4 November 2009

London to Krakow [Day One]

We have arrived! Its crazy but every time we attempt to fly anywhere it takes a whole day. Even if the flight is only two hours. Today we should have arrived with plenty of time to spare, but instead we arrive at our hotel at 8:30pm at night. Anyway, start at the beginning...

Our day began at about 7am. I was thankful we didn't have one of these crazily early flights so could at least get a decent sleep. Out the door at about 7:30, on the train and had arrived in Victoria to catch our bus by 8. The bus was great. Nice and smooth and fairly quick - took us just over an hour to get up to Luton Airport. We checked in without any problems, then sat to wait for our flight. Then we saw the dreaded word pop up on screen... delayed. Only by an hour and a quarter, but any delay is a pain. The flight was originally due to arrive at 3:00pm - plenty of time to find our hotel and go for a bit of a nosey. We arrived at about 4:30pm and it was pitch black.

Having done some research and found that we could catch the train into the city - I asked the friendly information desk guy where to go. He was less than helpful, giving us the wrong directions and as little information as possible. Eventually we found our way to the 'station'. You couldn't call it a station though, it was more of a platform, randomly plonked down a dead-end street with no street lights. There were only three or four people waiting there, so things were looking a bit dodge. Add to this that there were no signs (not even in Polish) saying where the train was going, where to buy tickets... nothing! We waited about 30 minutes until a bus came and a dude came out speaking Polish. Everyone started piling on the bus. We were a little wary, not wanting to end up in the middle of nowhere, so I tried to ask where it was heading. Communication was a major problem, but I managed to understand 'central'. We took a risk and jumped on.

The bus wound around some dodgy looking backroads, and finally drove into what looked like an abandoned carpark. At this stage we were worried for our possessions, or worst case, our kidneys. Thankfully there was a train waiting at the end of the 'carpark', heading to the central station.

So after our marathon journey so far - we still had a way to go. First on our list was to get tickets for our onward journey to Budapest (via overnight train on Friday). I really wanted to make sure that we didn't miss out on tickets so wanted to buy them as soon as. After almost giving up we finally found the correct desk. A private sleeper was going to cost us about £200! But a 6 bed shared sleeper was £70. I had done quite a bit of research into the safety of the overnight trains and it all looked good, so we thought stuff it, its all about experiencing new things right? Plus the guy advised us that it was likely the train would not be full, so we might have the carriage to ourselves. Fingers crossed.

Being about 7pm by this stage we were starving. We headed into a mall to get some dinner and pick up a few things from the supermarket. Keeping in mind that we have not yet been to our hotel so I am still lugging around our huge back-pack! The first thing I noticed is - DAM this place is cheap. Dinner cost us all of about £4, and groceries about £5.

After gathering some energy - we headed to our hotel for the night. Fortunately it is a short walk from the central station. When we arrived we were blown away by how flash it was. I wasn't sure what to expect - after booking online for £25/night. But this place is definitely nice. And we even have a nice view of... something that looks cool (see pic) - I am sure we will find out what it is over the next couple of days. We will definitely make the most of this hotel as I'm sure we will be staying in some not-so-nice places in the next couple of weeks.

We are now settling in for an early night. Our plan for tomorrow is to visit Auschwitz - the Nazi concentration camps. I have been told its very grim, but unmissable. Friday we plan to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and possibly doing a bike tour in the afternoon. Will keep you all updated :)

Next Post - 'Auschwitz'


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