One Last Hurrah in Poland before Praha

A few days and a million random happenings later, it's time to write up another post, so here we go!  Where did we leave off? Wednesday!? Oh damn, well then we have a lot to catch up on, don't we?  Let's just do a few days then...

I feel like giving most of Wednesday the bulleted list treatment:

  • Grabbed some souvenirs and then headed over to a milk bar to order a super cheap, authentic Polish meal.  They're a throwback to the Communist days when the government subsidized these meal halls that served this really weird sounding soup/milk/butter fixture for less than a few cents.  It was really good and filling and it only cost around $3!  I made the mistake of ordering two things off the menu (they were so cheap, I figured they must be small right?).  Ooops...I had to send one back :-)
  • Walked back and took a bike tour with Slavek, Kayla, and Alexa around Krakow.  Saw a few cool sites and almost fell in the river :-) because the bike path was out.  
  • When we got back, the girls and I went looking for this Polish ice cream everyone was so crazy about. So what it it was around 15 degrees and rainy outside?  I took us forever to find, we kept wandering up and down the same two blocks lol.  In the end, Spiderman came to the rescue!  Well, it was a guy in red/blue spandex biking gear and a white/red helmet.  He looked more the part than I do with my gear :-) AND he had an ice cream cone, so we asked him for info.  The ice cream was really good; I liked how the cone was shaped like a cup so you at the whole thing haha.
  • I split and went to the mall real quick before the pierogi tasting at 20:00.  I'll admit, it was nothing special and I didn't really see anything unique, it's just like being in America.  I just left and went back to Skype my grandma before dinner.
  • The tastings were really good, especially since I was still full from lunch :-)  I even bought the English guys a round a cherry vodka since it was my last night.

Then the whole evening got a lot more interesting.  I've definitely chilled out a lot since the start of this trip, because next thing I know I was convincing the English guys and Australian girls to go out.  Who cares about my train!  I'll just sleep on it lol.  I found out when I had to get up, then cleaned up and we headed off to Kazimierz.  We ended up at a pub the English guys called "the cave" where they bought me one of the signature Polish beers mixed with raspberry something-or-other.  It was pretty good, although very sweet, so it tasted more like drinking some sorta cider than beer, but I was okay with that.  Oh and no, I didn't drink it through a straw as many Polish people (especially girls) do with beer ;-)

Next up was Kitsch, one of the clubs in the 3-story Łubu-Dubu club in-between the Jewish district and the main square.  Half out of it, we flagged a bunch of cabs and headed over there.  Now THIS was a club.  Lots of techno, plus a bunch of old time songs (many of which I love but they never play in the States).  It was absolutely packed, and we had a good time dancing.  I even did a stint or two on the stripper pole after getting egged on by Alexa, thanks! :-P  Sorry, no photos, I didn't feel like getting my camera stolen in a club lol.

The only downside was that I felt weird being the older one of the group.  Everyone else is in university; it just made me feel a little weird that everybody was like 5 years younger than me.  But hey, whatever, I just wanna dance lol!

Around 3 a.m. we rolled out of there (we kinda ditched the English guys lol) and headed back to the hostel, where I promptly passed out, ready to get up at 7!  Woo!  The English guys also had a flight, so they had to get up too lol.  All part of the adventure, right?

Thursday rolled around and I dragged myself outta bed at 07:30  (I decided I could wait a little before leaving for the train).  Turned out to be fine, I was WAY early, although I was a little nervous because this was the first trip I'd be making without any reservations.  When I got to the station, I totally realized I forgot to write down directions to the hostel.  Man, I always do that!  I ran into the mall up to the food court and stole McDonalds' WiFi (yea, I know, very Polish kinda place lol).  

