This is the view from the doorway of my extremely cozy and pretty-much-perfect hostel room at the Dream Hostel in Warsaw, Poland. There was a heated towel rack in the bathroom, for fuckssake. I’d recommend staying here even if you have the money to afford some fancypants hotel. This hostel was awesome, but this isn’t about that. It’s about how well I slept here. With the down comforters and the lack of noise outside on the main street at all (activity near Castle Square really dies down after about 9pm), plus my ear plugs and eye mask, I was basically a zombie for 8 hours a night. Saying I was sad to leave this hostel is an epic understatement.
But now that I’m home, in my own bed, I’m sleeping like a baby again. Better than I slept in my bed before I left. I don’t know what it is – the complete one-eighty from sleeping in strange beds for 10 days straight, or the new MyPillows that I bought, or maybe it’s knowing that it’s my bed and everything on it is perfect.
Side note: Not all was copacetic on my first night back. I went to bed stupid early because hello, jetlag and when I woke up around 11:30pm, I forgot where I was and freaked out when I saw someone come into my room and go into the bathroom. That someone was my boyfriend and he was in my room because, well, I was home. But did my heart stop for a split second? Yes. Oops.
I’ve been going to bed earlier, sleeping more soundly, and through the night. It’s lovely. I hope it keeps up because, although I used to say I could get enough when I was dead, sleep is actually a very lovely thing.
I thought I should run down what I learned while traveling abroad by myself this time. It’s worth writing it down here in case anyone else here is a solo traveler or considering a solo trip. Because they’re the best and you should totally take one.
Really look at your accommodations. I can remember that after my trip to Scandinavia, I decided to really vet the hostels I was staying in, or not stay in hostels at all. I decided this time to stay in private rooms in hostels because a private room in a nice hostel is way better than a single room in a cheap, shitty hotel (probably located near the airport). I spent weeks (and I mean weeks) looking on hotels.com and hostelworld.com at different accommodations. It paid off because I stayed in a great hostel and an amazing hostel in Krakow and Warsaw, respectively. Unfortunately, my painstaking vetting fell short when it came to Gdansk. The room was very nice but the build itself was located in an area that I wasn’t really keen on. Or maybe it was just the time of day I arrived? That leads to the next thing I learned….
Arrive during the day. Don’t arrive in a new (especially foreign) city after dark. Check the time for sunset and arrive an hour before. On my walk back from the Solidarity Monument in Gdansk, I ended up walking past the hostel that I’d abandoned 30 minutes after arriving and saw that the area actually wasn’t too far from the Old Town. It was actually quite close to the old town but in the dark, it just looked scary. To my credit, there was a lot of construction around the doorway, reception only until 8pm, and little light near the doorway, hello, rapist?
Don’t schedule to the minute. I’d started planning my days out last year in Scandinavia a month before I got there based on when my travel book said things were open. These travel, regardless of when they were published, will almost always be wrong. My Poland travel book this year said Schindler’s Factory was only open on Saturdays. This was not true. At all. Don’t plan your days before you arrive. You never know what will happen and then you’ll be frustrated. Just go with the flow.
Hello and Thank You. Learn a few phrases in the native language of the country you’re going to. Don’t be a typical fucking American who expects that everyone speaks English because We’re #1 (if you’re one of those who believes that). I tried teaching myself Polish using the Duolingo app, but I retained almost none of it. I did retain the words for cat, cookie, milk, and apple, though (you know, the important words to know). Upon arriving in Poland, I was alerted to the fact that Polish is the 2nd or 3rd hardest language to learn in the world, so I didn’t make myself feel too bad about it. But while I was there, I picked up the words for hello/good morning, thank you, you’re welcome, fine, yes, and no. Not much, but I was told they always appreciate it when the Stupid Americans ™ at least try.
These are, at least, the most important things I learned while abroad in a country that is very, very different from the United States. Everyone should definitely travel by themselves, at least once in their life. You learn so much about yourself and the world in the process. Any questions?
Photo is of a picturesque street in the Old Town in Gdansk, Poland.
I went a little crazy with trip prep shopping today. I went to Homegoods, Origins, and the Flying Tiger (the Danish version of Muji). Is that not the best journal for travel musings (on the right) ever? I also bought a bag from eBags which came on Friday and I’m making packing lists like a crazy person.
I booked all of my hostels tonight, so all that’s left is booking my travel from Copenhagen to Oslo, Oslo to Stockholm, and Stockholm to Helsinki. I was told I should take a train whenever possible because it’s so beautiful and I’m sure it is but a 9 hour train from Copenhagen to Oslo for $254 as opposed to an hour flight for $54 is just no comparison. I know going through airport security is a pain in the ass, but hey, at least I’ll get more stamps in my passport, right?
The train from Oslo to Stockholm is only four hours and $30 or something, so that’s fine. Then there’s the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki which is about $150 and takes like, 9 hours as well. Or a half hour flight for $50.
So, as beautiful as the countryside might be, I might fly between two of the four cities. I’ve been collecting lots of links for things to do and packing lists for when you don’t want to pack on the light side. I’ll leave those here incase any of you are going to wander soon.