Why did I come to Warsaw?
Well, I’m in Poland, and it’s the capital.
And it’s a big city so there must be some interesting things.
And I needed to build in a chunk of time in a place where wifi would be decent (it wasn’t in my place) to get work done.
And I have a friend that’s living there now who I could visit.
But I knew nothing about Warsaw. So I had no one reason to be there but it made sense to spend a week there in many ways.
Overall, my expectations were to get a lot of work done, and hang out with my friend a little, and maybe see a few things, or see nothing, didn’t care.
Warsaw turned out to be a lot of things for me.
The first night, I got invited to go hang out at a beach bar. Yes please! I didn’t even know there were beaches in Warsaw. A friend I met at my Krakow hostel and her friend were at a conference in Warsaw, and had one night left. We had a drink and listened to some music, and someone even built a fire on the beach, which provided warmth for a little while.
While Warsaw is a concrete jungle, it’s much more! I expected it to be a cold, busy city. While it has some of that, it’s also got bike lanes everywhere, and huge, green parks with lots of nature to escape into.
Warsaw is surprisingly clean, modern, walkable, not crowded, and very, very cheap.
Uber is here and it’s also very cheap!
English is understood in many places, especially for those under 40…but it would be a bit difficult to live here for a long time and not learn Polish.
I mostly had good or neutral experiences with people. The big exception being, trying to buy a bus ticket the day before I left. I waited in a huge line (the one I was told was for international bus tickets), got to the window, and asked the angry-looking woman if I could buy a bus ticket to Vilnius here.
She suddenly looked much angrier.
She shouted at me: WHERE?
I said I’m going to Vilnius, Lithuania.
Then she said it again, even louder and I thought maybe she was saying “WHEN?”
I said “Tomorrow”.
She shook her head and yelled at the top of her lungs, “IN ENGLISH” and waved her hand at me and kind of gestured to my right. I looked over and saw some office.
“Over there?” I pointed.
I just got more yelling at me in Polish. So I left.
Eventually, I figured out that there was no where to actually buy a bus ticket besides online or on the bus right before it’s leaving.
It took me about 3 days to even figure out how to pronounce “hello” and “thank you” in Polish. (Dzien dobry is pronounced “Jean-Doh-Bree” and means Good Day, dziękuję is pronounced “Jen-KOO-Yah” and means Thank You).
Some things were as expected. The Polish jokes all have at least a grain of truth to them. The street crossing is often maddening, as there will be 4 lights to cross one street.
And here’s some classic Polishness:
The weather was getting warm and I went to my daily coffee place, Nero’s, and asked if they had iced coffee.
The barista looked at me and immediately said “Mmm Hmm”.
What I got was a hot coffee in a coffee cup with ice cubes!
So while I expected a lot of “down time” and working solo on projects, what I got was a busy time in my week in Warsaw- talking and seeing the city with my friend Vivien of freedominstyle.com, who I met via the Dynamite Circle.
We would meet for coffee & coworking at Nero’s Coffee and end up talking about some deep topic for hours as we explored some new part of the city.
Side bar: Nero’s is a wonderful chain of coffee shops that has lots of seating, outlets, good wifi and decent coffee, and nice people working there. If you ever find yourself in Warsaw, don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s a chain. It’s nicer than Starbucks with better coffee!
My expectations were not in line with how things went. I rarely have found this kind of connection and was easily able to de-prioritize my work plans in favor of experience and human connection.
This led me to some deep thinking. What is important in life? Yes, money and business and productivity are high on the list.
Love & romantic connections are also high on the list…for me, even higher than business.
But what about human connections in general? Where is the priority of relationships in general with me?
What I learned over my week in Warsaw is that I am myself. I can’t fall in line with what society sees as the normal way, or the “right” way, or what everybody else is doing.
I can’t for a second think about the judgments of others.
I can’t let fear of rejection get in the way of my true self.
So this time in Warsaw was filled with some of the most fulfilling moments of my life.
The more that expectations and attachments to outcomes exist, the less happy I can be. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by strengthening friendships, and this was what a good chunk of my time in Warsaw was about, despite having different plans going in.
And in this last week I got to know my friend AND myself much better than before. I came away with a feeling of personal confidence, clarity, and a little more faith in humankind. 🙂
And then there was the bus ride from Warsaw to Vilnius, Lithuania.
NEVER again will I take ECOLINES bus company!
My expectation was a smooth, 7 hour 15 minute ride to Vilnius. Had a big breakfast and some lunch before getting on the bus at 1:40pm. Brought a bottle of water and an energy bar & apple on board.
First, I guess the seat I picked was right by the door, which meant less leg room, and no video screen.
Next, the bus smelled horrible! There were a handful of guys behind me that ALL had B.O., and that added up for one stinky bus. (How people can live with their own stench is beyond me).
And I’ve been on countless busses in many countries around the world, and they ALWAYS stop halfway on the longer drives. Not this one! I ate my bar around 3 hours in and the bus ran an hour late, so it was 8 hours of torture!
Adjustment of expectations is the only way to not be as miserable as I look in that picture above.
To be continued in the Baltics!