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July 30, 2005

Party Time?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Prague, Czech Republic to Krakow, Poland:

The eight hour ride to Krakow was easy but not particularly exciting. I spent the first six hours sitting in a quiet six-person cabin with a group of Czech women, one of whom was reading Paulo Cuelho's "Veronica Decides to Die" in English, which I found to be a representatively Czech choice of reading material.
When we crossed the Polish border an agent came around to check passports. Annoyingly, I didn't get an entry stamp into the country. Stupid EU rules.

A couple of Polish girls came around promoting a hostel in Krakow. I would have sent them packing, true to style, except for the fact that the rates for a single room were very reasonable. And one of the girls was gorgeous.

I had to switch trains when we reached the Polish town of Katowice. We were about 20 minutes late, which meant that the connecting train I had been told to catch had already departed. Luckily, the touts got me onto the next correct train, which I probably could not have figured out by myself without some real difficulty.

The Polish train didn't have compartments like the Czech train did. Each car had one big cabin and none of them had air-conditioning or opening windows. It was an inferno and I was drenched in sweat for the duration of the ride. However, I did get some entertainment from the people sitting across from and in back of me. There were a few American travellers, including a girl from Chicago with Polish parents. She had visited the country a long time ago but still spoke near-fluent Polish. A large Polish man in a tank-top found this too fascinating to pass up and began to offer her advice and suggestions about visiting the country, some of which she translated for the benefit of me and her travel companions. The Polish man looked sort of like Mr. Clean gone on a three year sausage-eating binge, which is only to say that the tank top wasn't such a great choice on a 100 degree train. He was extremely friendly, however, and got really excited at several points in the conversation, yelling "Super! Super!" at the top of his lungs, when something impressed him enough. Toward the end of the ride he explained that his girlfriend was going to pick him up at the station in Krakow. They would then drive to see some friends in Warsaw, at which point it would be "Party Time." In fact, he was bellowing "Party Time! Party Time!" just as we got into Krakow.

I got in a shuttle van with the touts and a number of other people they rounded up on the train (most of them guys, as it turned out). The hostel they took us to matched their descriptions of it, both in terms of facilities and location --- about a 15-minute walk from the Old Town. What I hadn't realized, however, was that the building was really a university dorm that was being used as a hostel for the summer. I checked into a single, showered and changed. It was about 9 PM and pouring rain (the first time I had encountered any in more than a month), but I decided to head out to get some food and a feel for the city. Luckily, it stopped raining just as I left the hostel...

Posted by Joshua on July 30, 2005 04:44 PM
Category: Poland
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