The Business Class Flight
Last night was the first time I have slept more than four hours before leaving for a trip before, so I guess that’s a good sign? This will be a 30-day trip, my longest since the very first adventure, so I made sure to get as packed as possible as early as possible. It was still a scramble to get ready before heading to the airport for my first flight of the day, from Dallas (DFW) to Raleigh Durham (RDU). I'm flying on a family airline pass today, but the good news is that it looked like I would have no problems throughout the day with getting on flights.
My first flight was a breeze - the flight from Dallas to Raleigh was pretty quick and I made it on the flight with no problems which is all that really mattered. I landed in Raleigh with two hours to spare until my flight to London, United Kingdom. All day it looked like I would definitely get on the flight (which I still would), but now all of a sudden there was a small chance that I might get to sit in business. I thought there was no way, but everything seemed to be falling to give me a shot at it!
It was a painful two hours of waiting, that’s for sure. I would refresh the priority list on my phone every few minutes to see how it was going. It got worse, and then it got better. And then, with about an hour left, it looked like the last person was not going to show up. And they didn’t! So I got business!! I was so excited, especially for this trip, as I will be spending the night on a train tomorrow night so it would be two rough nights of sleep in a row. In my situation, the best part would actually be the arrivals lounge in London, where I would be able to take a shower and avoid feeling completely gross for the next two days.
The seat was, of course, amazing. I watched Girls Trip while eating dinner of lots of rolls, grapes, steak, and some really tasty caramel ice cream. After the movie finished I slept for about three hours, and as soon as I knew it we were landing in London. The other business perk is the fast track immigration lane! It was pretty slow this morning, so I can’t imagine how slow the regular line would have been. I headed straight to the arrivals lounge where I took a shower in the super nice facilities before having a pancake breakfast and then heading to the Heathrow Bus Terminal.
I took the National Express bus from Heathrow to Stansted instead of taking the Tube and then the Stansted Express. It was $10 more expensive but saved me a good two hours. I arrived at my least favorite airport in the world (Stansted) two hours early for my flight. I dealt with annoying security (it has never gone smoothly once for me) and then sat in the huge mosh of people waiting area for my gate to be announced. I finally had my gate, headed to my plane, and boarded. The flight itself was fine and I actually slept on and off for the entire two hours, which would be really helpful in helping me to make it through the day in Poland.
The Polish Dumplings
I arrived in Poland around 4:30pm. Immigration was a breeze and I took about a 45 minute Uber to the Krakow train station. When I arrived I bought my ticket for the overnight train tonight to Bratislava. Unfortunately, though, they couldn’t sell me a sleeper car ticket (apparently it was too close to departure) so I have to try and figure out how to buy it on the train. I then put my things in a locker which did not go as smoothly as it sounds. The first locker ate one of my coins, and the second one, once I put my things in, would not give me the key. Effectively, all of my belongings were now stuck in a locker.
I tried kicking the key, the locker, etc. I tried asking the man sitting across from the lockers in the luggage storage area for help, to which he so kindly responded “not my problem” and kept reading his book. I’ve had many encounters like this in Poland before so it wasn’t too shocking, but honestly just crazy annoying. I took off my coat, wrapped the key in my vest, and finally got it to turn! I don’t know what would have happened if that hadn’t worked, but thankfully I didn’t have to find out.
After struggling to store my things I got my signatures from the information desk where two very nice girls signed for me. I then took an Uber to the center of the Old Town to at least see a little of Krakow! I saw the Old Town Square, The Cloth Hall, and St. Mary’s Basilica. It was a very pretty area, as was all of Old Town that I saw. And, bonus, Krakow still has their Christmas decorations up!
After walking around (and freezing) I then headed to eat dinner at Klimaty Poludnia. It was a really cool spot right near Old Town. It was very popular and I was lucky enough to get the only non-reserved table! I had traditional Polish dumplings for dinner and they were so good! They were filled with chicken or cheese and had bacon on top. It was a hearty dinner and a much needed big meal. After dinner, I took an Uber back to the train station and luckily had no problems getting my things out of the locker.
I then had to wait, and wait, and wait. My train kept getting delayed until it would now be leaving an hour and a half late, sometime after midnight. Luckily the train station wasn’t too bad to wait in, as there was free wifi! The train finally arrived after midnight and the conductor would not sell me a sleeping ticket. He said they were sold out (the ticket people earlier said that it was not) so I think he just didn’t want to deal with me. I sat in my originally assigned seat in a compartment where there were two other people.
For the first three or so hours I slept uncomfortably on and off. One of the passengers left and another took her spot, and by this point, I was awake for good. It was at this point that I formally met Peter, who had been sleeping across from me. He’s a student from Australia travelling around Europe during his summer break (it took me a while to grasp the whole summer during winter thing). It was really great to make a new friend and talk with him for a few hours, especially because we were able to talk about each of our travels! Before I knew it the train was in Bratislava - how it arrived on time after being over an hour late is a mystery to me!
80 countries down, 116 to go.