When I stop to think about it, there is something really ironic about me visiting the Stogi Beach last December. On a daily basis, I live about a 30-minute bus ride away from the beach and still I rarely go there. And yet I took a 10-hour train ride (literally across the entire country of Poland) in order to take a walk on the beach in a freezing cold. I guess this just proves that the grass is always greener on the other side, even if you’ve just hopped over.
Still, the beach was lovely – and, in any case, I would certainly not get the same experience in L.A.
Luckily, the day was bright – even though it had a definite arctic feel to it – which explains why Andy and I encountered so many people on the way. We stopped at a local cafe to buy a hot cup of tea for each of us (at which point I need to mention that the size of the cups was outrageously small given the weather, and should be punishable by law) and so equipped we bravely proceeded to the sea shore.
Needless to say, it was beautiful. Due to my love of everything industrial, I was especially enamored with the silhouettes of harbor cranes looming in the distance at the North Harbor. Though it does not look intimidating, the harbor was apparently the first one to serve ships from Asia within the entire Baltic Sea basin, and still remains the main destination in the region for the largest vessels from China, Korea and other Asian countries. A tell-tale result of attracting direct calls from Asia to the Baltic Sea is the split of the most important shipping trade-lane in the world, Asia – Europe, into Asia – North West Europe and Asia – Baltic.
The glossy, delicate sheen you can see on the sand in the picture above is actually a thin layer of perfectly smooth ice. Granted, it does not look dangerous at all, and still at one point I needed to scream for Andy’s help as I was standing on the ice, slowly sliding towards the sea with no capacity for moving. My personal hero that he is, Andy managed to grab my hand and pull me back in time. Just imagine getting soaking wet in this weather.
We spent quite a time walking along the shore, and then we fancied we would look for some amber. Interestingly enough, it is more probable to find it in the winter months than in the summer, and not only because of the lack of hordes of tourists, but also as from December to April it is much more possible for the pieces of amber to be washed ashore, mainly due to heavier storms and the fact that water close to the shore gets saltier with below-zero temperatures, thus allowing the amber to flow more easily.
We indeed managed to find three most miniscule pieces of amber (none of them was bigger than a quarter of an inch), which filled us with joy totally disproportionate to our acquisition. Later, in the nearby beach bar over fried fish and some hot beer, Andy and I proceeded to scientifically check whether what we had found was truly the precious gemstone, which brought us even more joy, if possible. The method we used consisted mostly of rubbing the piece against our sweaters, thus putting some static charge on it, and trying to lift yet more miniscule pieces of tissue with it. Out of eight findings, three passed this test, and Andy has stored them somewhere we wouldn’t loose them. Which is probably in his backpack, but we haven’t checked in a while.
All in all, though by the end of our walk I was starting to count how many toes I could still move at will, I am really glad we had a chance to see the Baltic Sea in all its winter glory. Not to mention that I probably won’t see a lot of snow very soon, so additionally it was simply nice to experience a genuine winter.
(Watch closely whether this last statement will splendidly backfire at me when I go to visit Chicago at the end of March. If I know anything about Chicago weather, it’s this: anything can happen, as long as it’s windy.)