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Poland: Part 17 – Homeward Bound, Final Entry

June 30 – 8:53AM (Poland Time)

We’re on the road, on our way from Wroclaw to Warsaw.

We had gotten up at 5:30AM, said goodbye to Una, Linn, Tara, Tom and Sonia (they were staying behind in Europe), packed, and boarded the bus.

We’re making good time – there’s light traffic and good weather.  We’re at a rest stop for breakfast:


3:07PM (Poland Time)

We arrived at the airport in Warsaw around 1PM.


We hung around, got our bags checked, and eventually said goodbye to Tamara.  She’d be traveling home sometime later.  Thanks so much for the great trip, Tamara!


Security was no fuss.  We killed time in the duty free waiting for our flight.  I bought a chocolate bar with my last 10z.  We board at 4PM.


We’re all really anxious to get home.  I think we’re all pretty sick of traveling now – and we have an 8+ hour flight ahead of us.  Just look at these faces.


We just want to get home.

Eventually we boarded the plane:


7:05PM (Poland Time)

We’re already an hour into the flight.  Somehow, this plane isn’t giving me too much confidence.

The safety video (on a single screen at the front of the plane) kept flickering in and out, and I think I missed a lot of important information.

There were several instances where music would start to play for a few seconds in the cabin, and then abruptly stop.

Ryan and Jiv just noticed that there’s water dripping on them from above the overhead compartment.

My headphones don’t seem to work unless I hold them in.

And there’s masking tape holding part of the wall together.

A Lapse in Writing Cohesion

At this point in my journal, my writing really started to deteriorate.  The timestamps have less and less meaning as I travel across time zones.  I think my pen was starting to run out of ink, I was exhausted, and the boredom of the flight was starting to drive me nuts.  I’ll do my best to translate the scrawl that ended my journal.

8:50PM (Poland Time)

No idea where we are, so no real clue on what the actual time is.  Still, it’s pretty bright out.  Looks like mid-afternoon outside.  This is going to be the longest day of my life.

I’m trying to read Guns, Germs and Steel, but I just can’t concentrate.  I can’t wait to be home.

10:20PM (Poland Time)

Hannah Montana is the inflight film.  SHOOT ME.


The minutes are crawling by.  3 or 4 more hours.  Pen is starting to fail me.

11:45PM (Poland Time)

Still bright out.  Spooky.  About to get our second meal!  Surprise:  it’s a sandwich.  And the Nutcracker Suite just came on in my headphones again.  That’s 6 times in total now.

12:55AM (Poland Time)

Just filled out declaration card for Canada Customs.  There are lots of confused people who don’t speak English on the plane.  Lots of passengers standing up, and gesturing to one another frantically.  Wish I could help, but I don’t speak Polish.

1 hour remaining.  Can’t wait.  Flying over Québec.

Final Entry

Got off the plane.  Buzzed through customs.  Luggage was late getting onto the carousel, but it eventually showed up.  Said lots of goodbyes to people.  Jiv’s family offered to drive me home, and I gratefully accepted.

Noticed plenty of garbage on the streets on the drive in – though I had imagined more.

Eventually showed up at my apartment in Toronto.  Said goodbye to Jiv and his family.

Went inside.  Fingers barely worked.  Made contact with Em, the guys, and my family to let them know I was alive.

And then collapsed into bed.  It was good to be home.

Click here to go back to My Poland Journal: Index

Click here to go pack to Part 16: Last Full Day in Poland, and THE TEMPTATION OF QUIET VERONICA

Poland – Part 2: Dazed in Warsaw

Note:  More photos will be added to this post over time, so keep checking back.

June 16 – 6:51AMEST, 12:51PM Local

We had just arrived in Poland (Warsaw, to be exact) from our connecting flight from Frankfurt.  After we landed, we walked out of the plane onto the tarmac, and caught a bus to the airport terminal.


Once we got inside, we had to somehow find our checked luggage.  There was some concern that our luggage may have been lost in the shuffle when our original flight from Frankfurt was moved forward, so we were a bit worried.  If all of our luggage magically showed up, with no fuss, or missing bits, then we were in business.

So we went down to the carousel…and waited…and waited…nothing was moving, no luggage had arrived.  We waited…and then, finally, the wheels started moving.  Bags started pouring out of a chute built into the floor.

