Leaving the Warsaw Uprising Museum we hustle through the rain to shelter as fast as possible but it’s no use, we’re drenched after one block. Both wearing raincoats but that doesn’t help our kicks – feet and socks are soakers, same with our britches. We spoke into a coffee shop called Frankie’s looking like a sad pair of stray dogs. Order up some hot drinks and now have to look forward to sitting in wet socks on an overnight bus.
We’re short on time so Murphy rustles up an Uber. Seven minutes. Waiting twenty. It’s Warsaw rush hour. The guy isn’t moving on the map at all – do we bail? I bang on the window of a cab but he tells me to scram, waiting on people from the office next to Frankie’s. Okay our Uber starts budging but this is going to turn into a real race.
This place is jammed up but our man is a champ and pulls some fancy u-turns, balls the jack and slides into lanes with his middle finger in the air, we’re across town, we dash into the station.
So to recap – as far as we can tell, and we’ve got a tenuous grasp on this situation, the bus for Kaunas, Lithuania leaves from Warsaw West train station. Given the traffic situation, our best bet is to train it west back towards Krakow, jump off first stop, jump the bus. So we look for trains west.
Find tickets to Warsaw West for nine minutes from now, perfect. Buy them. Run to the departure board to find our platform… Wait, where the fuck is our train?? This doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s late? There’s another train that’s a couple minutes ahead of ours, leaving for Krakow via Warsaw West… Is that it? A local offers help and he says that’s probably it. It’s here now. You should run. We run.
The train’s there and doors are open. Which wagon are we? Fuck it we jump on and we’ll find it later. Double check the placards next to the door – Krakow with Warsaw Zach. (west) underneath. We ask the guy pushing a tray of coffee around – “Is this the right train???” He looks stressed and says he doesn’t know. I’m inside the train, Murphy’s out, and it’s about to bounce. Fuck it, Murphy jumps on too. We’re pretty sure this is it. Find two random seats for now, good enough.
About fifteen minutes in I notice an electronic sign that says “Next Stop Krakow”. That’s not good. Quick scouting mission to investigate more placards – they all say via Warsaw West… This has to be it.
Fast forward ten more minutes and we aren’t slowing down, and there aren’t any lights around… It was definitely less than 25 minutes to our station. So we’re outside of Warsaw. Well shiiiiiiit. Drinks in the drink car? Might as well, looks like we’re headed back to Krakow. “That place is sucking us in like a Krak-hole”
Moving up the aisle we run into the railway ticket police. May I see your tickets? Sure, but, you see man, the thing about that is … “Oh! You must buy new tickets!” We can’t just upgrade these ones or something? That seems unfair. He seems frustrated by us and sighs and says he’ll find us later and we’ll square it up. Alright, drinks, let’s go.
At the drink car we pound a couple of Tyskies and laugh about our situation. Supposed to leave Krakow last night and botched it, actually left today and botched it again. One more night in that town, which isn’t too bad, really. We do need to think about actually getting to Lithuania though, and Riga after that to meet up with Murphy’s buddy Eugene, so we’re kinda on the clock. A couple more Tyskies and cheap flight searches and we come up with some potential Plan Bs.
Flying to Kaunas and Vilnius both look a bit expensive and involve connections from Krakow… but Air Baltic does have cheap flights from Lviv, Ukraine to Riga, and Lviv is only a few hours from Krakow by train… It’s right there, really… Okay, that’s the new plan. Lviv then fly to Riga. Cheers.
Buuuuut… That does mean we skip Lithuania, which we’re both pretty interested to see. Murphy finds a cheap-ish flight first thing the next morning to Vilnius via Warsaw… Okay, we’ll spend the night in Krakow and do that. Cheers.
