rhiaro

To Hel and back

The Hel Peninusula is a narrow strip of land poking out over the north of Poland, in the Baltic Sea. Yesterday I took a one hour ferry there from Gdynia, walked 20 miles along it, then took a one hour train back. It was exhausting, and beautiful.

A map of a section of Poland showing Hel Peninusual and Gdynia, with arrows for ferry and train routes, and a squiggle for where I walked

The ferry from Gdynia runs from May to September, and is 40PLN (~10EUR). There's one guaranteed to run in each direction, and two which run if there are enough people demanding it. I went at 10am, and it takes about an hour. The port is about a 15 minute walk from Gdynia main station, in a straight line. I bought my ticket from the office on the port (they're also available online) about half an hour before departure. There were only a handful of other people on board.

A white ferry labelled AGAT beside a port on the sea A weird shaped building with big red letters on The top deck of a ferry with benches on View from inside a ferry across a port to a city Raindrops on a window to the sea People walking along a pier beside a ferry, next to the sea

Hel itself is the biggest town, on the end of the strip. It is surrounded on all sides by beaches, and backed by woods with many remnants of the World Wars, like bunkers and shelters. I didn't stick around in the town for very long after disembarking the ferry, but plunged into the woods to cross to the less inhabited beaches on the northern side.

A small beach with a pier and town in the background Trees, sand and moss covered bunker in the woods Trees in the background, sand dune in the foreground with cement blocks

For a while I followed the beach. It was windy, mini sandstorms peppered my ankles; the waves crashed to my right and there was no-one. Miles and miles of soft white sand, stretching out in both directions. It really felt like paradise.

The beach is separated from the woods by banks of sand dunes of various sizes. It was much more sheltered and warm to walk through here, but the dunes were deep and soft; ploughing through took more energy. I wandered between beach, dunes and woods. The trees were far enough apart that an absence of well defined trails didn't matter. Pale green-blue moss on the ground was deliciously crunchy underfoot. Sometimes the woods would open into wide patches of dunes, pure and white and sweeping, completely undisturbed by other footprints. Periodically I came across a bunker or a rusty watch tower, half-buried in the sand or overgrown by trees.

Fluffy sand leading to the sea through a gap in the trees Light coloured moss carpeting the forest floor with a tree in the middle White sand dunes with scattered grass and trees, and a sign saying 64 Hel Footprints on a beach leading towards the camera, sea on the left Dunes lined with trees and the sea in the background Light green moss on the forest floor with a tree trunk in the corner Dunes, grass and trees Wispy pine trees in the foreground with beach and sea behind Grassy dunes with sea on the horizon A military shelter that looks like a tank sticking out the top of a dune with grass, and trees in the background Dunes with grass going into the distance with trees on the horizon and right Most of the picture is smooth white sand stretching to the horizon, with some trees and blue sky

I had planned to walk from Hel to Chałupy, and take the train from there back to Gdynia. OpenStreetMap calculated the walk to take about 6 and a half hours, so I had 1.5 hours of bufffer before the second-to-last train and 3 hours before the last one. Plenty of wiggle room. Except I managed to consume almost all of the buffer before I was even half way. I was zigzagging through the woods and dunes, stopping for photos and lunch, and of course walking on sand dunes is considerably slower than OSM accounted for. When I realised there was a very real risk of missing the last train, I stepped up my pace.

I passed through the villages of Jurata and Jastarnia without really stopping to take them in, but I was keen to get to the narrowest part of the peninsula, hoping to see sea and beaches on both sides. I did stop long enough at Jurata to walk down the pier, and read about how the peninsula was used as a torpedo testing ground by the Germans in WWII.

View down a wooden pier with white fences, to the sea Blue sea with distant beach and trees and a white fence in the foreground Beach in the foreground curving around still sea with a pier along the horizon

There's a little peak called Libek an hour out of Jastarnia, which I think is the narrowest part of the split. Making it here felt like an achievemnet, and was a turning point in my energy levels. I could see the sea from both sides, but the trees are thick and the photo doesn't really capture it.

Panorama with trees, sea, grass and a sign in the middle Green grass in front of treas with sea in the distance Distant sea behind a traintrack and trees Trees silhouetted aginst a beach and sea

After that I realised my legs were tired and to make it to Chałupy on time I had no more opportunities to linger. The next village was Kuznica, which had beaches on both sides it would be nice to enjoy, so I decided to cop out one stop early and take the train from here instead. This bought me an hour, so I slowed my pace a little. I sat on the beach in Kuznica on the bay side, where the sea was much calmer, shallower and warmer than the Baltic Sea side.

Rough concrete path on the right leading to a sun setting over a town with a church spire An upturned boat on a beach with rough sea in the background Shallow sea water with ripples and sunlight

There was of course no ticket machine at the train station. I watched the sunset over the tracks, and the train arrived just before 9.

