From Copenhagen to Warsaw

I haven’t posted anything on here in a very long time. Trust me, I had plans. In fact, I had a long list of ideas and prompts, enough to post at least once a week for the last 7 months. The thing is, I haven’t really been myself for a while now.

In January, I went to Copenhagen. The city was even more beautiful and friendly and spectacular than I could have imagined. The apartment I stayed in was beautiful. The coffee was fantastic. Even the freezing cold weather couldn’t stop me from seeing everything there was to see.

I did have the poor fortune to have a sinus infection for the entire trip, but it didn’t stop me from relishing in the beauty of the place. If you’re looking for a good café amongst beautiful, aging architecture, then you must visit. I implore you. Perhaps go in the summer if you’re not a fan of a warm hat though.

Some must-see but not as well publicised locations can be easily listed:

  • The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – an incredible and vast collection of sculpture in the centre of Copenhagen. It’s very well worth the price of entry and very well organised into galleries that cover different eras and styles. Great gift shop.
  • Søerne – otherwise known as The Lakes. Despite the fact that they were littered with NYE debris when I decided to go for a walk along them and despite the fact that it was snowing, this is a sight that is difficult to miss but easy to overlook. The surface is like glass. In the right weather, the water is completely still and perfectly reflects the high-rise architecture on the opposite bank.
  • Rosenborg Castle Gardens – Though the castle is stunning, it is arguably the beautiful gardens in which it sits that most fascinated me. They are perfectly laid out and are an excellent escape from the busier castle. If you have a wander you may even come across the Hercules Pavilion; a well earned photo-op.
  • Thorvaldsens Museum – Another sculpture gallery (can you sense a theme emerging?) housing the works and replicas of Bertel Thorvaldsens. Cheaper than the Glyptotek, it is well worth a visit if you appreciate neoclassical sculpture and want somewhere a little less well trodden.
  • Agnete and the Mermen Statue – this is absolutely my favourite part of Copenhagen. The statue is hauntingly beautiful, mostly because it sits beneath the surface of the canal at Højbro bridge. Scarcely even visible at first, the form and details of the statue come and go in the moving water. There is something intriguing in the fact that you have seen something in the middle of Copenhagen that is hidden from the world. It feels like your own secret discovery in the middle of the city.

It was when I came home from this little European escapade that things quickly began to fall apart. Breakdowns of numerous relationships, difficult anniversaries, rapid weight loss and seemingly insurmountable academic pressure carved me into a shell. I hated the thought of anything other than where I stood in any given moment; even then I wasn’t a fan of the given moment.

Copenhagen and all of the enjoyment I had there seemed to be gone. I was depressed to the point of sitting, catatonic, and listening to one song on repeat. That song – if you’re at all curious – was “Somebody to Stay” by Vancouver Sleep Clinic. It was suitably slow and quiet and Bon Iver-esque enough to compliment my distressing sadness.

I actually don’t know what happened in the weeks that followed that turn in late January. It has all blurred into one elongated mental mess. A harsh contrast from the clarity of my time in Copenhagen. It was like I stepped off of the plane and fell into a void. I kept “running away” so to speak, getting on trains to Leeds or Leamington. I would buy tickets in a drunken haze shortly before being peeled off of the floor crying by my friends. I knew I needed to get away but nothing seemed to satisfy that need.

Thankfully, I jumped at the opportunity to go to Warsaw with friends. It reignited my soul a little bit. I was still trying to work out just what I was in the wake of losing so much in such a short space of time. I needed to breathe in some life again and do my best to accept new people in place of self-prescribed loneliness.

I have only been to Poland once before. A short stop in the city of Wrocław comprised an early part of a 2014 Interrail trip around Europe. I did fall in love with Poland then and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to revisit that fascination amidst a lot of difficult change.

The weather was mostly unpleasant and grey, if not raining. However there is something about seeing Warsaw in the rain which made it even more entrancing. It is a city made for gloom, especially in the old town where the washed out patterns and colours sit stark against the clouds.

We ended up speaking to a lone protester outside of the high court, we witness a larger protest regarding freedom of the media, and we roamed around the Museum of the History of Polish Jews with a mixture of intrigue and sadness. All of this instilled in me a sense of change; better than that, a sense of good change. No, I did not “find myself” on the streets of Warsaw, but for once I didn’t feel so lost in the turmoil that was my life at the time.

I found new friends, drank good beer, drank even better vodka, danced in the most interesting club and played on a swing set. I was reminded what company felt like. The dip into the void seemed to close up the moment that I had a vodka mixer dropped on my patent gold brogues in that nightclub. Things started to level out in my head again. When we left, I was actually ready to go home.

Honestly, the most important thing that my journey from Copenhagen to Warsaw taught me is that you can’t always run away. Actually, running away doesn’t help and it doesn’t work. I healed more old wounds when I got back to England than I ever did in Poland. By paving my life with new people, and good people at that, I had realised that there is comfort in being at home.

Travel is still like therapy for me, but those few weeks that I enjoyed the English Spring in Leamington Spa, drinking gin and reading and eating cake, are the real light at the end of the tunnel. In order to fix what had gone wrong in my head, I very quickly realised that instead of running away I finally needed to run back.

Soon I will be heading off again and I promise that I will carry my entire life with me. I’m going to be blogging throughout my California road trip and writing in my diary and collecting videos and photos of my time. I refuse to forget. The start of this year taught me far too much to waste a second of my next adventure.

Until next time.

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