Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When I think of Poland I think of shrubs...and chickens!

Yeah, yeah, I know. About time already. I don't have any exceptionally good excuses except for the fact that:
A.) I don't have internet and my house.
B.) The internet at school has been ridiculous as of late.
C.) There are days when I just don't have it in me.
D.) The sun is out, and I'd really rather be out in it, seeing as how there has been an obnoxious report that it could snow again on Thursday! Considering how much I was sweating when I walked in to work today I find that a little hard to believe, but I'd rather not waste all the sun time in the office all the same.

So now, the moment I know you've all been waiting for, a little recap on my last trip into the European wilds. First of all, a short discourse on the joys of public transport. I actually can appreciate it most of the time. The main issue being that I'm dependent on someone else's schedule. I can't just pick it all up and go when I want to. But for the most part it works out pretty well. It's fairly inexpensive, generally predictable, and it makes me spend most of my time walking which is good for the physique after all.
This trip, however, the travel arrangements were less than stellar. I wasn't overly thrilled by a 12 hour train ride to begin with. But with so few long weekends, and Naomi's desperate desire to make it to Poland, I decided I could make it through. So away we went, leaving our flat around 7 AM on Friday morning. We caught the train with no trouble, and headed away, across the snowy fields, past the adorable Czech cottages, feeling confident that, even with expected strangeness due to construction on the tracks, that we would have no trouble making it to Prague in time for the 2:06 train to Krakow.
Things were going well until we randomly stopped in the middle of one of those fields. Just stopped. No moving. And no reason. A minute or two later one of the porters came by and started rattling something off to us in Czech. They have the interesting habit of speaking as quickly as possible and not pausing for a breath, making it next to impossible, besides the blank stares, to inform them that we have no idea what in the who-ha they're talking about. Eventually she did pause, and we quickly rushed in with our "Ne Chesky. Anglitsky prosim?" This tends to freak them out a bit, and this time was no different. She closed our compartment and moved on to the next, where we heard her asking the people there if any of them spoke English. A moment or two later she returned with a guy who professed very little English ability, but who had no trouble explaining to us that the train had run out of electricity and we would have to wait a while until they could get it moving and then we would be transferred onto buses. We had expected the buses at some point, but not anywhere near this early.
So we sat and waited, hoping that the delay wouldn't set us back to far as we had no other way to get to Krakow. The bus started going about 20 minutes or so later, and we limped along to a small station where everyone poured out of the train and rushed to the solitary bus. There was then some rattling on in Czech. We understood enough to realize that it would be around an hour before the buses could get there, so we might as well try out the pub in the minuscule station. There being snow on the ground, Naomi and I decided to follow the rush into the miniature waiting room. We quickly found ourselves standing in the middle of a bunch of Czechs who had all managed to find space around the walls, leaving us to stand out with our backpacks and strange language. Fun. We had some entertainment while we waited at least. There was a long haired dachshund showing off his ability to chase a sock with a squeaky toy stuffed in it around the room, and a two year old intent on getting her hands on the crusty old hot dog and bun that had been neglected on the bench. Her mother kept trying to dissuade her, but any time she could wiggle a little bit closer without being noticed she'd let her hands inch toward the tantalizing sausage. Yummy.
After about 45 minutes we were finally back on the bus. We were beginning to worry a bit more about the likelihood of making it to Prague with enough time to buy our tickets, lunch, and Polish zloty.
Crystal had opted to come along via a bus from Karlovy Vary, and we were in contact with her through texts throughout the trials and trevales. She seemed to be coming along nicely, and planned to get into Prague around 1:30. We decided that whoever got there first would pick up the tickets and, time willing, rush to McDonalds for lunch. We rode the bus for a bit over an hour and then got back on the train in Plzen. Things were progressing nicely enough then. We went a different way than usual, which took a bit longer, but we arrived in Prague shortly after 1. We quickly got the tickets, and bought out one money changers zloty. We then hurried along to McDonalds where I purchased two big mac meals. We made our way back to the station, our hands freezing from carrying the food and sodas, and then sat down to eat and wait for Crystal. In the midst of watching a drug deal go down not five feet in front of us, Naomi was madly texting with Crystal who was having a bit of traffic trouble. She still had half an hour, and we were doing our best to remain optimistic. I mean, she had to make it. There was really no other option...
Well, apparently there was, because she didn't make it. It rather reminded me of the time I was going to try to meet up with my family to see the Romanov collection in Portland and after driving 80 through road construction all the way from Albany to Portland, I spotted their car once and then lost them and ended up eating alone at Wendy's and waiting hours for my sister to get home, only to finally give up all together and sadly go home. Crystal texted us about 5 minutes after we left the station from the platform. It was really quite tragic. As was our traveling situation...
The train leaving Prague was, well, packed is a nice way to put it. Naomi managed to get a seat, but I was stuck in the hallway, balancing my bag and Crystal's forlorn big mac meal. I did get a few minutes of seat time, but then the people who had booked those seats got on the train and we were banished to the hall once again. Only this time the ridiculous occupants had left their massive backpack and suitcase in the hallway, so I was forced to squeeze up against it whilst balancing even more of my stuff. I was less than impressed, and felt free to say so in English, not really caring if they understood or not. Seeing as how they were thoroughly engrossed in one another I rather think they didn't notice even if they spoke English.
Eventually after Ostrava, about 5 hours outside of Prague, the passengers thinned out. We got seats a bit before that, and ended up sitting down.
Well, now that I've gotten us to Krakow, I'm going to leave and go enjoy the pretty weather before the clouds take over. There is more to come. Never fear :p

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

"a short discourse on the joys of public transport..." This definitely had a Jerome K. Jerome vibe =)