"I Went To Gdańsk With Somebody" is the story from travel writer Jonny Blair after his epic "Backpacking Centurion" series came to a culmination in March 2015.
The story of how Northern Irishman Jonny Blair ended up in Poland is far from straight forward. Even the pages of this book are not enough detail to explain. The journey was long and fateful. It was a golden dream and a blackened nightmare all in one. But it had to be written and released. Not every Bangorian Northern Irelander dreams of a plate of pierogi with śmietana and a glass of grzaniec in a stare miasto. In this world, Jonny seems like the odd one out.
"He's like a man with a fork in a world of soup" – Noel Gallagher.
It all started with a Gerry Taggart brace in 1991. Northern Ireland beat Poland 3-1 in a football match that Jonny attended in Belfast that night. Jonny's journey to Poland took him via an ice cream hut in Bournemouth, a hostel dorm room in Bucharest, a visit to a windy cave town in Georgia, a Russian translator, nudity in Antarctica and a craft beer pub in Sofia. But it wasn't as simple as that. Jonny doesn't do simple. He also doesn't do lazy, dishonest or boring. He writes from an unwiltable heart and a boundless mind.
Expect thrills and mishaps along the way. We read about Jonny's first ever trip to Poland, a Stalin inspired poem, a night on the rip in Poznań drinking grzane piwo and a chilling visit to the German Death Camps.
Expect football, friends and beer to feature heavily. Jonny likes a drink and isn't shy about it. He finds the comparisons between George Best and Kazik Deyna uncanny. Is it any wonder this Ulsterczyk ended up supporting the Polish green and white fifth tier club KP Starogard Gdański in 2016?
Working as a barman, a teacher, a PR rep, a travel writer and a broccoli farmer all add spice to this szalony journey. We end up in far flung places here. Tashkurgan in Afghanistan, Lam Tin in Hong Kong and Grödig in Austria all serve as geographical pins on this man's globetrotting odyssey to Poland.
When the sun comes up in your unknown Polish town, don't be surprised if Jonny Blair turns up cradling a dobra kawa and craving your Babcia's pierogi ruskie.
"Love remains the drug that's the high, not the pill" - Seal.