Got So High

September 13, 2017

Sometimes you just need to reset. Slow down for a bit and clear your mind. The mountains seem like the perfect place for that endeavor. So, as soon as I heard my friend was headed out to the Tatras, I knew I would follow in his footsteps.

I’d never ventured into the Tatran trails. I’d been in the mountains a few times, but it was nothing more than short trips. A few hours’ walk on easy terrain. I wasn’t expecting any exceptions to that rule and I carelessly left all the planning in my friend’s hands. When it started getting steeper and steeper, I still didn’t know how hard a trail we had chosen. The route to Świnica is the most difficult and dangerous mountain trail in Poland, right behind the Eagle’s Path.

It was a damp, rainy day. There was mist all around, seemingly close enough for us to touch it. Now I’m glad it was there – it protected me from seeing the depths of the abyss right underneath. There were chains all over the rocks. Getting through that trail was hell… but heavenly at the same time. Purgatory. When I sat down on the mountaintop, with all of its 2301 metres of height underneath me, my legs were trembling. I hadn’t felt anything of this kind for a long time. The recognition that actually, quite a lot depended on where I’d place my hands. Maybe I’d never felt it at all.

After reaching the top of Świnica we set out in the direction of the Zawrat Pass and then to The Valley of the Five Lakes. The misty path led us amongst some unbelievably beautiful sights. Hollow and refreshing. I could keep wandering through there for hours and hours.

When we got to the mountain hut, freezing cold but happy, we found ourselves a bunkbed each and sat down in the main hall. There was fire all crackling at the logs in the fireplace, a crowd bustiling in merriment. I got high on the Tatras and truly fell in love.


Mishaps and Fortune

July 29, 2017

I believe I will never forget those days in Valencia and Alicante. Every journey of mine has a unique atmosphere – one that will never be recreated. This vacation was a chaotic mix of laziness and haste, excess amounts of alcohol, all-day trips and being too aware of how the time passes. It was also a mixture of things, good and bad, occurring one after another. All up to the turning point. None of us had expected what happened at the end and we were completely unprepared.

We arrived in Valencia in the afternoon. We found our accommodation and set out on a walk. For the Spanish it is entirely normal to talk so loud that three blocks in every direction, people are up to date with the subject matter. Thus, the first evening we witnessed a lot of ordinary, never ending shouting matches and one significant disagreement. All that happened in the street, naturally. After returning to Poland I was quick to miss this frantic country. Whenever I hear people talk in the street at night, I now think of Spain.

We visited the Oceanographic and the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia’s main attractions. We played with electricity and optical illusions. We saw little chicks hatching, dinosaurs reconstructed, and dolphins dancing. We could watch wild animals such as penguins, seals, and crocodiles. We spent there two entire days, from sunrise until sundown, and yet we did not discover all the nooks and crannies.

We were accommodated in an apartment that oversaw a small alley. The large table in the dining room was always full of tapas. We wanted to try everything and bought Spanish food in huge quantities. When I fell in love with sangria, we made it ourselves in a big pot. We poured it into glasses with a ladle.

Our stay in Alicante was completely different than Valencia. It was only then that we began to live to the fullest every day. We rented a car and drove a lot, looking for wild beaches, waterfalls, and beautiful landscapes. At times, we were accompanied by Jorge, A.’s friend who lives there. Now, back home, I think I’m not capable of truly experiencing moments. I have promised myself to work on it, though.

When Jorge joined us, we went for a walk around the hilltop Santa Barbara Castle. We saw the whole of Alicante from up there. It was especially picturesque just after sundown – a seaside town in orange and pink. We sat on huge rocks by the castle and waited until it got dark.

Our last day we left the apartment and set out on our way to the airport. We had a few hours to spare, so we parked the car in the center, at the castle hill. We wanted to enjoy the view for the last time. After we got back, a broken car window was our welcome. Everything had been stolen. We went to the police station to testify and the forensics guy checked for fingerprints. He found none.

All my documents were gone and I felt non-existent. At least to the airport employees. I had my testimony from the Spanish police station, but it changed nothing. There was no way they’d let me go back to Poland and the flight was due in a few hours. It was an extraordinary feeling. I kept dozing off at an airport bench with no documents and no luggage, with only my phone and my camera on me. The only things I always carried, the phone and the camera. Nothing else.

I didn’t know what to do. The airport people didn’t want to let me through. I was a ghost to them, after all. Internally, I’d already begun working on a plan to get to the embassy in Madrid. There was no one who could help me in Alicante, there’s not even a consulate. Just then, when I was ready to travel inland, my dad saved me. He sent me a picture of my passport from back when I was about nine… and it worked. It’s marvelous how red tape functions. At the gate I identified myself with my testimony and the ages-old passport. And I got home. It’s partly because of it all that I believe I will never forget those days in Valencia and Alicante.


Down These Strange Alleys

May 10, 2017

This is a girl whose questions raise doubts. Extremely unapparent. Baffling, especially to strangers, and always at ease. If you think you understand something, she’ll make you see the error of your ways with just a few short words. If you think you know yourself and your motivations well enough, you two should have a chat.

With just a bit of luck she could get lost in her own garden. When she needs to get somewhere, she always carries a map. Even if she’d already been there. It’s as if she were constantly rediscovering every place she visits.

I can't help but think that this girl is never in a hurry because haste is not elegant. That is something I would like to be... if I didn't have to be in a hurry all the time.

About me

I am at a crossroads with several passions that, in general, may be described as words, sights, and feelings. Formally, I'm a Polish Philology and Sociology graduate and right now I work as a TV editor. Not so formally, I’m just a word lover and an amateur photographer.

Here is another thought storage of mine, old, dusty, and abandoned, where I used to write while I was studying literary criticism

© Sylwia Kluczewska