I am enjoying my second full day in Sopot,Poland, a small resort/spa town just north of Gdansk. It is quite rare to have time off on the Baltic Sea and to witness the rebirth of an area as a tourist getaway. Those of us who travel in Europe and elsewhere are used to the prices and crowds of the south of France and Spain as well as other typical warmer Mediterranean getaways. This trip exposed me to the lesser known resort areas of Croatia and now Northern Poland.

You can tell that things get pretty cold here in the winter. The evenings are quite brisk and by looking at the buildings you can tell the wind cuts off the water and straight into your bones. You also in August see the locals storing up on sunshine as there must be some pretty bleak months the rest of the year.

One of the most obvious landmarks is the Molo, Europe’s longest wooden pier. Over 515 meters, it is a destination for walks and views. From the tip you can catch a pirate ship, a tourist boat or look east and see into Russia. The seagulls are quite fat and sassy, without much fear. I have a few remarkably close shots of some at my Flickr site.

The center of the town includes a walking street called the Bohaterów Monte Cassino where the majority of my photos from the 29th were taken. There is shopping, restaurants, street performers and a wonderful assortment of people from all over the world. I did find the new Crooked House but did not locate a crooked man… at least not visibly.

This is another part of Europe which has money flowing into it, the cranes work into the night and the hotels and apartments are being built. These places are alternatives, for now cheaper and less spoiled than the old stand-bys, just going on the radar of the Internet traveler and the Westerner who has known nothing about the east until now. These places have been getaways for Kings and captains of industry for a long time but because the cultures and languages kept these places their quiet getaways, we only hear of them now. Perhaps we just didn’t look, listen or care.

I believe that I have stated here on PIBC how comfortable I am is most of Europe. Like most folks from the US I am mono-lingual and though I’m trying to do something about that, I do not feel uncomfortable with communication, eating or traveling here. I was born in the south of Spain and feel a connection there. My mother’s people come from the north of the UK and I feel a connection there. So now I find myself only about 6 hours drive from where my Great Grandfather lived. I am among people of my own stock as they say; the same facial features and body types, the same skin tone and hair. I even have a common last name and it’s interesting to hear it pronounced correctly. The Baltic during the summer reminds me of the quieter portions of the Atlantic where I spent time on the Maine coast for its coldness and not-so-white sandy beaches.

I’ve always felt as if I didn’t fit it where I was in the states; I felt limited in Western Mass, shipwrecked in Los Angeles and totally landlocked in Texas. I tend to make places my home for a few days and move on as a roadie does. I’ve spent nearly 3 months over here this year and will be back for another 30 days later this year. I am someone who can be described as having wanderlust, traveling shoes, itchy feet; I always come back but I have to leave again. Over here I feel able to walk around quietly and perhaps be mistaken for a local or a neighboring foreigner (I get spoken to in German, Spanish and Danish sometimes rather than English).

From an artistic side, I am inspired by new surroundings and the layers of history, art and culture that extend beyond the strip mall mentality pushed by developers from the US and their imitators. Walking around a small town with just the obligatory Mickey D’s and in its wake, beautiful churches, sculpture, gardens and sounds, I am stimulated to write, take pictures and find a way to take what I am seeing and share it, catalog it or mash it up into a new form. I’m not trying to entertain; this is about personal expression. In speaking to others about my work they all feel it is important that it is shared with the world and not hidden away for my own personal perusal. I’m starting to understand that a little clearer now; my fear of rejection with my art has to take a back seat and I have to take the chance, put it out there, take my lumps and not allow that to affect my work’s path. It is time to develop the courage of an artist, the courage to create.