I remember leaving home for the start of my 3rd long-distance bicycle tour and thinking to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe I’ve been bicycle touring for three whole years in a row.” Now, more than 14 years later, I’m thinking to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe I’ve been bicycle touring for 14 years in a row!”
On May 17th, 2014, I left my parents’ home in Camarillo, California and drove to Los Angeles International Airport with my Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle and all my other worldly possessions packed away inside two small cardboard boxes – the contents of which will remain with me for the next 7+ months as I slowly make my way by bike through 12 or more different countries in Europe and Asia.
At the airport, I checked my bicycle in with Lufthansa, and then said goodbye to my parents, who has escorted me to the airport that day.
On my first bicycle tour at the age of 17, I remember being so scared and anxious about the journey that lay ahead of me. But this year, after having left home like this so many times before, I felt strangely calm. In a way, it didn’t even seem real. It felt as though I was simply going away for a day or two and I’d be back home in a matter of hours. But that isn’t actually the case. I’m going to be away from home for at least 7 months – if not more. I’ll be away from home for a very long time… and I’m not sure when I’ll be back.
My flight from Los Angeles, California to Poznan, Poland was a long one. It was 13 hours until I arrived in Munich, Germany for a short layover… and then I boarded another 1+ hour flight to the tiny town of Poznan, Poland.
Poznan is the city where my last big bicycle tour (a 14-month-long bicycle tour through 24 different countries in Europe and Africa) finally came to an end. But this year, Poznan would be my beginning.
Since I’ve already spent more than a month in Poznan, it was easy to make my way from the airport to the AirBNB apartment that I rented on Ulica Polna. I simply jumped on the airport bus, exited at the Ulica Polna bus stop, and then waited for about 45 minutes out on the street corner for the woman to come with the keys to the apartment I had rented.
As soon as I was in the apartment, I washed up and then walked 45-minutes across town, through my favorite Arena park, to a small school on the south side of time where I have been taking table-tennis lessons in the past. I went to the school to find my old table tennis instructor (a short, baling man who only speaks Polish) and ask him if he had time to train me in table tennis while I was in town.
My table tennis instructor was with with a student when I reached the school, but he told me to come back on May 26th at 6:30 PM and that he’s have time then to give me some more table tennis lessons.
At this point, the jet lag from the long flight to Europe was starting to get to me. So I rushed back to my rented apartment on Ulica Polna, took a quick shower, and then easily fell asleep. I didn’t wake up until early the next morning.
Now that I was rested after the long flight to Poznan, my first goal of the day was to obtain a Polish SIM card to use in my new Samsung Galaxy smartphone. I’ve never used a smartphone on any of my travels in the past and have never even used a smartphone when I was at home in the United States, so this was an entirely new territory for me. Luckily, people are nice in Poland and obtaining a SIM card loaded with phone, text and data was incredibly easy to do. I was able to obtain an Orange SIM card for only 20 PLN (about $7 USD) and I was quickly out the door.
Then I walked just a short distance further into the city center and visited with Erik Witsoe – an American who runs the Bigfoot Coffee Shop in Poznan, Poland. I met Erik during my last day in Poznan over a year ago and had kept in contact with him on Facebook ever since. So it was good to go back and see him again and see how his little coffee shop in the heart of Poznan had changed and grown since my last visit more than a year ago.
After visiting with Erik for what surely must have been a good hour or two, I took a long walk around Poznan and snapped a few photos of the city.
Do you see the big apartment windows on the 4th floor of the building on the right-hand side of the photo below? That was one of the apartments I rented during my previous stay in Poznan in 2013.
After my walk around town, I returned to my apartment, again feeling the affects of jet lag, and took a short nap. Then I woke up later in the evening with plans to meet Karolina, the woman I would be renting my second apartment from in Poznan, Poland just a few days later. She had agreed to meet me and give me the keys to the apartment a few days earlier than planned… and just to be nice, she asked me out to dinner with another young woman she was hosting from the AirBNB website.
After meeting Karolina and having her show me the apartment, we took a taxi into town together and then met up with Bridig – a traveler from the United States who was staying in Poznan for just one night. Together, the three of us went to a small Italian restaurant in the city center and ate pizza, spoke about Poznan and generally just socialized.
After dinner, Brigid and I agreed to meet again in the morning at the Bigfoot Coffee Shop. I then returned to my apartment on Ulica Polna and went back to sleep.
Early the next morning I woke up and ran back into the city center to meet Brigid at the Bigfoot Coffee Shop. We stayed there for a good hour or so and spoke with Erik while other customers came in and out of the shop.
Then I said goodbye to Bridig and walked back to my apartment. I was totally exhausted at this point. For the last two days I had been running about and trying to recover from the long flight to Europe. I was feeling better now, but I was still extremely tired. I spent the rest of the day putting my bicycle together and preparing for my trip to Germany for the start of a week-long bicycle tour down the Danube River with a company called Rad & Reisen.
The photo below shows my apartment on Ulica Polna. My fully-loaded touring bicycle is leaning up against the wall directly in the center of the photo.
My last night in Poznan, Poland before flying to Munich, Germany for the start of the Danube Waltz boat and bike tour, I took one last walk around the city. Then I returned to my apartment, cleaned myself up and packed my bags for my the next leg of my adventure!