Day 6: Exploring Bydgoszcz

Today was a new kind of adventure: our first taste of true independence. As it would come to pass, we were not quite prepared for what a new sense of freedom would bring. We got on the tram as usual and stuck our tickets into the puncher just like we had every other morning. A few stops later, two men approached the four of us (Ragan was home sick this morning) and after one of them identified himself as police, they asked to see our tickets. The one who we assumed to be in the more powerful of the two accused us of failing to validate the tickets and threatened us with a hefty fine while we tried to explain that we had in fact stuck the tickets in the puncher machine and were unsure of what we did wrong. The other man, having studied our tickets for a few moments, finally explained to his comrade that we had just punched the tickets upside down. It was a somewhat hectic scene as we tried to explain ourselves without seeming aggressive and him trying to accuse of a wrong we couldn’t comprehend. While this was going on, we missed our stop and ended up having to walk back to where we had wanted to go. The two men got off at the same stop as us and walked away without another word. While the situation felt confusing and frustrating at the time, we laughed and joked about our “delinquent” ways for the rest of the day.

We had lunch at a pizza place which was fairly good although not Polish and then met up with Anna’s daughter Madzia who became our guide for a good portion of the day. Okay, so maybe we weren’t entirely independent. We did however get to choose some of the day’s activities and the first item on our hand-selected agenda was shopping. We forsook the true Polish experience for a trip a short trip through a very modern mall in search of some cheap new wardrobe items.

We got to enjoy Polish pierogis for the first time.

After making some solid purchases, Madzia led us down some backstreets in the old city to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we got our first taste of true Polish pierogis (left). We got to try several flavors included some meat filled, fruit filled, and cabbage and onion filled dumplings. After this, we wandered back to the main square to get coffee.

When we reached the square, we were surprised to see a political protest going on and policemen swarming everywhere. It appeared to be peaceful but we were all set on edge (except for Madzia) because of masked men in black waving flags and holding signs. We were unsure of what to expect or what could be happening. The rest of the town-people didn’t seem to have any concerns and were placidly drinking and eating around the borders of the square. Others stopped to take a quick picture before continuing on their way. Eventually, the protesters were peacefully escorted out of the square by the officers.

To end our day’s adventures, Madzia took us to a craft beer pub and some of her friends from medical school joined us. We discussed our interests and compared parts of our cultures. We also laughed about our misfortunes on the tram and talked about what other parts Poland and Europe we would be interested to see. In case you were curious, we had no issues returning home on the tram and we were careful to punch our tickets on the correct side this time.

This group of delinquents is really starting to grow on me. (Not pictured: Ragan).


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