Okay Poland, so I love you and all, but your trains suck lol.  No wonder a guy laughed at me when I wanted to take three trains up to my dad's village; no way would I ever get there!  Definitely no German efficiency there.  My first connecting train to Katowice was 10 minutes late leaving and stopped randomly every 5 minutes, including once for about a half hour to let a train pass.  What is this, Amtrak?  Well, turned out they're redoing their tracks, so there's only one open, so I understand, but still.  Also, it made for a good conversation starter :-).  I met a nice Canadian couple also trying to make the Prague train.  

When we finally got it in, I rushed with them off the platform, found the yellow departure signs, then ran up to Platform 2 with about 2 minutes to spare.  Then they came on in Polish and after a moment (and a flood of running backpackers) I realized we needed to run back to Platform 1 where we came from because they moved the train.  We all jumped on AS the train started moving.  Whew!  I can see why you procrastinators love this kinda stuff, it was quite a rush!  I ended up in a compartment with a traveling band from New York who plays modern chamber music?  Got me, I have their CD, we'll see what it's like lol.

This train was NICE, especially after the hard plastic seats in the PKP train, which were not for sleeping lol.  This one had 6 seats in enclosed compartments which could fold down.  Shoot, we thought we all ended up in 1st class haha!  And the dining car, so cool, right out of a movie.  I went down with one of the band people and ate a small lunch.  It was very peaceful watching the world go by.  I even ran into the Canadians!

I don't know, but I always feel obligated to walk around the train and try and meet people.  I mean, I kinda rushed onto the train, so I didn't really have time to scope it all out, and once I'm in a seat, especially unreserved with a bunch of people on a train, I feel like staying put.  Even so, I walked around, and looked to see if there were any lonely backpackers.  Nope, everybody was either talking or sleeping, so I went back to read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and sleep off and on.

Prague at first site is, like everyone says.  All the beautifully colored buildings, church towers, and spires make it so picturesque.  Sadly, Poland appears to have a long way to go from the repression of the Cold War and WWII.  Things in CZ in general (from the train at least) looked in much better shape.  Hopefully Poland pulls out of it eventually, but Prague and the Czech Republic are definitely on their way.

The usual confusion ensued: Where's an ATM?  Where can I break a 2000 Kč note? (yea, I felt weird taking out 3000 from an ATM, but it was only $150, so I had to go back later lol) Where's the tram? How do I pay?  Well, thank you stupid tram ticket machines, you've already messed with me a few times.  I should just take Rob's advice and not bother since nobody seems to check.  Well, they are good for one thing, meeting awesome people like Jillian!

I met Jillian at the tram station trying to figure out the ticket machine.  Together, we were able to decipher it.  It's then that I noticed she had a list of directions too and that she was going to HostelOne!  So, we headed over together to check in.  Not only that, but she's also from Holland (Michigan), lives in Chicago, blogs about her travels and she was just in Krakow and Berlin before that!  Stalker :-P  

We grabbed a few beers (well I got second one anyways without asking lol) and shared travel and Midwest stories over some Czech food.  There's another thing that took me a long time to find out, what is Czech food? Turns out to be like Polish food in a way, lots of meat, goulash, and dumplings.  Fine by me!  I actually grabbed stake tartar, which is a raw meat mixture that you spread on toast.  So good!

Jillian was traveling for several months and then heading to Australia.  She lived in Chicago and worked as a dental hygienist before quitting and taking off to see a world.  It's amazing to me to meet so many people that are traveling to far away places for months or YEARS (for Aussies lol) when people thought I was crazy to go for a month.  Different type of culture outside the US I guess.  

Afterwords, we shared fb info and decided to try and meet up.  Sadly, it's been two days and we keep missing each other :-(  It's tough when you don't have phones and you're traveling all over a city in a day.  Hopefully soon though.

The rest of my evening was spent reading, taking a shower, and passing out.  When you've traveled all day and are running on 3 hours of sleep, it's time to take a break lol.  Oh, and the hostel is really nice.  My room even has it's own kitchenette and a loft.  All the people are very friendly and have great advice.  Thank you Hostel World!

So next up, Prague stories, and there are so many!  Stay tuned, Part II is coming at you soon!


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