So. Here we go:
1. For beginners, make sure E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. uses the rest room before you set out on any expedition of any length. The alternative is to make sure you pack plenty of undies and a barge full of wipes. I will not go into any lengthy explanation here but we did learn this lesson very early on this journey.
2. Reserve one suitcase in which to pack your entire medicine cabinet because one of the 8 will probably come down with just about every ailment known to mankind during your stay in a foreign country.
One alternative to packing your entire medicine cabinet would be scavenging your host's entire house in the wee hours of the morning looking for either medicine or home remedy ingredients.
Another alternative would be staying up for most of the night trying to soothe a sick child as you wait for the breaking of dawn and the opening of a local pharmacy.
Our medical issues while in Poland were really quite minor - but included a severe toothache, earache, fever, teething, headache and fatigue. Ok. Ok. Fatigue barely counts as a medical issue but it was rather debilitating at times.
The upside of the toothache was that one son came home with a Polish filling in his tooth for a fraction of what the same treatment would've cost here at home. We successfully convinced him that he brought home the coolest souvenir.
3. Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry on bag just in case your checked in luggage gets lost in Germany.
I (semi) rolled my eyes when my nearly 80 year old mother in law reminded us of this fact during our last minutes of packing. I confess that I felt annoyed and didn't really have time to think about one more thing. Besides, in my years of traveling I had never experienced losing luggage. However, thanks to my husband's insistence we did end up with an extra set of clothing for nearly everyone in our carry on bags.
There is a first time for everything.
Sure enough, when we landed in Warsaw only half of our suitcases arrived with us.
I keenly felt my own stubbornness when I had to borrow a pair of underwear from my sister in law.
4. Always keep your passport within reach.
5. A copy of your passport is worthless.
6. Plan plenty of margin in to your trip schedule just in case you get in a tussle with border patrol.
7. Keep your passport with you at all times (see #4)
So. Yeah. We had a minor run in with the Polish border patrol while on our 3 day trip to Northern Poland.
Amos decided that he didn't want the stress of carrying 8 passports with us for 3 days since he was already toting a load of other important tickets and reservations. He made a photo copy of each passport just in case we should need them for some reason. Keep in mind that we were not planning to cross any borders and we had already successfully entered Poland a week earlier.
There really shouldn't be a need for our passports, or so we thought.
And we really didn't need them, except for that one particular moment.
It was at the Malbork train station. We had just exited the train and were gathering our bags and children and trying to orient ourselves when I saw them out of the corner of eye.
Three of them. Were they police??
Oh. Border Patrol.
hmmm. well whatever.
They didn't rattle me at all since we had no slick tricks up our sleeves or anything.
We passed them and continued on our way to find a locker in which to stow our luggage while touring the castle.
We were messing with the locker when I realized they had followed us and wanted to speak to us.
Well. Still....whatever. No big deal....we're just a big family fumbling around here trying to find our way to the castle. They'll soon figure out we're clueless tourists and we'll all go on our merry way.
First question put us in immediate suspicion: Do you have your passports with you for identification??
We were escorted to the waiting room in the train station for a few minutes while they looked at our documents (or lack thereof) and discussed what should happen next.
Thus began the long and tedious conversations back and forth and around and about and hither and yon concerning our very threatening situation.
The copies of the passports were basically irrelevant even though one could easily see that each of us matched one of the 8 photos, not to mention that our kids look very much alike and are very obviously our biological kids.
We gave them all kinds of detailed information about where, when, how we flew into Poland a week ago and how we're planning to leave in another week.
Until it was all over we ended up spending 3+ hours in this waiting room being guarded by 3 Polish Police Border Patrol Officers who seemed to take their job quite seriously.
Our bad situation was resolved by Shannon getting our passports from our bedroom in his home and taking them to the local police station in his town to get legit copies faxed to the border patrol in Malbork. After all these connections were finally made we only had to sign about 50 papers and then we were free to go.
The whole situation to me was laughable.
We were perfectly harmless.
I felt sorry that the Border Patrol wasted their time and energy on us.
(Just for the record, Amos did not feel sorry for them one bit)
However, I will have to give them an A+ on doing a thorough job.
I only wish I had a few photos of those officers guarding the door to our waiting area. It was amusing to watch them trying to maintain their solemn and stern expressions for 3 hours straight. I suspect that as soon as they were relieved from their duty they went out the door and fell to the ground in fits of riotous laughter.
We really do not know why we were targeted by the Border Patrol.
Why did we look suspicious?
Our American friends who live in Poland and our Polish friends both were perplexed by the situation.
One thing I know is that we have an experience under out belts that we will not quickly forget. Next time we're in Poland, I promise, the passports will be securely carried with us wherever our feet do take us.
|just a random shot taken by Nicholas|