I bought the ticket from the conductor, half asleep, struggling to get out the name of my departure station (which I had only managed to implant in my brain beforehand because it ends in 'nica' meaning I associate it with Bosnia pies) and where I was going to, by the time she came around (13.50PLN, ~3EUR).

Train track running into the distance with trees and the sun Sea on the horizon with traintracks in the foreground Shelters on a train platform, with sun set pink and orange streaked sky

All photos and GPS on Runkeeper.

🏷 travel walking https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/poland

I have a whole four upcoming long distance bus trips this month and none of them are with Flixbus. What uuuuuppp finally I'm seeing other people.

(In case you're interested...)

  • Gdynia - Amsterdam with EST Gdansk
  • Amsterdam - London with NationalExpress
  • London - Vienna with Regiojet
  • Vienna - Sarajevo with my beloved Centrotrans

🏷 travel https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/flixbus

Stuff update

Content warning: This post is really boring and self-indulgent, and I definitely overthink clothes-buying. You probably don't want to read it.

If you know me at all (or read my logs) you know I only buy clothes about once a year (though I bought a secondhand hoodie in Prague in february, not sure if this makes what I'm about to write about my second shopping trip of 2018) and also I only buy secondhand stuff (except for underwear). This isn't about cost, though that helps, but a determination to make as little dent in the world as possible with my material consumption habits. I also have a one-in one-out policy with new stuff because my backpack is at capacity.

Since it's out of character and I feel bad about it, I'm writing about why I bought stuff from SportsDirect in Poland over the past few days.

Bag

My daypack broke on Saturday. I got it in Japan in Nov 2016, it folds into a little pocket to clip onto my big backpack when not in use, and has lasted way longer than I expected. I thought the straps or seams would go, especially as I use it for carrying my laptop. But uh, the zips fell off. They just disappeared. I do not know how to repair this, and it's a pretty critical piece of my day-to-day infrastructure. So I needed a replacement STAT.

I happened to know of an extremely compact ~12eur pack in SportsDirect, so I thought I'd not waste time searching around and just get it. It's not as good as my old one - no side pockets, and the case it packs into is separate rather than attached - but it folds to about one quarter of the size and seems pretty solid.

A composite image of the same small green backpack on a floor, on the right open out and on the left folded in on itself into a pocket A black and grey small backpack and a little pouch A stuffed black pouch hanging from a bigger backpack

This is what led to the buying of the rest of the things.

Shoes

For a few months I've been down to my running shoes and my walking boots. So I've wanted something else to serve as sandals/casual shoes/shoes-I-can-wear-with-a-dress-without-looking-like-a-person-who-only-owns-running-shoes-and-walking-boots.

Also, my boots are terrible. I got them from a secondhand shop in Bosnia. They look fine, and have good ankle support. They're not waterproof on top, and the right one has sprung a leak in the sole. 30% of the time they're not comfortable (not enough to make me ditch them, but often enough to be really annoying). They're two sizes too big so I always have to wear chunky walking socks with them. And they're freaking huge, inflexible, hard to pack, slow to put on and take off, generally in the way whilst travelling.

Mostly I find myself wearing the boots whilst on the move (because I can't pack them), the running shoes the rest of the time, until my feet cry out for a change of scene and I have to wear the boots for a couple of days. I mostly wear my running shoes for hikes too because my boots are too annoying.

But I need something that's not my running shoes, because they're gonna wear out quickly, I'm sick of getting them full of sand at the beach, and my feet need a break from them sometimes.

I had been mentally prepping to hit secondhand shops and street markets in the Tri-City area for sandals this week. But then I found walking sandles and squishy beach pumps in SportsDirect.

The sandals are good quality, I found a kids size that fits (cheaper), I think they look nice, are small and lightweight, and they are really comfy. They were ~25eur. Given how much serious hiking I actually use my walking boots for at the moment, I can definitely now ditch the boots in favour of these sandles. I'll reconsider next time I need to climb Everest, or go somewhere with winter, obviously.

I would totally wear walking sandals with a dress and consider myself dressed up, but then I spotted the beach pumps. Also comfy, lightweight, fold totally flat and from a distance look potentially smart. Sure they have a little cartoon fish on them.. these may also be kids shoes.. but whatever. They're less obviously walking sandals. They're also much quicker to slip on and off, and clearly designed to get wet and dry fast, so will be useful in gross hostel showers, actually at the beach, and whatever. They were less than 10eur.

I spent ten minutes agonising and trying both pairs on before deciding that collectively they still take up less space than my boots, and I will definitely wear both of them a lot, so I can justify both.

A pair of large tan and blue laceup boots beside a pair of pink and purple running shoes A pair of black beach pumps beside a pair of black and khaki walking sandles

Other stuff

I also bought socks :o First new socks since circa Boston 2015, half of which are getting thin in the heels and soles and I can finally throw out.

