International Criminal

LOVING the beautiful Old Town Bydgoszcz!

A few nights ago, I accidentally stole a chocolate bar from the store. It was long and totally flat, just like my wallet, and in the chaos of trying to check out and pay for all of the stuff in the bag I had in a language I don’t speak, I totally forgot I had picked it up at the beginning. It wasn’t until I went to get my key out of my wallet that I saw it, and again, thanks to the language barrier, I decided not to go back in and pay for it. I explained this to my boyfriend, to which he responds, “Great. I’m dating an international criminal.” Turns out, I wanted to live up to that…and the rest of my group wanted to join.

Saturday morning, we got up and dressed, and left for Old Town. We walked to the bus station, boarded, and scanned our ticket, just as we do every single day. Around 15 minutes later, maybe two stops before we needed off, two men board the bus at a stop. They walk right up to us, flash their badges, and start speaking in Polish. I knew they were probably there to check our tickets, and pulled mine out and handed it to them. The rest of the group did the same. The officer looks over each one of our tickets, then says; “these are not validated. Do you have identification on you?” I got out my passport, and handed to him. I also asked what validated means, and he said, “you have to put it in the machine!” pointing to the machine that we put the ticket in every single day. I am hesitant to argue much with him, because police in Poland are very intimidating. Our friend told us that in America it is police are to protect and serve, but here they are to be intimidating, and say like “we can beat you.” He asked what stop we were getting off at, and we told him Opera. He begins telling us each of are are getting tickets as we pass our stop, and tells us “you are all getting off at the next stop with me, do you understand?” I told him “I understand that we are getting tickets, but I do not understand why. Can you tell us what we are doing wrong so we know how to fix it?” But he just keeps saying, your tickets are not validated, you have to put them in the machine, which we did. Finally, the second officer, who has been silently investigating our tickets the entire time realizes that we have scanned them wrong, and explains it to the other officer. We barely made it out of polish jail alive.

When we finally got off the bus and walked back to the place we were supposed to get off, we were starving and found the cutest pizza place. Polish pizza more closely resembles American pizza than Italian pizza, though it is still pretty different. One major difference is that though each come with a sauce on them, you choose two sauces to use as a dip. You get the option of garlic sauce, which the Poles eat on nearly everything, a spicy sauce, a tomato sauce, or honey mustard. Ranch was not an option. Also, I had a few meats on my pizza, and that sausage link looking meat tastes just like beef jerky, haha.

After lunch, we walked around exploring the beautiful town some more.

We met up with the daughter of one of our professors. She is a med student here in town, and we had a blast getting to meet her and her friends. She took us to the mall for a while, and then we had our first taste of pierogi, a very traditional Polish dish. It is a stuffed dumpling, usually boiled, but they also have them baked. Most traditionally, they would have cabbage and mushrooms in them, but there are many varieties, including pierogi with meat, or dessert pierogi. Following that, we went to meet up with some of Magdalena’s friends at a craft beer joint. They had a huge variety of beer made in-house, and every flavor you could imagine, from cranberry to coconut to chocolate/vanilla swirl, and regular beer, as well. We played board games and got to know one another. It was good to finally meet people our age who wanted to hang out, and being with them outside the tourist areas made us feel like more of a local. We really enjoyed it.

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