Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Malbork Castle, the largest Gothic castle in Europe.
Today, Tomek and Ala took me to Malbork Castle. The weather was not ideal. It was very grey and rainy. This happens a lot in the winter. (But in the summer...)
Since no one (except me, apparently) in their right mind would visit Poland at this time of year, Ala and I received our own private tour of the castle, by a guide who only spoke Polish. I read the English guidebook beforehand so I could maybe follow about 30 percent of what she said. The rest of the time, I thought about how I will continue my language studies in the States, and if it is possible if I will ever be fluent.
We drove back to Kikol after the tour, and with no ham sandwiches (all food was left at Ala's family in Gdansk), and no restaurants around, something happened. Hunger. And boy, did it feel amazing. My hosts were frantic, but I enjoyed the ache in my stomach. We finally came upon a roadside cafe that was just outside another old castle, where we had the Polish fast-food: breaded pork and potatoes. It hit the spot.
For the first time, I did not fall asleep the ride home, and instead I watched the ride home on the small two lane roads, looking out to the vast dreary plains.
When I came home, Ala and I looked through her jewelry box, and she gave me a necklace and ring from her collection. It was so sweet. I have been very dilligent about not accumulating a lot of things on this trip, but in the five days I have been in Poland, I now have a bag full of stuff, including a framed picture of Gdansk, a Metallica road sign, chocolates for me, my mom and Dan, among many other little trinkets. They have so little and yet they feel so compelled to give and give and give. It is very nice and endearing, but where am I going to put all this stuff? No wonder these Polish people always travel with such big bags.