|The journey to Krakow was uneventful. After breakfast (another great one) we checked and walked the 300 meters to the train station. The stations in Poland have been a little different to Russia, China and everywhere else we've been so far. There are no waiting rooms or main station concourse. It's more like a collection of platforms connected by a subway (tunnel) or an overhead walkway. Throw in a few shops (like in a shopping arcade) and ticket kiosks and there you have it.
We got to the station in plenty of time (in retrospect, far too early but that's my way) but there was nowhere to sit and wait. There weren't even seats or benches on the platforms. So we waiting, and waited, and waited. Finally the train arrived at exactly the schedule time for departure. Everyone scrambled aboard and we were off again in less than two minutes. They didn't hang around. You wouldn't have wanted to duck off to the loo at the wrong time, I can tell you!
Less than four hours later we pulled in to Krakow. The exit signs left a bit to be desired and, instead of going down and under the tracks, we went up and over, and ended up in ..... the rooftop car park! When you have no escalators, and the lifts don't work, it becomes a real pain in the ass carrying 20+ kilo bags up and down multiple flights of stairs. Anyway, we finally worked out how to get out of the station and headed off to our hotel.
After checking in we wandered down to the old town. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, so we took our time and relaxed in the holiday atmosphere. We found a Polish restaurant in the cellar of one of the buildings and had a most enjoyable dinner before catching a tram back to our hotel. The next day we visited the Royal Castle and Cathedral on top of Wawel Hill before visiting the old Jewish section. Needless to say, it hasen't been Jewish for quite a while.
The biggest issue we've had has been trying to buy onward tickets to Prague. That's right, another change of plans. Instead of going to Budapest, we've now decided to go to Prague and then on to Vienna. We have a number of options from there but will work that out later.
Anyway, we went back to the station this morning to but tickets to Prague (via Katowice and Ostrava - no direct trains unfortunately). Now we approached it from the bus station side and proceeded down the tunnel connecting the platforms. There were fourteen ticket kiosks selling domestic tickets. For the life of us, we couldn't find any selling international tickets. Neither could we find any information or general enquiry kiosks/windows. I queued up at a couple and asked where could we buy tickets and was waved away with shouts of "TUNNEL, TUNNEL".
I may have mentioned earlier (when we arrived) that the signage around the station was lacking. Same problem here. However we kept looking and finally found the "station" in a separate building about two hundred meters away from where the platforms were. It had information, domestic and international tickets, left luggage etc, but still no waiting room. We took our place in the queue and finally bought our tickets. What a drama.
Tomorrow we'll spend the day travelling to another European country which doesn't use the Euro. It's becoming another pain in the ass with all the different currencies, not to mention keeping track of the different exchange rates. I can't wait until we get to Austria.
Until then, keep having fun and take care.
Brian & Katherine