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Running Start

by Tara

Last night, I told Tyler that I was feeling like a schlub. Our adventure has really changed how I feel about exercise; over the course of a year, I've grown used to lots and lots of physical activity! Since we started driving, I've missed moving my body. I've felt stagnant and lethargic, finding it hard to fully wake up in the morning without my legs pumping and the wind in my face.

As always, Tyler encouraged me to "put my money where my mouth is" by suggesting we start an exercise regime of some kind. So, after some thought, I decided we should go running on a regular basis. Today was our first attempt at this new routine, and also the first time I've been genuinely excited to go running! It was about 7AM when I jostled Tyler awake so he could join me.

Our plan? Three kilometers on foot.

Tyler's note: Ever since I got my hat, Tara has been snatching it at every possible opportunity. Here she is, ready to run, in her stolen attire.

Tara Preparing for a Run

Bike shorts on, we set off for a loop around the campsite. Tyler brought our GPS so he could keep track of our distance. As we ran through woods, morning light filtering through the trees, and the city's old town visible across the river, I thought to myself, "I think I could enjoy this running business!"

The jog was a success. It was just long enough to snap me out of my funk, and just short enough that I was still looking forward to doing it again tomorrow. I felt even better after we took showers and discovered that it was only 8:15 AM. We. Must. Stick. To. This. Plan.

With the whole morning before us, we drove into town to explore. We had no idea when we randomly set our finger down on the town of Toruń that it would happen to be a beautiful walled city teeming with life and history!

Church Grate Toruń Signpost Toruń Old Town

Another unexpected bonus: it was market day! Tyler and I walked along, picking out little Polish presents for his brothers and sisters…

Toruń Market

…and admiring these GIGANTIC loaves of bread:

Polish Market Bread

As we walked, I began noticing souvenirs involving the image of a globe, and lots of street names that had "Copernicus" in them. Excited, I leaned over to Tyler and said, "hey wait a minute, maybe Nicolaus Cop--"

Nicolaus Copernicus Statue

…and just then, we rounded a corner to find a statue of Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik in Polish). Toruń was the astronomer and mathematician's hometown!

I knew his ideas were key building blocks in our growing knowledge of how the universe works, but I couldn't remember specifics, so I looked it up. Here's a quick refresher on his theories:

  1. There is no one center of all the celestial circles or spheres.

  2. The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only of gravity and of the lunar sphere.

  3. All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.

  4. The ratio of the earth's distance from the sun to the height of the firmament (outermost celestial sphere containing the stars) is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth's radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.

  5. Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth's motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.

  6. What appear to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.

  7. The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth's. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.

While wandering the streets of this picturesque town, exploring back alleys and narrow lanes, we stumbled upon yet another thing that got me really excited: The Living Museum of Gingerbreads:

Living Museum of Gingerbreads

I love gingerbread!

Tyler waited while I climbed a wooden staircase to where I assumed the exhibit would be. Instead of glass cases full of gingerbread making equipment, I was greeted by the cheerful Anne, dressed in a peasant costume. She informed me that this was no ordinary museum—they did interactive performances! After a short play, museum-goers would get the chance to make their own gingerbread.

Anne at the Museum of Gingerbreads

The structured format of the museum meant that we had to be in group of five people or more, and the next tour would be in Polish. So, it didn't work out to see the performance, but I did have a nice chat with Anne, and she graciously allowed me to take photos to my heart's content.

Museum of Gingerbreads

Thank you, Anne! It was so nice to meet you!

While I was busy admiring handcarved wooden gingerbread molds, Tyler was ogling this, as he put it, "thunderdome" car. It was made in the GDR by Automobilwerk Eisenach.

GDR Car (Automobilwerk Eisenach) GDR Car (Automobilwerk Eisenach) GDR Car (Automobilwerk Eisenach)

By the time we were done with all of this sightseeing, it was only noon. Feeling like we'd done a day's worth of "stuff" already, we got in our little red car and headed to our next destination: Warsaw.

This routing choice was made in about five minutes by pulling up the map on our GPS and saying:

Tyler Well, should we go to Lithuania today?
Tara Ummm, I dunno. It feels a bit premature? I like Poland.
Tyler Me too. Hey, we could go to Warsaw!
Tara ….welll, it is just a big city, and you know how much we love big cities (generally, not much).
Tyler Yeah, but it's the capital of Poland, when are we going to be in Poland again?
Tara Good point. Lets go!

And so, we left. Tyler routed us on back roads; as soon as we got out of town and into the countryside, we were struck once more by how much this area looks like the Midwest.

LRC in Poland Poland: Just Like Home

We passed people picking strawberries, and even more selling them on the roadsides, shading themselves under large umbrellas.

Strawberry Picking

…of course we bought some:

Polish Strawberries

As we drove, dozens of windmills whirled peacefully around us on the quiet plains. So, we stopped once more to capture them:


…and my new favorite photo subject, grain:


While we were enjoying our sunny photo-shoot, I tried to make a clover necklace. Unfortunately, Polish clover stems seem to be a bit tougher than their American counterparts. Instead, I made a nice little bouquet, and shoved it under the sun-shade in our car.

Tara & Wildflowers

While I was busy with flowers, Tyler took the opportunity to use his new camera, and snapped a shot of the fields that will hopefully look good in black and white!

Tyler & His Belfoca

Back on the road, this time in a car decorated with wildflowers, we decided to just get there. So, we rolled along a bumpy country road until it joined the highway. Though we still were much slower than many of the motorists, we made quick work of the rest of our ride.

In Warsaw, we headed to the campsite we'd found online last night, but were disappointed to discover it was ridiculously expensive, and didn't have the internet access they'd advertised. We opted for a hotel: somehow not much more expensive, and it had everything we needed for another day of working and sightseeing. Tonight we'll stay in, working on our respective projects, and tomorrow, we'll venture out to see the city!