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Eastward to Poland I go!

(Sorry for the delay, getting a bit backlogged lol)

Hey everybody, it’s me again.  Another long day on the train, so plenty of time to type up a good entry!  Let’s see, where did I leave off?  Oh yea, Berlin.  Saturday was my last day there, which I spent lazily touring parts of western Berlin, which I’ll agree with my guides, it wasn’t as nice as East Berlin, which has been injected with money and houses more of the classical buildings in the city.  However, I did cover a few things:

·         Went to the Saturday market close to the tiergarten and browsed all the stalls.  Not much to purchase that fit my tastes, but if you need an old rusty door handle, they had thousands of them!  Not quite sure why they’re so valuable but oh well…
·         Walked through the tiergarten, finding a place to stop and people watch while I ate my picnic lunch I bought that morning.  It was very peaceful (minus the huge tour boats going up and down the waterway lol)
·         Headed over the zoo area, where Gray had pointed out a church that was bombed during the war.  It was quite a site; there’s not much of it left standing, but what’s left has become a historical landmark.
·         Back to the tiergarten to trek over the Potsdamer Platz.  I was surprised by the number of nude sunbathers scattered about (at which point I stopped taking pictures lol), but then I remembered, it’s Europe!  Why did I stop taking pictures?  Well, the majority of those out in all there were glory were old men.  Not my type lol.
·         Potsdamer Platz was very built up, the new commercial center of Berlin.  I was happy to find a protest that included porta-poddies (since free toilets are hard to come by in Europe).  I decided that it was a good time to stop and wait to hear from Anthony, who took the alternative tour, so I found a Starbucks.  I know, not very classy for Europe, but it’s the only place where I can rely on the Internet.
·         Sorted out all my travel for Sunday while sipping my chai tea.  Anthony and I decided through texts (man, I haven’t had a text in a long time!) that we’d meet in Kreuzberg, the alternative area, after his tour at 16:30 to explore.
·         I decided I had enough time to head over to the Hauptbahnhof and grab my seat reservation and validate my pass for Poland.  After stealing the Internet from Starbucks and arguing with the lady at the DB counter, it turns out my seat reservation from the UK booking center for DB didn’t exist.  I was pretty pissed, but these things happen, I’ll just get it refunded.  I bought a new reservation and then jumped on the U-Bahn to Kreuzberg, since I still hadn’t heard from Anthony.
·         Explored Kreuzberg on my own for an hour or so.  I chilled out in a park waiting for Anthony, but no call ever came, so by 18:15 I decided to head back to the hostel for Zambian food.
·         Had a great time with the crew at the hostel eating Zambian, which you eat with your hands.  What a mess, but so fun!  Unfortunately, Anthony called me just then because his phone died.  He was getting on a train to Prague early, so we just called the thing off for the night.
·         Went out with four French guys and the girl from Denmark.  What a time, especially with the language difference.  We grabbed a few fruity drinks at a happy hour for €4,90 which is awesome!  That, and their happy hour lasted from 16:00 until 05:00, quite the happy half-day :-)  I just picked the weirdest sounding drink on the menu and ended up with a “Green Monkey”, which was almost like a milkshake. 
·         The French guys all seemed pretty exhausted, plus I had a train in the morning, so we all went home and passed out.

Sunday was another travel day, with a 10 (yes 10) hour train ride from Berlin to Krakow.  It was fun to be on a non high-speed train.  I met a great Australian couple who was traveling, and we chatted for a while.  By now I’ve learned that I should call New Zealanders “kiwis” while in their company.  On the train, I met Claire, another Aussie girl who was really awesome.  We both chatted and discussed our travel plans while lounging out on the seats.

Yea, definitely no need for a reservation (AGAIN), the train was empty most of the time.  I’m now traveling PKP, the Polish trains, and it’s been fun listening (and trying to use some Polish myself).  I actually feel a little bit more like I’m at home, not because I can actually understand most Polish, but because I’m so used to being surrounded by it when I go home.   From what I’ve seen on the train, Poland is much more rural than Germany, and the stations and trains are older.  Actually, the farmland and everything reminds me a lot of Michigan.

This will also be the first nation where the exchange rate is in my favor.  Time to live it up and buy lots of gifts :-P  I’m looking forward to a few easy going days in Krakow, with some exciting nights (apparently our hostel has vodka tastings, awesome)

I’m also trying to think of where I want to go on the 16th, since I haven’t booked a place lol, and maybe I’ll even get bored sooner than that.  It’s meant to be my “vacation away from vacation”.  I wanted to visit my dad and grandma’s old village or where our friends from Poland came from, but that all seems far north, and the trains aren’t that fast.  Any ideas?  I’m open to all suggestions.

Alright folks, more on Sunday and the rest of the week in Poland next time.

Dobranoc!

-StM

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