Warsaw, day 1: Getting there...
Warsaw Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
I flew to Berlin on Friday 13th July and went to the opening reception of an artist friendâ€™s show at Strychnin Gallery in Friedrichshain. Having been to Berlin a number of times before, I had decided that this time, I would head out East, so to speak, and check out Warsaw.
I had booked a seat on the Berlin-Warsaw Express, so around noon I was waiting at the Berlin Ostbahnhof. The train was running 15 minutes late, which I didn't really mind that much, as I was looking at a 6 hour trip anyway, so what's another 15 minutes, right?
I was not expecting this kind of train though. It had compartments, each with 6 seats, and when I got to mine, I noticed there were 5 people in there already: a Polish girl and a family of XL Germans with half of their earthly posessions.
'Hi,' I said, 'I'm apparently sitting by the window, so could you please move your cooler box from the seat? Thanks.'
With a heavy sigh, dad removed the cooler and put it in front of him, so I had to clamber over it to get to my seat. I checked for a place to put my bag, but the bagage racks on either side were stuffed with their luggage.
'Maybe you could keep it on your lap?' the dad suggested with a smirk on his face.
'What? For 6 hours? I don't think so. Just move your stuff mister. You people arenâ€™t fleeing the country, are you?'
I jammed my bag in between 2 suitcases, put my small backpack between my legs and sat down on one of their daughters' toy frog.
'He killed Froggy!' she screamed, and the whole family, including the Polish chick, looked at me like I was some kind of monster.
'It's a bloody toy!' I said, 'what's wrong with you people?'
'You should look where you sit, yes?' said mum.
Suddenly, being in this train for 6 hours seemed like a very long time, and we hadn't even left the station yet.
I took out my MP3 player and a sandwich and prayed for the train to depart, which it eventually did. The family opened up the cooler and started handing out copious amounts of food, drinks and cell phones (don't ask) and started stuffing their faces. (not the cell phones, although I did spy stupid kid number 2 nibbling on her Nokia.)
Meanwhile, stupid kid number 1 kept shoving the stuffed frog into my face, yelling 'say you're sorry to Froggy!!!' I tried to ignore her for a while, but then said in a menacing voice 'you shove that fucking frog in my face one more time, you little shit, and it's going out the fucking window, capiche?'
Ofcourse I didn't say that, but I sure as Hell wanted to. Instead I said 'Sorry Froggy,' glared at the kid and muttered 'Now piss off.'
Fortunately, and I do thank whatever god is watching over me for this, they left the train at our first stop in Poland. By now however, we had gotten a visit of the German and Polish immigration officers, who took a special interest in my ID and phoned Interpol just to make sure I wasn't on the run after killing off a family of annoying train passengers. This apparently made the Germans rather uncomfortable as they kept glancing at me. In return I gave them icy stares, which clearly said I wouldn't hesitate of putting a gun to Froggy's head if the authorities wouldn't let me into Poland.
It didn't come to that. I got my ID back and we headed on to Warsaw. Once the Germans, their 27 bags and their cooler box had left, the trip became more agreeable.
About 3 hours into the trip, the Polish chick suddenly screamed 'God, it iz so hot in here,' and ripped open her blouse. 'You do not mind, do you?' she panted, looking at me like some kind of predator.
'no,' I squeeked, 'it's quite alright... really...'
And then we hit a bump in the road/track and I woke up way too soon if you ask me.
I didn't mind that we arrived half an hour late, but I was a bit anxious to catch a first glimpse of the city. Now let me tell you something. Someone, somewhere wrote it was very hard to get out of the train station? Well, that person obviously hadn't heard of this new invention called 'stairs'. I was outside before I knew it, blinking in the sunlight, looking up at the Palace of Science and Culture and thinking â€˜Damn, I'm in Warsaw!'
I then thought 'How the Hell am I going to cross this street?!?' as there were about 6 lanes of heavy, insane traffic between myself and my hotel.
Fortunately, there were stairs yet again, and tunnels leading underneath the busy streets, which made it a lot easier to stay alive. So I found my hotel, checked in, dumped my stuff in my room and then headed outside looking for something to eat. Preferably in a restaurant. Preferably something I could pronounce.
I walked up and down Marszalkowska Avenue, but didn't really see anything I liked, as I wanted something small and not too complicated. In the end, I settled for a traditional Polish restaurant chain called Kentucky Fried Chickenski. It was cheap and greasy and I didn't have to impersonate a chicken to get what I want, as I could just point to the menu above the counter and go 'Aye?'.
I explored a few more side streets, but feeling very tired all of a sudden, retired to the hotel bar for a Polish beer... or some, which, I was pleasantly surprised to discover came in 0.5 liter glasses and cost between 8 and 10 zloty. It was about 11:30pm when I tried to figure out how to get into the elevator, checked about every floor for my room and then used several cards, including my Hard Rock Cafe Pin Collectors Club card to open my door. That's when I called it a night.