Tuesday, May 27th and Wednesday, May 28th ~ Krakow, Poland
Many of the major cities now offer FREE walking tours and Krakow was no exception. They had several to choose from and we decided to try a slightly different avenue – Street Art.
The meeting point was in Market Square right in front of St. Mary’s Basilica. The Street Art tour is only offered three times a week at 10:30 in the morning. They do not charge a cent, but gratuities are appreciated and from the tours we have taken, much deserved.
Within a few minutes, we moved away from the main square and headed by local street car toward the Jewish Ghetto area. Our guide offered up an explanation of Street Art vs. Graffiti. I’m still a little vague on some of the finer points.
Here are a few of my favorites from our 2 hour walk:
It was finally time for us to leave Poland and head to Prague. So many people have told us that Prague is one of their very favorite cities. We were looking forward to finding out for ourselves what was so special.
But first we had to get there…
Flying of course was an option, but we wanted to try the rail system. Never having taken a night train, or traveled from one country to another via train, we decided to give it a try. There were a couple of different routes, but we wanted a night train that would not require a change of trains, especially in the wee hours of the morning.
Several days prior to when we wanted to travel, our hotel recommended an office around the corner (Fly Away) to book a seat for us.
We set off with high hopes, but also a tad bit apprehensive, since we really did not know the ins and outs of train travel. On several occasions we have found that people in the Polish service industry could use a refresher on customer service. Waiters got impatient if you ask questions, clerks in the travel information booth were abrupt, several people when asked if they spoke English rudely brushed us off with a curt no.
Finding the office was easy. Getting an agent to help us proved to be a little more difficult. Finally we were directed to a lady at the end of the room. I smiled and asked if she could please help us book a night train from Krakow to Prague. I explained that we would like a first class ticket in a sleeper car with no change and the date we wished to travel.
She informed us there were no 2 person sleepers available, but that there was a four person sleeper, couchette, on a non-stop train that would leave at 9:59 pm on the 28th and arrive in Prague at 7:30 the next morning. Not excited about sharing a sleeping compartment with two strangers, we hesitantly decided to go ahead and book it.
By the next day Tim had done more research on the train, spoken to several people and found out that Polish trains were not quite up to the standards of Eurorail and that precautions needed to be taken. We were advised to ONLY travel 1st class, as 2nd class could be dangerous.
So back we went to Fly Away (reluctantly) to make sure our ticket was for 1st class. They did not want to deal with Tim or answer his questions. Finally he had enough and got irritated (a rarity for him) and they spoke to him.
The ticket was not first class as we had requested…
By now Tim was worried. He had heard several horror stories of robberies, and worse. We contemplated just not using the ticket and flying instead. One last trip back to Fly Away to see if we could get the ticket refunded. I accompanied Tim this time. The woman could see I was visibly upset and worried about our safety.
She calmed us down, and reassured us that the compartment could be locked, and that we should be OK. She actually showed some compassion. She also said that the train was lightly booked.
I wasn’t sure if that was because everyone else knew better?
So, long story, but we took a taxi to the train station, found the correct platform, car and berth. Right after boarding the conductor came to collect our tickets, and demonstrated how to lock the door, also repeated several times to keep the door locked. We were so pleased to learn that we would have the compartment all to ourselves.
The travel God’s were shining on us once again!
We were each given a pillow, a clean pillow case and two sheets for our bed. By putting our luggage on the floor, we both had enough room to stretch out. It was 6 foot in length, so a little short for Tim to get fully extended, but we both managed to get some sleep, and YES, arrived safe and sound in Prague the next morning.
I quite liked the train trip and am now looking forward to more in the future!
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for safe travels, a cautious husband that is always looking out for us, but is also willing to give new things a try.