I won't lie I was dreading going to Poland, because every time I mentioned Poland everyone had to tell me how cold of a place it is. If you aren't aware by now, I am not a big fan of cold weather. So going to Poland during the middle of their winter scared me. To my surprise, I had worried for no reason in the last few years, Poland hasn't experienced snow. I am relieved when I found this information out granted it was still cold, my nose almost fell off from frostbite.
On my flight to Poland, I sat next to a lovely guy from Turkey who was studying there. We were conversing about our lives, which made the three hours fly by, and before I knew it, we had landed in Warsaw. After collecting my belongings, this lovely soul helped me find a sim card which cost me around $2 and then helped me find the bus I needed to take to get into the city.
I had found a lovely host from CouchSurfing to stay with during my first four days in Warsaw. Heading to my host's apartment, I took a bus and a tram, which was roughly 45 minutes. By this time, my phone was on 2% luckily my phone liked me that day and held on for dear life. I made it to the apartment with 1% enough to call Kati and let her know I was downstairs. I felt right at home when I walked into her apartment. We sat down and talked for a while until realizing we both hadn't eaten dinner, so we went to the grocery store down the road to get food to cook. This small little cozy studio was fantastic the washer was so tiny, I didn't even know they made washers so small. I bet you are wondering since it is a studio apartment where did I sleep, well she had a blow-up mattress. This wonderful girl was even going to let me sleep on her bed, but I do like sleeping on air mattresses.
The next day I had decided to leave with Kati since she had to work and didn't have an extra key. Thus, it allowed me to seize the day since only coffee shops are open at 8 am I decided to work on my articles. After a few hours my, tummy was rumbling I had forgotten to eat. Giving me the chance to check out my first vegan restaurant in Poland, which I have heard is Vegan Capital.
Well, I only had one option because it was the only place that opened by 10 am. Vege Bistro, this place not only has an outstanding atmosphere but friendly and helpful staff. While looking at the menu, I noticed a pancake I thought I love pancakes but, I read further served with cheese on top. I was so confused and started asking questions, but I guess it is a famous dish in Poland. So I decided to do what the Polish do and eat my pancakes with cheese. The aftermath I was stuffed, and it was well worth it. I decided to do a little shopping since I needed some new stuff that would last me longer than a few months. I went to go check out TKMAXX, which is called TJMAXX in the States. As I have grown older, I don't enjoy shopping as much as I did, I find it a chore instead of fun. Anyways like all consumers, I started pilling my cart full even though I only needed a few items. Once I got out of the fitting room, I still had way more than I anticipated buying. So I asked myself the important questions; is it needed, will it fit in my bag, am I willing to give up something in exchange for this item. If I say no to any of these, I will not waste my money buying it. I purchased only three items, a pair of yoga pants, a jacket, and socks. After all this shopping, I was still on the hunt for nutritional yeast. I found a bio store that had only two bags left, so I snagged them. By this time, I was starting to get hungry, and then I saw there was a vegan sushi restaurant. Wow, to say I was impressed is an understatement. A long day of eating and shopping made me head towards the apartment to wait for her to get back from work.
The next day was a lazy day I went to a vegan restaurant around the corner and tried getting my work done. I wanted to do something for Kati for being an exceptional host, so I cooked her dinner. After dinner, there was a CouchSurfing meet up, and we thought it would be nice to get out of the house. It was a small group of us, but it made it even more special, especially since we were talking about some deep shit.
The main reason I went to Poland was to volunteer for this company called Angloville. It is a language immersion program in which native volunteers come to help participants speak English. In exchange, we get food and accommodation and transportation to the venue. This company does make you pay a 69 Euro deposit, and once you complete the program, you get 59 Euro back. Use caution with the volunteer program I completed my programs but refused my refund. Besides having to pay for this volunteer program, which was not completely worth 69 Euros, I did meet some incredible people. The day before they offer a free walking tour of the city, the tour guide was hilarious and informative. It gives us volunteers an opportunity to meet each other and see the city.
The day I had to say goodbye to Kati was bittersweet, I was so grateful I got the chance to met her but was sad it was so short. When traveling, I tend to forget what day of the week it is, well this day landed on a Sunday. The trams on this day, run not as frequently, this gave me a shorter window to make it to the bus on time. I was rushing to get to the bus, I was rounding the corner, and I got a call from the coordinator, I screamed: "I am here." The long four-hour bus ride took us deep into the middle of nowhere.
I will admit my first impressions of this place was I have to spend a whole week looking at dead animals everywhere. The outside of this hotel was spectacular, a pond and nature were surrounding us. So let me start with my review of this hotel, the staff seemed like they did not like their jobs. When it came to the food, I was starving in the mornings because they had fruit as my option. During lunch and dinner, we received the smallest portions, and the food was pretty bad. I felt like I was fasting during this whole week.
Enough ranting about that, let me talk about the positives. There were only three female volunteers, thus we all ended up sharing a room. Since there were four beds, Miranda and I came up with a great plan to make one big bed. All three of us came from the States, which I thought was interesting. The group of people that were in this program were unbelievable. I had a remarkable time getting to know them all.
The schedule for this program was very flexible since we had too many volunteers, which meant we got a lot of free time. During the day, there are speaking sessions with the participants but don't worry, they do give you topics, but you don't have to use them. There is also a group activity scheduled each day as well as entertainment at the end of the day.
At the beginning of the week, participants can choose their mentor, who will help them to create a presentation at the end of the week. I got Anika who is a fortune teller I bet you can guess who got their fortune told.
I had such a wonderful time volunteering. I enjoyed the structure of being able to talk with people instead of drilling grammar down their throats. With it only being a week-long program, it went by way too quickly, but I was happy I was heading to another one. There were four of us heading to the next destination. Thankfully JP had told me that one of the participants was giving him a ride to Wroclaw, so I hinted that I was also going there, and he gladly offered me a ride.
My fabulous journey in Warsaw was at an end, but I was heading down to Wroclaw for my next adventure.
I also forgot to mention that during my time in Warsaw, I happened to remember that I used to volunteer with these two lovely ladies from Poland. So I wrote to them to see where they are, Magda had recently moved to Warsaw, so I got the chance to go meet up with her. It is so amazing having friends from all over the world and meeting them on one side of the world and then reconnecting in a different part of the world.