So I boarded my night train from Berlin to Poland. The train was heading into Russia and I needed to get off somewhere along the way and change to a train heading for Krakow. None of the staff on this train spoke English and had great difficulty understanding how a Eurail Pass worked. Or why I needed a separate ticket once I reached the Polish boarder as my pass isn't valid there (Bloody Poland). It was finally sorted and we left. Although I still wasn't convinced they understood what I was doing.
The train was pretty cool, the bed was comfortable and there was free tea, coffee and sandwiches in the cabin. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep though as I didn't really trust that the conductor was sure where I needed to get off and didn't think I'd be woken in time.I really didn't want to miss my connection as the next stop was in the Ukraine.
I still don't even know where I got off the train; I just knew what time I needed to get off, it was a few minutes past 02:00. The station was tiny, I was the only one there and it was freezing. Then is started to rain. I was hoping like hell I had gotten off at the right place. The train was a little late but it did arrive. I was shown to my bed. Then, once I unpacked was asked to move. It was a bit of a pain but not worth whining about. (I did lose my good black coat in the move though… f***)
I was expecting to arrive to terrible weather in Krakow as a state of emergency had been declared due to flooding in the south. But the weather was great. I checked into my hostel and immediately went to do some washing. I was directed to a Laundromat which was also a café/bar. What an awesome idea. I sat, read my book and had a few beers whilst all the washing, drying and folding was done for me. Although they lost one of my socks. b******s!
Later that day I met a few of the other travelers in the common room; 2 Australians named Chris, 2 Canadians; Alex and Lisa, and Marta, who was from Katowice (a couple of hours from Krakow). We had a couple of beers, this later turned into drinking games in the kitchen. It was a lot of fun, but turned into quite a mess. I passed out on my bed some hours later.
The next morning we went for breakfast beers in the town square before attending a walking tour. I hadn't done a walking tour this year so I figured it was about time. It was a good one too, with a very entertaining host. Krakow is a beautiful city. It reminded me a little of Brasov, Romania only a bit more tidy. We toured the city center, Wawel Hill and its Castle. This was about all I saw of Krakow, even though I stayed 5 nights. You'll understand why soon enough.
We ended up having some more drinks in the common room that afternoon and attended happy hour at the cocktail bar downstairs; called Cosmopolitan. 3 hours of 2 for 1 drinks. 6 people, 18 Mojitos and 20 White Russians.
We went out later that night with a few more recruits and went to a Vodka bar and a club called Carpe Diem; a club that played everything from Rammstein to Folk music and was full of old motorbike to sit on. It was pretty cool and I have no idea what time we returned home.
The following morning we a few of us went into the main square to have some breakfast Mojitos, haha. Then to a vegetarian restaurant; I felt this was necessary, as I wanted to try and undo some of the damage I have done to my body after Wacken and the previous couple of nights in Krakow. It was delicious, and we ended up back at the Cosmopolitan not too long after. Marta and Lisa (who were travelling together) left that afternoon as Lisa need to make her way home. Sad times. Although the hostel received a phone call later that night telling us not to go anywhere as they were coming back for one more night of partying, haha. They left once again very early the next morning.
The next day was a pretty quiet one. Once again eating at the vegetarian place and watching some military ceremony that was taking place across the road. Alex (who had been working at the hostel) and I once again went back to the Cosmopolitan, before going to get pizza and returning there to spend the rest of the night with some other people who were also staying at the hostel. This is when we discovered 'Adios Mutherf***ers'; an incredibly potent cocktail containing about 6 different spirits.
I had really wanted to visit Auschwitz while I was staying Krakow but had been too hung-over to do so the previous mornings. But I managed to get my act together and finally got there. Although, once again, I had a hangover. I met 2 other Australians at the main bus station in Krakow and we ended up travelling there together.
Auschwitz was a really confronting place to visit. A lot of people in my tour group cried most of the way through. Especially when walking through the rooms filled with suitcases, prosthetic limbs, clothing and shoes and worst of all the room filled with babies clothing and shoes. The rooms that got to me the most were a room entirely filled with human hair that was shaved from the heads of prisoners once they were gassed. They estimate at least 40,000 women were gassed for this amount. It was later sold to make materials for clothing and blankets. Also, walking through the room filled with labeled suitcases, which were filled with personal belongings that people though they'd be getting back. But these were confiscated once they stepped from the train.I thought I knew a fair bit about the holocaust but left that place more confused than ever. We read a book at school called 'Night' by Elie Wiesel; it was the only book on the curriculum (from any year) that ever interested me. He was a survivor of the camps and tells the story about him and his family. So I purchased it form the inappropriately titled 'souvenir shop' as I thought I could understand a lilt e more having visited the place. I finished reading this yesterday on a train whilst travelling through Slovakia and it was even more horrible to read having been there. I highly recommend this book.
Everyone I had been hanging out with over the last few day had left Krakow by the time I had returned from Auschwitz and the new people who had checked in weren't much fun. I was sitting in the common room having a beer and I started chatting to Marta on over the net. We were both bored and I joking said "just some back to Krakow and drink with me, haha".
2 hours later we were drinking together at the Cosmopolitan. We didn't get to sleep until 7am the following morning.
Andy (who I'd met in Hamburg and attended the Wacken Open Air with) had messaged me saying that he was in a camper van with a bunch of his friends from Finland and Estonia. They were travelling through Poland on their way down to the Summerbreeze Festival in Germany, which I was also attending. They offered to pick me up on the way through and to join in on their road trip. So after Marta had made her way home I packed my bags and went to wait outside the main train station for the van to arrive. What a fantastic time for a massive thunderstorm to pass over Krakow.
…This is when I realized that I no longer had a rain coat.