In Vienna I borrowed my sister's running belt, a fabulous stretchy zip pocket that fits all the things inside but is super light and folds up small. I tried to uh acquire it from her, but she wouldn't let me have it. I found a very similar one SportsDirect for ~10eur so I just bought it. I need to reduce barriers to running, and this isn't the kind of thing secondhand shops have in abundance. I later checked Amazon and the decent looking ones aren't much cheaper.

Aaaand I bought a pair of shorts. Definitely something I should be able to pick up at a secondhand shop or market, but I have pretty specific requirements on the shorts I want (they need to simultaneously work as running shorts, pyjamas and nice leaving the house shorts, obviously have pockets, and not clash with any of my shirts).. they were there, and cheap, and super comfy and met my requirements and I'm really sick of not having shorts.

A mound of bright coloured ankle socks A black belt with a zip pocket A pair of soft black shorts

Also out of charcter, everything I bought was black :o

Stuff out

Before I leave Poland I'll find someone who'll take clothes donations, for distribution or recycling, and leave behind:

stuff in a heap on the floor: brown walking boots, pink and blue shorts/skirt, dark blue tshirt, light yellow tshirt, dark blue winter coat

  • Walking boots - they're still wearable and the leaks are probably reparable.
  • Stretchy shorts/skirt that P (Czech R) gave me in April as a temporary solution to my not having shorts for running. I've never managed to wear them.
  • A tshirt P also gave me. I don't like it as much as I thought I did, the fit is weird.
  • A tshirt Malaysian Mum gave me in Penang in 2016. Same as above.
  • Maybe my winter coat..?? It's so bulky. But I still might be cold and want in the Baltics it this summer. Hmm.

🏷 travel life https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/stuff

Went to the Tri-City Couchsurfing meetup this evening, and met so many wonderful people. Receiving such warmth and hospitality from strangers makes me wanna host again, and offer it to others.

🏷 life travel couchsurfing

📬 IRL I am Amy. My current timezone is Europe/Vienna. I store code on github and bitbucket. On IRC find me as rhiaro on Freenode, imaginarynet and w3.org. On twitter I am @rhiaro. By email I am amy@rhiaro.co.uk.

💰 The last thing I acquired was Amber Museum, for 1pln,

I went home

🍴 The last thing I ate was Potato pancakes with not-cheese, not-salami and broccoli and spinach fried with habanero, rosemary and coconut oil,

📄 The last article I wrote was To Hel and back

🗭 The last thing I scribbled was about travel,

+ The last collection I added to was https://i.amy.gy/201805-poland/ (133 items)

🔁 The last thing I reposted was https://twitter.com/tomayac/status/989448342609461248

📱 The header image is my current phone background. This one is chips and Irn Bru on Portobello beach (Edinburgh) in September 2017.

💩 Here are the 1600 last things I posted. Some of them are quite banal:

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The 128 things I write about most are:

(TODO: My tags are broken. Clicking these will link you to all posts cutting off around December 2016).

coffee (1036) food (1016) bread (812) travel (687) vegetables (663) restaurant (629) fruit (588) salad (389) tea (359) cake (300) tofu (270) groceries (270) beans (269) takeaway (267) life (244) phd (228) leftovers (213) rice (189) chocolate (186) hacking (186) noodles (157) cereal (143) potato (135) http://vocab.amy.so/blog#Done (134) http://vocab.amy.so/blog#Done (134) transit (133) bus (118) pasta (114) vegan (114) indieweb (106) pizza (98) curry (98) socialwg (96) transport (95) burger (95) ca2016 (93) journey (92) social web (90) http://vocab.amy.so/blog#Doing (88) yoga (86) http://vocab.amy.so/blog#Doing (86) soup (86) #justgo (78) train (77) ice cream (73) week in review (73) semantic web (71) linked data (69) smoothie (68) sandwich (67) uk (67) w3c (66) nuts (64) leisure (64) events (61) household (60) us0816 (60) event (59) academia (57) rsvp (56) chips (55) cv (55) lentils (55) resume (53) usa (51) tempeh (48) edinburgh (47) soy (47) slogd (46) boston (46) csarven (46) linked research (45) coconut (45) indiewebcamp (43) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/accommodation (43) fries (42) oats (41) quinoa (40) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/prana+yoga (40) seitan (40) tacos (39) conference (39) thesis (38) Wholey Wonder (38) snack (37) london (37) flight (36) chilli (36) plane (36) star trek (34) social media (33) shelter (33) croatia (33) Malaysia (33) privacy (32) writing (31) italy (31) attendee (31) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/serenity (31) gift (31) Tokyo, Japan (31) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/konzum (31) identity (30) sloph (30) Penang (30) php (29) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/karuzo (29) learning (29) veggie galaxy (29) chickpeas (29) wrap (29) clover (29) Bali, Indonesia (28) cookie (28) sushi (28) quantified self (27) tourism (27) japan (27) work (26) solid (26) nanowrimo (26) websci15 (26) soda (26) ldn (26) crisps (26) test (25) beach (25) https://rhiaro.co.uk/tags/seeds (25)