Would any of our bags be on the carousel?

It took a few rounds, and some people lost hope – but then the first bag was sighted.  After that, one after another they poured onto the carousel.  There was much rejoicing.


Now that we had our luggage, we had to find Tamara.  And here was the tricky part: as far as I know, nobody had contacted her to tell us that we had taken a later flight.  So, she may have been waiting around for an hour, and then left when we didn’t arrive.  So, we started patrolling the arrivals area…


And immediately found Tamara.  Bless her heart, she hadn’t left, and had been waiting there the whole time for us.  She’d even brought a big green bus with her to take us to our first hostel.

It’s amazing how weary us travellers can get – especially since we don’t do much, physically, while we’re being transported.  All it is, is an exercise in sitting still.  Still, somehow it’s exhausting.  Also factor in that at this point, I’d probably been up for almost 24 hours.

While we were riding the bus, Tamara informed us that the original train trips that had been scheduled into our itinerary had been too difficult to set up, and that she had arranged for the green bus to transport us to where we needed to go.  We officially had a tour bus!  Awesome!

We flew down the streets of Warsaw.  My first impression?  The license plates sure look different.  And most of the advertisements were, understandably, in Polish.  The Stop signs were still in English though, which I found interesting.

It was rainy and gray out.  Traffic flew by.  We were all exhausted.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t paying too much attention to the road.  I was really tired.

When we got to the hostel, we all piled out of the bus and unloaded our luggage.  Tamara apologized because we had to walk up 3 flights of stairs with our luggage – but it wasn’t that bad.  At first, the smell of the stairwell discouraged me…it smelled funky and musty.  I was prepared for the worst.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The hostel was awesome.  Freakin’ awesome.  If you’re about my age, think about your ideal apartment.  Now add lots of free food just lying around.  Now add the awesome reunions with Una Ruud and Linn Farley, two other UCDP students that had come from elsewhere around Europe to meet us.  Like I said:  awesome.

If you’re ever interested in staying in Warsaw, I recommend the place that we stayed at: New World St. Hostel.  Very clean, friendly staff, great bunks, great location.  Here is the hostel’s website.

And here are a few photos:


We didn’t have access to the rooms at first – we had to wait about half an hour. But that was OK, seeing as how there was awesome free food just lying around for us to eat:  cakes, freshly picked strawberries (very common at this time of year here, apparently), crackers, bread, etc.  After our long trip, it was heavenly.

While we were chowing down, Tara Gerami and Tom Davis walked through the door, which whipped us into another hyper frenzy.  Tom and Tara are two other UCDP students who had been in Berlin, and were meeting up with us like Linn and Una.  We were exhausted, hyper, dazed, and kinda grungy. I won’t lie – even though I hadn’t done anything physical, I really needed a shower.  I wasn’t alone.

Ever played Monopoly?  Sure you have.  You know how when you pass GO, you get $200?  That’s basically what happened to us.  By coming to this hostel, we had apparently passed GO, and so Tamara dished out 200 z (zloty, Polish currency) for each of us.  Nothing wrong with that.

Finally, our rooms were ready.  I looked inside our rooms – grey bunk beds, foot lockers for personal storage, and nice big windows.  The bunk beds were nice, and were the exact same type that I have at my own apartment. A very comfortable room.


2:52PM Local

After we had settled, we realized that (despite all of the free food) we were hungry for a full-sized meal.  We all trooped out of the hostel, and went to a restaurant just down the street.

Good food.  I had a macaroni, chicken, broccoli, and cheese casarole.  I also took this opportunity to send very short emails to my parents and my girlfriend Em with Una’s iPhone (the restaurant, despite looking like the Three Bears’ cottage, had wi-fi).


The effects of sleep deprevation were really taking their toll.  The jokes were non-sensical.  I couldn’t tell if I was hungry, but I ate anyways.  In my opinion, we were all (understandably) burnt out.

While it would have been nice to just curl up and go to bed (awake for over 24 hours at this point), Tamara advised us that it would be wisest for us to stay up as late as possible so as to not completely screw over our sleep cycle.

So, instead of going back to the hostel, the lot of us hit the pavement, and we started checking out Warsaw.

Click here to go to Part 3:  Our Day in Warsaw

Click here to go back to Part 1: Departures and Arrivals