[Photo album at the end of the entry.]
Important lesson: always remember to bring the passport.
Greg was careful enough to have checked the train schedule yesterday, and any combination to Malbork will take roughly 2 hours. Again I didn’t exactly get enough sleep, but I still managed to leave earlier than Greg told me to – I wanted to arrive by an SKM train (city train) earlier in Sopot to make sure I have enough time to find out how to change for a PKP train (Polish Railway) to Malbork.
The clerk in Sopot understandably spoke no English at all, and although she sort of told me which platform I should go to, I couldn’t find it anyway and decided to ask a lovely young girl who came my way. She offered to take me there, but a young guy soon caught up with us, spoke something to her, and told me that he was to take the same train. I thought he is a school friend of hers, but as it turned out, they don’t know either other at all: he just happened to overhear where I was going to, and he was kind of enough to tell me something very important: the PKP train for me is going to use a platform normally used by an SKM train, since a nearby section of the railway system is under construction, something very often these days. Lucky me! Otherwise a foreigner like me would not have known and would definitely have missed this train – and there are simply not that many trains to Malbork.
This good-looking youthful guy turned out to live in the countryside of Gdynia, works in a bakery owned by his father-in-law (yes, unfortunately he plays for a different team), and is taking a couple of days off to go to a beekeeper friend not too far from Malbork to learn his skills, just for “relaxation.” I meant to make use of the commuting hours for either resting, photo-editing or writing, but he was keen to engage in conversation, so conversation it was – his English is very serviceable.
Turns out that all the bunch of school kids (high school? College? I think both) were going to Malbork as well. That means I will again be surrounded by student mob today, I think.
It wasn’t difficult to find the castle. The entrance ticket included a free audio guide, but then I was told by the three young girls in charge that I needed to present a photo ID. I saw that they merely took a look at people’s ID to transcribe the name and the number instead of keeping those ID’s, so I told them that I had none with me but remember my ID number. They curtly refused and told me to go away. I kept searching and searching, finally found the travel insurance proof in my bag, which does have my passport name and number. No: that won’t do, since it doesn’t have a photo. I told them I have copies on the internet, but of course there’s no internet. “Any copy will do,” they said. I finally found a copy of my National Insurance Card, and yet the girl deemed that it doesn’t have any Western alphabets and isn’t an “international ID.”
OK, that’s it. They wanted a copy of a photo ID, I found one, and now they say it isn’t “international” enough. I told them that in Arabic countries many official stamps and documents also don’t have any Western alphabets on them, but of course their English is too poor to understand. Actually, they don’t care to: they just kept telling me to go away. I was fucking pissed – maybe this is a cultural thing, but I really it when service people whisk customers or guests away in such manners. I asked to see their supervisor, and after a couple of minutes a middle-aged man appeared – and he doesn’t speak English.
Luckily he speaks German, so I switched to German (“Oh, you speak German too,” he was a bit surprised) – after all I don’t think the impatient girl would be of any positive help. After some explanation, he told me I can have the audio guide as long as I leave my bag there as some sort of deposit as well as apologizing to the girl – she thought I was rude. Fuck it. Of course she can get the most meaningless “Entschuegigun” I care to offer, but is she going to be RESPONSIBLE for the security of my bag? She gestured “Definitely not.” The eventual solution is that I deposit my bag at the security guard’s office.
Perfectly BAD mood to set off the sightseeing of this big castle. I have to give credits due to that supervisor though – he meant to be helpful, instead of just waving me away like the girls, and he sincerely greeted me “Viel Spass!” (Have fun!) in the end – which came somewhat unexpectedly.
The castle was swarmed with noisy kids who carelessly blocked EVERYwhere, never yielded passage ways, and at times glared frowningly at this strange-looking Asian passing by. Oh, and before too long, it started to rain.
The castle is big – it took me three hours to go through it. Luckily there was the audio guide, since English explanations are rarely provided, while the German version is usually available.
On the way back I got a Doenner-kebab, which is of course not as good as those in Germany. I also don’t know how to say “No mayonnaise!” in Polish, but it isn’t bad to have a warm kebab. While waiting on the platform for the train to Gdansk, a guy smelling like beer came to try to talk to me in English, while gesturing for either my kebab or my camera. After his futile attempts, he went on to other passengers on the platform. That’s the fun part of the day.
I planned to have some rest at home and actually do some proper planning and booking, but when I arrived home I smelled hamburger meat being fried in a sizzling pan, and there’s a 22-year-old twinky P. Soon L also joined us. P can speak English but hardly opted to, and L had to think. P and Greg also had a lot of fun time practicing Italian, so after some drinks I went to enjoy watching QAF on the sofa.
[Pictures = here]