Oh my God…I almost missed the train again!!!! So not my fault this time!!! I am still puffing from the exhaustion of trying to run, lift and drag my suitcase up a flight of train steps and along the platform two seconds before the train conductor signaled that the train was leaving the platform. Actually, he helped me shove my luggage onto the train whilst yelling something to me in Polish.
Rewind – I got to the train station in Krakow with 45 minutes to spare this morning (train left at 9.30am to head to Prague). I asked the ticket lady which platform and she said 4. As I am walking to the platform I hear my name being called out. So exciting!!! To be recognized in Poland!!! Yes, a ‘sliding doors’ moment. It was my old mate Canadian Bob from the Salt Mine Tour. He was catching a train from the same platform (leaving 5 minutes earlier than mine). So off we walked together and stood at the platform chatting until he left.
Then a few people around me who were catching the same train started getting a little concerned as it had just ticked over to 9.29am and still no train. Then we look over at the next platform and one guy calls out, “that’s our train. They’ve changed the platform. And it’s about to leave”. And off we all run!!! Not an easy feat when you are dragging a 24kg (yes it grew again!) suitcase and carrying an 8kg daypack on your back!! Down two flights of steps, along the underground walkway and up two flights of steps, then along the platform to the waiting conductor (with a whistle in his mouth about to signal it was leaving).
As soon as I stepped onto the train the doors closed and off we went. My heart was pounding!!! Gosh, I won’t miss these “Amazing Race” style adventures of mine (as one of my friends called it the last time I almost missed the plane)!!
Oopps, don’t you hate it when you are eating something while typing on the laptop and you drop crumbs down into the keyboard. Bugger!! I just polished off this delightful little twisty bread thing that I bought at the train station (a Polish treat I discovered in my 4 days there) and the crumbs just found a way to wedge themselves in between the keys. I’m on the train typing this.
Now, where was I? Okay, how quick did those 4 nights at Krakow go!!! You are so not going to believe what movie was on last night in my lovely Hotel Room (in English)!!! EAT, PRAY, LOVE!!!!!!! Is that a sign???? It was amazing to watch it again and actually be able to relate to so much of it personally. Especially when Julia Roberts was pigging out on that huge pizza! Been there, done that…many times over J. And of course the other more deep and meaningful stuff…….. But, I’m left asking the same question over and over again – WHERE IS MY DONATELLO????????
I was amused when I watched the part where Julia Roberts stayed at ashram in India to meditate and ‘find herself’. When I was in Italy, I looked at the possibility of staying at a Monastery for a few days thinking it could offer the same thing. Well, after visiting the Monastery in Montenegro, I was thinking how fortunate I was that I didn’t pursue it. That particular one had only smelly drop toilets!!!!!!! I am sure the only thing I would have meditated about for three days would have been ‘strong bladder control’ so I didn’t have to use them!!!!!!!!
On a more serious note, when I was in Krakow I did a day trip out to the Auschwitz & Birkenau concentration camps from World War II. A very moving reminder of the atrocities of war. It seemed impossible that it could have happened. As part of the tour we were shown displays of clothing, personal items (suitcases, brushes, spectacles, shoes etc) and even women’s hair that were taken from the Polish Jews and others who were sent to the camp. Over one million people lost their lives there. Unbelievable, but true.
I also did a tour of the Wielickza underground salt mine. The best part of that tour was meeting Bob. You just never know when you might need a Canadian lawyer??? The rest of the time I wandered around the Main Market Square, churches, monuments and surrounding streets taking photos (and visited that lovely shopping centre). And of course, (as I said in the last email which I know you religiously read) I climbed the bell tower. In some of the towers, there is a guy who plays the bugle out of the bell tower windows every hour. This was the first time that I had actually been in a bell tower at the very time that the bugle player did his thing!! Was great!! He lent out of the window and played his little tune, then gave the crowd below a royal wave. Was sooooo cute!!
And now about Budapest!! I absolutely loved Budapest. I think it comes a very close second to Prague as the place to ensure that you visit!!! It caters for all. The photography, sights, architecture, history, shopping…it has it all!! I could have stayed for a week and wished I actually did. Four nights wasn’t long enough to see everything.
I did a city tour which helped orientate me (still have that great sense of direction happening??). Just ask Ros….who continually had to remind me which way I should have been going!! And that was also in the Hotel!! When you are travelling alone and opt to do a city tour, you always secretly hope that you meet someone nice on the tour. Well, my city tour ended up being a personalized trip for two!! The only problem was the only other person on the tour was a very odd little American man with a comb over. He tried to crack jokes the whole way by talking American slang to the guide, which didn’t go down very well, as the stern Hungarian guide just kept getting frustrated saying, “I don’t understand what you mean”. Neither did I, as a little voice in my head kept repeating “Would you just shut up!!!” I really enjoyed my own company for the rest of the day!!!!
I spent the next two days wandering around the sights in absolute awe!! The architecture was fascinating. The shopping streets were also very pleasing. I finally bought those new jeans to replace the old ones that seem to have shrunk in the wash?? I had to. The weather changed from a warm 32 degrees in Eastern Europe, to a very cool 22 degrees in Budapest and Krakow!!! Even the scarf came out!!!
Oh, that’s right, there was another thing I did last night while I watched the movie. Usually my Mum fixes my hem lines on any new jeans or trousers I buy. Well, I painstakingly stitched up the hem of my new jeans using the little complimentary sewing kit my beautiful Hotel provided. By some miracle I actually managed to thread the cotton through the tiny hole in the needle. I think it just slipped in by accident as I couldn’t even see a hole at the end of the needle. I just knew it was the opposite end to the pointy bit and poked the cotton towards that?? I am now just hoping no-one looks too hard at the bottom of my jeans. Hey Mum…when you read this….can you please fix them when I get home????
And again 4 nights just disappeared as quickly as they came. Oh, I just remembered!! Mum will be impressed with this. One night when I tried to watch some TV in Budapest, the only English channels I could find were news channels. So I ended up watching an Italian soapie!!
And now I think we are all up to date!! I decided to go back to Prague for another 3 nights as it rained so much last time I was there, I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. After Prague I am heading to Salzburg….home of the “Sound of Music” Movie!!! Can’t wait!!
And that’s it for now. Exactly one month left of this amazing journey. But how will it all end? Stay tuned for next week’s enthralling (??) episode of “Days of Joy’s life”!!!!!!
Yes, I agree, I think they are putting something weird in the water over here???
Made it to Prague safely and the weather is spectacular!!! Will try and have the photos for the last email and this one onto the blog by the end of the weekend. Will send a very very tiny email to let you know when.
Hope all is great with you all.