03.07.2007 - 03.07.2007 27 °C
Beginning our journey at 8am we stood waiting on the Charlottenburg SBahn platform. Beginning to wonder about the lack of trains and signs reading 'Bitte Wartezeit' we heard an announcement. Luckily someone translated it for us and it turned out there were no trains running and we would have to catch the UBahn. We were beginning to panic, we knew our tickets were not valid on the Ubahn and we had to get our train from Hauptbahnhof at 9.38am. We had an awkward conversation with German train guards about the best way to get to the station. We illegally boarded the UBahn and travelled 14 stops. We were told to catch bus M14 from Hermansplatz station, however we could not find the right stop. At this point our rucksacks were feeling VERY heavy and our backs were feeling the burn. It was hot and muggy and we both felt faint but we soldiered on searching all the surrounding streets and eventually found the right bus. A couple of M14 buses drove past, terminating at our bus stop and again we panicked. Finally the bus arrived at 9.15am, we had 27 bus stops to go before we reached Hauptbahnhof. We started to plan another day in Berlin clinging onto the dream of the Reichstag.
Buses and backbacks don't mix. We were united with another backpacker though this struggle against the common man. A VERY friendly German with goggley eyes asked if we had heard about the rail strike. Not wanting to seem like the average British tourist we nodded and asked if international trains would also be affected. In his very pleasant manner he laughed and said "Yes...Delay has become an institution'. Our quote of the day. After a long pause he exclaimed "Hauptbahnhof is a loooooong way from here".
Getting off the bus at 10am we wandered into the station certain we had missed the train. Glancing at the departures board Lucy saw a 9.38 train delayed by 40 minutes. Screaming and jumping (yes jumping with backpacks) we realised it was OUR train to Krakow. We ran soooooooooo fast. It was a sprint to platform 12. We stormed onto the platform only to be met by lots of gloomy unhappy faces. Clearly not everyone was happy by the delay. After the initial celebrations were over we realised that the train didn't actually leave for another 10 minutes. Throwing my bag down I sprinted back to get some breakfast and lunch.
The very uneventful 10hour journey went past fairly quickly. We were kept amused on the Polish boarder by the armed passport control struggling with a womans suspicious passport. They eventually stopped the train and escorted her and her young daughter off. We watched them walk past smiling. Very suspicious.
As we entered Poland the scenery changed slightly. The stations were old and empty, the houses were covered in graffiti with smashed windows, people wandered about aimlessly on platforms some sitting on the plastic chairs watching the trains go by, dreaming of life in the big shiny city.
The sun began to shine as we drew nearer to Krakow travelling through the Polish countryside.
Krakow appeared to be much nicer, lots of lovely ornate buildings and gypsies asking us if we needed accommodation. How kind. We walked past all these lovely buildings towards our hostel.
The buildings became slightly more ramshackled. We were very tired from carrying our bags by this point. We eventually found our hostel, we wandered into the backyard to the 'reception'. It is cold, damp, grey, dingey, grubby, falling apart and generally not much like the pictures. Room is not much better.