return to Ukraine Canada Corps exchange, and other travels

PS21 - Torun

See Torun on a map.

January 4th, 2006: in Transit, Torun

My last major stop in Poland was the beautiful city of Torun, which I visited with the purpose of meeting up with my old host brother, Karol.

"I left my things at the station and went for a walk on the other side of the river. All the NetCorps people reading this remember that big bridge, right? It’s the only way across the Wisla aside from the rail bridge. And it’s long, really long. Anyway, I walked underneath it... The bridge looks really cool when it’s framed with tree branches, ice floes, and the odd duck."

Not long after coming back onto the street I saw a man digging for something in the snow. That is to say I thought he was a homeless man looking for bottles. I was going to give him a wide berth, but I looked back out of curiosity, and he looked up at me and asked for help. He had fallen over in the snow and couldn’t get up! I pulled him up on his feet and held him for a long moment. We started to walk together, I holding his arm.

Once in a while, he’d start stumbling quickly and have to turn sideways into a fence, which he’d grab to support himself. I tried to be the relaxedly breathing person that I wished him to emulate, but it was no use.

This was fast becoming scary. I kept as cool as possible and used one of our fence layovers to reach for my phrasebook and ask him a few questions.

“Where are you going?”
“To home.”
“Where is your home?”
“There,” he pointed. He then suggested I find him a taxi. I was prepared to flag one down, but none appeared. We continued a little further and came upon a bus stop. There I explained to a twenty-something female peer that I didn’t speak Polish and that this man needed to go home. (I’m not sure how I did on the second item.) The man thanked me, she took him away with attentive care, and that was that.

As I walked across the bridge I wondered what caused that man to fall in the first place. Was he shaky just from the chill or was he having muscle problems? How long was he in the snow? It was frightening to think about. I was suddenly more thankful than usual for my health and youth, and started singing “Old Man” by Neil Young as I crossed the remainder of the bridge.

The statue of Copernicus, in front of city hall.

A prison, Torun.

Part of the Nicolaus Copernicus University.

"I found the planetarium, saw the signs mentioning that there were two shows in English, and that the oribitarium tour would take 40 minutes – I was foaming at the mouth! and… the door was locked. Wha?! A woman came to the door and gently pointed out that they were closed from the 31st to the 6th. I was heartbroken."

An example of one of the narrow streets in Torun.

It looks like the old bridge over the Wisla came out from here.

The anchor where we took a group photo in 2005.

But where's the group now?


"Nicolaus Copernicus: A man from Torun moved the Earth and stopped the Sun."

"I met Karol at the statue and we went for tea at the leaning tower. I didn’t know they had a café in there. It looked like I was standing up the wrong way, even though the floor was level (the brickwork wasn’t). The dimensions were small; the place would have been great for hobbits were it on the ground.

"I really enjoyed my chat with Karol, and afterwards he took me to the train station. He invited me to stay with him next time I’m in Poland, and I believe I shall.

"And the rest, as they say, is yet to come..."

On the train back to Warsaw:

Next: The return to Ukraine

return to Ukraine Canada Corps exchange, and other travels