Krakow Day 1

Krakow Travel Blog

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Krakow, Poland: 4/18-20/09

            Another early morning train ride for us; so another taxi ride to the station. My friend from Lviv is also catching a train this morning so he was going to meet up with us to help us get our tickets and make sure we are set up alright. We did not see him so we walked up to the ticket office and made the attempt to purchase our tickets. After finding out how much they cost it was off to the ATM. Being it very early in the morning Colin forgot to take his card out of the machine so it sucked it back in. I pulled out some money and got us the tickets to Poland. Turns out we are in a sleeping car on the train, even though we are on this train for just a few hours we were still given sheets and blankets. Looking around I noticed only a few others in the train car. Colin and I both looked at each other and thought this would be hell on rails sleeping in here, they really could pack them in if they so wanted to.

            The ride to the border was uneventful but once at the border the fun began. First the big burley guards in full tactical gear walked up and down the train checking everyone out, then came in the guards with the dogs, then came in the passport control guards. Two ladies from Ghana were on the train and there was some problem with their passports or visas. They spoke very good English but none of the Ukrainian guards spoke that good of English; the ladies were pulled off the train. They were eventually let back on the train, but the delay would cause us to miss our connecting train over the border to Krakow. Colin finally got a Ukrainian stamp in his passport.

            Once over the border we had to take our bags and once again go through customs and put the bags through an x-ray machine. The tobacco taxes and laws are very different between Ukraine and Poland so there is a very large smuggling ring. No problems getting through customs; good thing they did not see our large thing of Nutella or else they may have confiscated it like the guys at the Bucharest airport did with our previous jar that was unopened. The ride into Krakow was very nice. I could not believe how green and flat Poland is.

            In Krakow we are staying just a few minute walk outside of the main square in a nice quiet hostel. We got to the building the hostel is located in and no one was there to let us in, so we sat outside for awhile until a person walked out the door. We then found ourselves standing outside of the door to the hostel waiting to be let in there. Finally a person walked out and we were now in the hostel, but still there was no one there to check us in. We hung out in the hostel common room reading and using the hostels computer. A few people started walking in and out of the room; I turned to Colin and asked if he had his AARP card handy so we could check in here. Every person here is well over 60 years old! I was looking for a quiet hostel but I was not expecting this quiet. After hanging out for a few hours I started snooping around the desk and found which room we were in and found the keys to the room. I let us into the room where we ditched our bags then headed out to see the main square and walk around the city. As we were walking around the square I looked up and there was our friend Angelica from Norway. She is meeting up with us in Krakow and is planning on traveling with us for the rest of the trip. It was quite amazing that we happened to see one another in the main square on the first night we got there. The four of us went out to dinner and walked around the rest of the night catching up and chatting the night away. As we walked through the main square there were a few people playing some drums so we headed over to see what was going on. The drums started to get louder and soon a few people were lighting a stick on fire and then began spinning it around and tossing it into the air. The beat of the drum got faster as the fire starters began to twirl their fire sticks faster and toss them higher and higher. There was now a large crowd gathered around watching this group of drum & fire players. Soon a drunk guy was stumbling out into the middle of all this, I was waiting to see him go up in flames. He looked like his blood alcohol level was probably high enough that he would have been turned into a human torch if the flames would have got close enough to him. It was quite the show; I am usually not much for paying street performers but this group was well worth tipping.

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photo by: EmyG