From Dublin to Krakow: A couple pit stops
June 4th to June 6th
Since I have been traveling for two months, and still have two more to go, I've been trying to be as economical as possible to go from place to place. Originally, I was just going to fly from Dublin to Krakow, and when I went onto the website to book my flight, the price had gone up than when I had previously looked at it. Deciding that there had to be a cheaper way to get to Poland, I looked up numerous flights to different European cities, and then decided to take a train from somewhere. It seemed that Paris was a pretty reasonable flight, and so I saved the last day of my Eurail pass for the trip from Paris to Krakow, and booked a flight from Dublin to Paris. But, as it turns out, I actually ended up costing myself more money than had I just flown from Dublin to Paris in the end. With the cost of paying for an extra train ticket in Germany (as I had decided to not use my Eurail train pass from Stuttgart to Amsterdam and just paid for a full-price ticket instead), and then having the extra travel days, I just cost myself a bit extra. Oh well. In the end, I'm okay with it. The reasons being:
i) Paris! I flew into Beauvais airport, which is actually north of Paris, in the morning, and from there caught a bus into Paris. Once in Paris, I went to the train station I was leaving from to leave my luggage in storage. Being as cheap as possible, I managed to cram all my stuff into the smallest locker. Why spend the extra euro for a bigger one? Then I went out to explore Paris again. The last time we had been there, we had found a used bookstore, so I went in search of that place again so I could load up on more books before going to Ukraine for six weeks. Then, went back to Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees. It was a good, relaxing day. Then that night, I caught a train to Munich.
ii) Munich! I was supposed to arrive in Munich early morning, and then catch another train immediately to Vienna. But, as it turns out, my train from Munich was almost an hour late and I missed the connetion to Vienna. I went to the service centre, and the guy there helped me figure out how to get to Krakow. With his suggestions, I was supposed to leave 2 hours later, and instead of going through Vienna, I would go north to Berlin, and over from there, arriving at Krakow at 4:30 am. Would make for a long day and early morning, but it got me there. But then after, as I was thinking about it, I figured there had to be another way for me to get there without having to leave so soon, so that I could spend the day in Munich. I looked up another schedule, managed to figure out that I could in fact go through Vienna still and leave at 5:30 that afternoon instead, and make it to Krakow for 6:30 am. Even better! So, I once again stored my luggage in the lockers in the train station, cramming it all into the smallest locker possible so it was the cheapest. (I only had about 5 euros left in change by this point as I wasn't supposed to have stopped in any more countries where I would need euros. Instead, I had spent the cash in Paris the day before.) Then, deciding that the best way to see as much as possible and learn about the city as fast as I could, I decided to seek out a free walking tour. I turned on my ipod to find an internet connection so I could look up a tour, and then the battery went dead. Darn. So, instead, the next logical thing was to find a tourist office to find a brochure, but the only tours advertised in the tourist office were ones you had to pay for. Not doing that! Then, next logical thing: find a hostel - they always have information on the cheap/free things! So, off in search of a hostel I went, and found one a while later. A few minutes later, I emerged with a brochure about a free tour. Success! Turns out it met at the train station, so back to the station I went.
I spent the afternoon learning about Munich's history, seeing the sights, and having a beer in the beer gardens. I met a guy from Toronto on the tour who was also traveling alone, so him and I hung out for the duration of the tour, and since I had no more money left after paying for my locker, he bought me a beer when the tour paused at the beer gardens. Gotta love friendly Canadians! It was an interesting tour, and I learned alot about the city, and about Hitler and World War II. I thought it was a really cool city, and would love to go back. Especially to try some more of their local beers, as the one I had was great!
Lesson learned on tour while drinking at the beer garden: History of the beer gardens. Back in the day, the brewhouses would brew lots of beer throughout the year and stockpile it. Eventually, they ran out of room in their facilities, and so, needing a place to keep their beer cool, they dug holes to fit their kegs into along the riverbank. But, this changed the bank of the river a bit and the land heated up and the beer, and the beer didn't stay cool enough. So they planted trees to create shade to keep the land cooler. (I forget which kind of trees - oak trees maybe?) Then, having all this new shade along the river, people started going down to the riverbanks for the day to lounge in the shade and along the water. The beer companies, realizing that all their customers were at the river, and their beer was at the river, decided to start selling their beer at the river! And that is how beer gardens came to be. Also, you can tell if its an authentic beer garden or not, dependent on the type of tree that you can find there! Interesting tidbit of information, or so I thought!
Once the tour was complete, I headed back to the train station, said goodbye to my new Torontonian friend, and found my next train to Vienna!
iii) Austrian countryside. Another reason trains are awesome - you can actually see and enjoy the landscape, as opposed to when you fly. Definitely worth taking the train in this case. It was beautiful, taking the train through Austria, seeing the mountains in the distance!
So, after taking a train from Paris to Munich, then on to Vienna where I hopped on another train to Katowice in Poland, then from Katowice another train to Krakow, I arrived at Krakow at 6:50 am, where Jakub, my friend from our Icelandic exchange, was waiting for me! Poland at last!