Summer in Poland

One of the most beautiful and complicated things about my life is that I married a man from another country. As a young man right out of college he ventured to the United States seeking adventure and opportunity. Along the way he met me. The rest is history.

Staying in the United States was never his plan. Leaving the United States has never been my plan. Love has a tendency to throw things off course. As our parents age and we contemplate a family of our own, there’s an underlying pull to simultaneously be in both countries. There is no simple solution to this conundrum. It continues to be a difficult theme that intertwines itself in our daily lives.

Instead of embarking on a grand European adventure this summer we have decided to spend a month in Poland. The majority of that time will be spent visiting family and we may also visit some places in Poland we have not been before. Michal recently took a new job which means that he does not have as much freedom and flexibility to travel and explore as he used to.

The first week here was spent in Koszalin, the city where Michal grew up and his parents still live. Koszalin is a sleepy city close to the Baltic Sea. A walk through the city parks finds families playing, alcoholics stumbling (at all times of the day) and swans floating down the small stream. There is not much diversity in Koszalin. My favorite thing to do in while in Koszalin is to go to the sea. Over the past decade the Polish seaside has become more popular. Undeveloped places along the coast are now lined with buildings. Thankfully there is always a forest separating the sea from the towns therefore the beach remains uninterrupted. If you’re willing to drive and walk a little bit it is still possible to find a place along the beach with few others around.

The crowds of people along the sea were surprising. When we were here two years ago it was a popular destination but not this busy. In talking to some friends it seems that people are more fearful of traveling to Western Europe and instead coming to the Polish seaside as Poland is a relatively safe country. Unfortunately this means that prices are sky rocketing and comparable to spending a week by the ocean in the United States. People in Poland do not make nearly as much as someone in the US does.

We are currently in Poznań , Poland. This is where Michal’s brother lives and where Michal briefly lived while attending college. Poznań is much more diverse. Currently the population of this city is somewhere near half a million people. Hipster places are popping up along the ancient buildings. English is more widely spoken,there’s more history and more to do.

After sampling beers at a craft brewery last night we joined thousands of Polish people protesting recent legislation in the government. Last week the Polish government proposed three laws that would have totally uprooted the court systems and if passed would have jeopardized Poland remaining in the European Union. For more information, read this article.

Yesterday the President vetoed two out of three bills. The third bill he did not veto would allow local governments to chose the heads of local courts. For more information on that, read this article. The protests were held to encouraged the President to veto the third bill. Despite the thousands of people and the pouring rain, the protest was peaceful and beautiful. We were without our rain coats, so we improvised by using garbage bags and plastic grocery bags. While it may not have been stylish, it kept us dry.

Today it is pouring rain again. Currently I am sitting in a hipster coffee shop drinking cappuccino and willing to the rain to go away. Michal is busy working this summer and I am not one to wander around alone in unfamiliar places. Time to push myself out of my comfort zone. This time with a raincoat and umbrella instead of a garbage bag.