I tell MacKay I’ll be right back. My phone’s dying so I need a charger. On the way back to the drinking car I meet ticket guy again. He says that we still need to upgrade our tickets. It will be 550 zloty plus 134 fee for buying on the train. “Well dude, that sucks. It was a simple mistake.” I tell him we left from Krakow this morning and got to Warsaw. We wanted to go north from Warsaw West but the train didn’t stop there. “I see. Do you have cash or card?”, “Card, I only have 100 zloty”, “Ok well maybe we don’t buy another ticket”, “I don’t need a ticket?”, “Ok… this is very illegal but maybe you give me the zloty and you don’t need ticket.” He puts his finger to his lips. “This is very illegal, are you ok with this?”, “Yeah, sure man” and I pull out the zloty. “No not here. We will talk later”, “Ok, we’ll be in the drinking car.”
I get back and tell MacKay that we’re going to bribe the official and save some zloty. “Fucking eh!”
The train is arriving in Krakow and I go to pay for my drinks. The machine runs out of receipt paper. Really?! The doors are opened and I’m waiting. I could have just left. Stupid fucking Canadian niceties. Now I’m rushing against the people coming on the train trying to get off before the doors close. Excuse me pardon me. Fuck sales I don’t think I’ll make it back to my bag before they close. I look through the cars down two trains and MacKay is grabbing my bag. He looks back, gives me the thumbs up and steps off the train. Sweet. I hop off too and meet him down the platform. The doors close and the train explodes behind me. I don’t even look back.
“So were you paying off that guy?”, “Paying for our drinks”, “So we never saw the guy again, huh?”, “Nope. And that’s how you get two people from Warsaw to Krakow for 4 bucks!”, “Fuck it’s good to be back in Krakow.”
It actually is nice to be back. This city has grown on us. I like it more than Warsaw and our new Plan B is way better than taking an overnight bus from there in our soggy clothes and getting dropped off at 3am in Vilnius. Pleasant, familiar streets. We don’t need directions anymore we basically know this place now.
We get back to the One World Hostel and the same super model is working, “Oh, you’re back”, “Yep, we can’t get enough of this place”, “You want another apartment?”, “Yep, that’d be perfect.” It comes out to 26 dollars. Wtf? Krakow is great.
Our new apartment isn’t as baller but who cares, it was cheaper, will suit our needs more than fine and is still right next to the square.
Wow our neighbors are having crazy sex. Can hear the girl panting through the wall. “You hearing this?”, “Atta boy.”
We get to the square and it’s looking good in the rain. I get a couple of the same pics as the other night but with lights reflected off the wet ground.
We fend off a girl asking us to go to a strip club. She’s a stunner and walks with us trying to be as persuasive as possible. “We’re going to grab food. We’ll think about it”, “Ok, I will see you soon.”
We deny a couple more people before dipping into a place. Closed. Hmmm next place, looks fancy. Not serving food any more. Ok. We go zero/six on restaurants until we finally find an American themed restaurant that’s still open. Kind of lame to be in Krakow eating American cuisine but at least they’re still serving. It has Smith and Weston and Jack Daniels decor
We get a Carpaccio to start and then ribs and tenderloin. The carpaccio comes out fast, before the beers. Impressive. Our server comes over after a while all bashfully. “I’m sorry guys. I forgot the beers”, “It’s ok. The carpaccio is good.”
Massive portions yet again. The Polish aren’t messing around. We finish up and head back into the rain of the main square. The same smoking hot blonde is there and comes right over. I think it’s slim pickings in this rain. “You promised me. You have gone to eat and now you will go to red pepper. One beer. Come on. It’s 70% off. Women all over you. Burlesque. You will like”, “We have to catch a flight in less than 6 hours”, “So there’s lots of time. Come on boys, follow me”, “It sounds great we love girls but no I don’t think so”, “I love girls too I am lesbian. I will take you there”, “No really it’s cool”, “You see my friend beside you. He is listening. He wants to go with you too.” I look over and a guy looks back and winks. Haha the gay play, just in case. “We’re good thanks”, “Ok ok, have a good flight.”
Twenty steps later and it’s a brunette saying all the same things. She’s the second hottest girl in Poland. This is nuts. No, no you lady pimps leave us be. There’ll be no lady tips or swindling of McBurger and Diesel on this night.
Back to the apartment and we can still hear the girl moaning next door. K-k-k-Krakow!