The first solo expedition - the cruise by a freight ship to Aalborg Port in Denmark
I arrived to Denmark by a trade ship when I was in college. There was such a possibility that when a ship carried, for example, coal, you could buy a cabin ticket as the “return cruise”. I heard about it when I was at my uncle’s in Stettin. An advertisement about the sale of return cruises tickets was hanging on Plac Kaszubski in the office of Polish Maritime Shipping. The cheapest of them - to Denmark - cost PLN 1900.
It was neither the money nor my parents’ opinion who didn’t believe I would succeed to get the necessary papers which was the biggest problem. I had to go through all the administrative ordeal as a temporary National ID Card was an unheard of thing and I was only 15. I also needed my parents’ notarial consent for travelling and, eventually, the passport. During all these formalities I kept earning money for the cruise picking up strawberries and cleaning windows at gas stations.
We managed to set off from Stettin to Aalborg at the end of the summer holidays. We sailed for example at night through the Danish Straits and I managed to get to the bridge where an officer explained me the navigation procedures, all the pulsating lights, how you keep the course, etc.
We passed Helsingør in the Øresund Strait. This town is located in a place where the strait between Denmark and Sweden is the narrowest and there is Kronborg - the most beautiful renaissance castle in the whole northern Europe, known in the world as Hamlet’s castle.
Aalborg - the first encounter with the West, jeans trousers and oranges available in the stores. We spent a day or two and, next, the ship, it was most probably MV “Gliwice 2”, set off for its return cruise, to Gdansk, this time.
I was coming back to Połczyn Zdrój by train, together with the Ship Master and the Chief Officer. I questioned them about every detail of the life onboard. When I confessed that I also dreamt of travelling, they strongly advised me against it saying that if I wanted to travel, the profession of seaman was the last thing I should choose. There is no space for sightseeing, most of the seaman’s life is at sea and there is no space for family life either.