Kraków Part III – A Ride On The Night Train

After such a powerful, moving day, we came back to Kraków and decompressed at a café on the main square.

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It’s incredible how different the city felt from the grey, drizzly, cold weather of Tuesday and the bright, sunny, warm weather of Wednesday. It almost felt like a different place.

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We shopped around a bit before having a rather extravagant dinner. The exchange rate in Poland is about 4 Polish Zloty to 1 US Dollar and everything is comically cheap. I took out $100 in cash my first night. After getting breakfast in the morning, I quickly texted Mikela to not pull out any extra cash; I wasn’t sure if we could spend what I had between the two of us! And since we still had a pretty significant amount of cash left, we went all out for dinner.

Still trying to spend our remaining cash, we stocked up on snacks and wine before heading to the train station. While Westely thankfully saved me from taking the night train from Prague to Kraków, Mikela and I decided to go for it on the way home. Taking the Reggio Jet bus would have meant we lost a full day and since we only had a week, we figured we would opt for an uncomfortable night so we could take full advantage of our days. Plus, there were two of us, so we could ward off any gypsies that might try to pickpocket us (that’s a real thing on these night trains).

A quick aside, getting these train tickets was quite the process. Czech Railways doesn’t let you book a sleeper car through their website. However, Polrail Service (the Polish equivalent) does. Czech Railways is technically the operator, but since the train originates in Poland, apparently they share ticketing rights.

Not feeling uber confident, I booked our sleeper car tickets and hoped for the best. While checking out, I was given the option to mail my tickets to my billing address or have them couriered to my hotel. Slightly confused by this, I chose to courier them seeing as I definitely didn’t have time to send them to the US then back to Europe. I emailed Polrail to confirm that they would in fact be delivered to our hotel, not really expecting a response but figuring I should at least try. Shortly thereafter, I received a personalized email from Polrail informing me that my tickets would be waiting for me at my hotel when I checked in. And surprise, when I checked in Monday night, I was handed a package containing our train tickets.

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Please note the handwritten sleeper bed reservations.

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Apparently printing tickets at home and/or mobile train tickets have not yet made it to Poland. But to be honest, it was kind of nice having a package waiting for you upon check in.

Suffice it to say that as Mikela and I walked to the train station, we were not convinced that we’d a) be let on the train or b) actually have a bed reserved. We found our carriage, showed our (handwritten) tickets to the train steward and happily stepped on when he pointed us to our berth – they worked!

Our happiness quickly diminished when we poked our heads inside our sleeper car and saw what we were dealing with. This was no old-timey, glamorous train travel. This was a compact, 6-person sleeper car with two rather large elderly women already inside. We all four looked at each other and immediately started laughing.

Our roommates were two 70+ year old New Zealand ladies who were traveling through Europe together for 10 weeks. We all started chatting as we somehow managed to get the four of us and our bags into the sleeper car and onto our individual beds. And that’s when Mikela and I came down with an extreme case of the giggles.

Our beds were hardly long enough for us to stretch out and we had about 18” between the bed and the ceiling. The aisle between was hardly wide enough for someone to fit, I could easily hold touch Mikela across the way if I wanted.

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Luckily, there was no one in the middle two beds and our Kiwi roommates were on the bottom bunks. To say it was a tight squeeze would be the understatement of the year.

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Every time I’d look over at Mikela trying to make her bed, I’d completely lose it. Hell, I’m completely losing it right now – I keep bursting out laughing trying to write this.

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Clearly the most flattering picture of me ever.

We somehow managed to successfully make our beds, although I’m still not quite sure how. Our hopes of enjoying our bottle of wine were quickly diminished when we realized we were pretty much confined to lying flat. Although quite remarkably, one of the New Zealand ladies downed a mini bottle of wine in about 4 gulps – this clearly wasn’t her first rodeo. We did, however, pull out our wafer cookies and enjoy a few.

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But because of how we were all shoved in there, we realized every time we’d take a bite, some crumbs would fall into our roommate’s cleavage.

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Queue another fit of giggles.

As we started the trek towards Prague, our train steward came by to remind us to lock our door, that we didn’t want any gypsies coming in to steal our things. See, it is a real thing! Good thing we were protected by our Kiwi roommates.

With nothing really to do, we figured we’d try to get some sleep. And shockingly, we both slept pretty well! Before we knew it, our train steward was coming by to wake us up, we were 15 minutes away from Prague.

So no, it wasn’t glamorous. And it probably wasn’t very clean. And it wasn’t at all what we expected. But we didn’t have to waste a full day getting to Prague and my cheeks hurt from laughing so hard. So I think it was totally worth it.

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