Monday, 18 April 2016

The Sleeper train from Krakow to Budapest ….

One thing I could say is that unless I am ever desperate again I will never use a sleeper train ever again in Europe. While trains are an amazing and efficient thing in the European zone, the assumption that the sleeper train would get you a good night rest while saving money on accommodation for one night and magically transporting you to the next destination it is more a misconception usually enforce with the idea that a Europe backpacking trip is not complete without a sleeper experience ….
Sleeper Train from Krakow to Budapest

I would concur that one would need to experience it to understand the subtle cruelty of the European train system. If you are fortunate that the overnight sleeper trains does not cover any tricky border crossing with immigration or customs checking than that is at least one problem relieved. I had one of those fortunately.

Travelling in summer means ….. the sleeper train is superbly hot …. I remember laying on that small compartment room with six narrow beds or bunks or a pad depending on one’s standards or ideal of a bed and recalling back my childhood days in Malaysia when we all had tried to sleep in the heatwave without air-conditioning nor a fan. The trick was to human fan yourself to sleep with a piece of cardboard and when you are tired enough even with sweat soaking the t-shirts and everything else one will finally find the bliss of sleeping in water. A feet not easily accomplish …. Unless one has a bad fewer.

I also suspected that the bed was probably infested with bed bugs …. Hence I was sleeping in jeans and long sleeve shirts despite how hot it was …. One could say it’s impossible, since they will change and clean the train … but when you are in the compartment, judge for yourself if you are willing to take the risk. Even without the chance of bedbugs the material used for the bed and blankets somehow seemed to be coated with itching powder …..

Good night sleep is a daydream fantasy on a sleeper train ….

Now if you can sleep on a moving train that clanks and shakes and vibrates, good for you …. And even better for the thief that will be watching out for that moment and carry your bag away at night. I was really most worried about the thieving bastards …. Hence all my luggage was place in a way it was not easily taken without shaking someone up …. The compartment was drastically small after all … one piece of advice … do not leave any luggage next to the door ….

I did made it to Budapest in one piece but for an 80 euro ticket it was really not worth the journey …. The couple in the same compartment even had a interail pass and still had to pay 35 euro for the reservation fee ….

In short … sleeper train = Expensive + No Sleep + Danger

Happy travelling

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Krakow is charming ….

Krakow …. The problem of visiting too many beautiful cities is that it numbs the experience. I think I had mention that even on my first RTW travels so this issue was becoming more of a norm for me the more I travel. Without company to keep things interesting boredom creeps in faster than usual and in Krakow I quickly become adjusted and it was just another city to me.
Krakow River
Krakow Suburbs Canal
Now if I ignore how I felt in Krakow which was bored and look at it as a tourist perspective it was quite clear that it was a charming tourist place. Lush River that flows with beautiful banks and scenery that people made full use of cycling, jogging, picnic and even sun bathing on the grass along the banks. This was not a seaside town but it does feels like one the way they treat the beautiful river.
Long boats, canoe and even a floating hostel with a restaurant on top of it was the spectacular way of how they fully enjoy their one big river running though the city. The old town was charming of course with a few iconic buildings and towers and they even have a Castle in Krakow. From a tourist point of view Krakow was a place full with entertainment.

Krakow City Gate

Food was unique for Polish had their own cuisine and to further entice tourism they had all the horse pulled carriage with full traditional costume dresses running all around the old town.

Open Market Food in Krakow

Lamb Rack dish in Krakow

Great for a lazy tourist ….. a pain for a genuine traveller.
My Casino Addict continues …

I thought I had escaped from the Casino streak when after walking a whole day I had not seen any in sight. I even used google to find it and for some reason the one pointed near the old town was missing ….. maybe closed down I guess but when I was so happy that all forms of temptation was not possible, on the way back to the hostel I saw an unmarked Casino. Unmarked as in not marked on any of the online google search.
How could this be in this day and age was beyond me. It was not even a dodgy one but just a small one, professionally fun and had just one roulette table, one black jack table, one poker table and one hold-em table. For such a small Casino that they would have live table games was already amazing. Crystal Casino was the name of the place.

Worst of worst scenario is that I was escaping from the Krakow heat which was very hot and spend most of my time in that place. Who could really resist really when they were 5 PLN a bet for black jack … about 1 euro … lowest fair odds I had ever played. …. I made profit both days gambling for 4 to 5 hours straight …. Frist day took out 200 PLN and the second day as well another 200 PLN …. Needless to say I had subsidise my trip in Poland and was leaving with surplase which I change in the money changer for a less than optimized rate …. Then again it was gambling money …. Who cares … walk away ….

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Warsaw - Poland

Surprisingly the bus journey from Lithuania to Warsaw only cost me 16 euro and on an overnight bus at that. We did get stopped somewhere along the road for police inspection and while checking all the passport mine was withheld for further checking. The police went off the bus with my passport and a few other as a well and kept us by the side road at 2 am in the morning for nearly an hour before deciding everything was ok.

Modern Warsaw
First taste of Polish hospitality was at the train station(this was where the bus dropped us off in the early morning). Information desk said to go to the ticketing desk for future train purchases or information and at the ticketing desk they directed me to the information desk …. Too lack of sleep to bother I left the train station to find the hostel …. Good thing too for 3 days later I just turn up and buy a ticket on the spot to Krakow which cost as little as PLN 49 … ~ 10 euro.

Warsaw …. Was modern beyond words and base on the history of Warsaw and Poland for that matter everything was destroyed in WWII. It’s amazing how they could rebuilt everything regardless. Proof to show that humans are as resilient as hell. As big as Warsaw is I was constrained to where my feet could take me. The summer heat was finally getting to me if not the laziness that I brought with me from the Baltics countries. It was blazing hot walking around Warsaw in July and one would melt if not in the shade.
New Organized Warsaw


War Memorial of Warsaw

Somehow when in this crazy heatwave I miss the cold weather of Patagonia …. But I know I would curse when I am too cold as well … It’s so hard to find that fine balance. I tried the walking tour and after that was too exhausted to explore much on my own. I did manage to walk pretty much a lot without knowing but every day I seek 2 hours of shelter in the Cinema watching whatever was on at that time.

Food wise I was stuck with the polish chain version of fast food …. Pierogi outlets where they served traditional polish cuisine and the waiters were all girls in fluffy flowery dresses with short mini skirts …. The food were good amazingly plus it was reasonable considering how loaded I was and the eye candy did help too … I ate there 3 times in two days …..
Polish Stew
I could not escape the casino of course although I was finally out of the Baltics …. There is always one and this one was Casino Poland located inside the Marriot Hotel …. The first day for some reason I could not find the entry and never did thought it would be inside the hotel for I saw the big sign outside in the building walls. …. Second day I walked in the hotel regardless thinking I dun give a dam what people think anyway if I dun have money since no one knows me here …. True indeed Casino Poland was there and I was gambling for hours … only to chalk up PLN 200 …. Well a win is always better than a lost …
Next day I ran as fast as I could … Krakow …. But Krakow had one too …