Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Train Journey from Hell
I've decided to give this story its own post, as it is very well deserved. It was a ridiculous day to say the least, traveling from Berlin to Krakow, Poland, with many interesting happenings....
So, we left Berlin and we had to catch a train to Frankfurt Oder, which was on the border, from there we had to switch trains and travel to Wroclaw(referred to as Assclaw in my story), and then on to Krakow. Easy enough? You'd think so, wouldn't you?
As I said, we were on the train and we were all catching a little shut eye, when we heard the announcement for "Frankfurt Oder." So, still groggy from our sleep, we all jumped up, grabbed our packs and scrambled out of the doors, just in time. However, once outside we noticed that we were on a lone platform in the middle of nowhere. To make matters worse, as the doors were sliding shut a young guy yelled to us " You guuuuysss, this is not Frankfurt Oder!" With that, the train sped away, and we were left dumbfounded. We made our way up to the road and tried to get a taxi, however, luckily after some time we were able to get on a public transit bus and eventually make it to the train station. Looking back, it was a pain in the ass, but that jerk on the train who yelled out too late serves as a good laugh.
Once at the train station we were actually able to catch a train to our next destination, which even though we were behind schedule, we would be able to catch up to all the trains we had planned to take....or so we thought.
As mentioned, Train #2 from Frankfurt Oder station to Wroclaw/Assclaw, went without a hitch, however, once we arrived in Assclaw, things went downhill quickly. Once we got off the train and entered the main lobby of the station it felt like we went back in time. Seriously. I felt like I was in the midst of the cold war. It was so old, cold, dark and dingy, with lots of suspicious characters hanging around. It was also past 10pm at night, haha. So, we checked the timetable, and lo and behold, we were literally about 5 -1o minutes late and our train had departed. Not knowing what to do, we saw our first real bit of controversy, and who could blame us after what had already happened that day. Anyways, thanks to Brent's awesome Polish, we found out that there was a train at sometime between 2 and 3 am, so we were going to have to tough it out.
So, what to do to kill time? Drink VERY large steins of beer. Yes, that we did. We sat outside of the train station, drank and ate at a pub on a nice leather couch, and people watched. Now, here we got to see the real colours of Assclaw. As we were drinking, a guy and girl were having a smoke just outside of the pub. As they were doing this, a drunken, shady character walks up to them. I can't remember if he grabbed her butt, nonetheless he did something stupid, and next thing you know they're all getting into it. She ended up kicking him in the butt, and the last thing we saw of him was the boyfriend taking the guy towards the doors of the train station and throwing him....needless to say we didn't see the drunk again, and I have no idea what happened to him.
Once that happened, we promptly finished our last drinks and got the hell out of there. Luckily, it was almost time for the train. So, as we went to board the train, we were flabbergasted. If the train station was Cold War era, than the train was definitely straight out of WWII. As our Eurorail tickets didn't work, we had to buy tickets, and this was the nail in the coffin. Upon boarding we looked for an empty spot, but there were none to be had. I mean NOTHING!! Every cabin was full to the max, people were sitting in the hallways, and we were left, again, dumbfounded! So, what did we do? We literally sat on our backpacks in front of the bathrooms. Brent and Nat sat in front of one, and I sat in front of the "1st class" car's WC. Literally, we were on each side of the connector. There was NO heat, so we all had to wear as much clothing as possible, because the temperature was easily floating around 0 C. On top of that, the dick conductor kept coming and waking us up, talking in Polish, then walking off laughing. The guys also had an interesting encounter, as half way through the journey, a Polish Army officer left the bathroom, where one can only assume he passed out, because he reeked of booze.
As the sun came up, we were all dead tired and huddled around the lone heater we found. Sleep deprived and low on morale we entered Krakow. Thank God that city made it all worth while, but that's for the next chapter.