Let me start my story today by stating that you should never, ever disembark at a railway station without researching it first.
In Prague I purchased tickets to Krakow, Poland and was advised to get off at a station called Opoczno Poludniow (henceforth known as the Ice Station) in order to change trains. The wait time for the connecting train would be 15 minutes. Lots of people go to Krakow. I didn’t question this logic. I should have…
The train from Prague to the Ice Station seemed to have a lot of delays. I wasn’t too concerned as there is always somewhere warm to sit and read when waiting for trains. No. There isn’t.
On a positive note, I absolutely loved the scenery between Prague and coming into Poland. The snow makes everything look so beautiful. I took a few videos and photos which I will link below:
When I stepped off the train at the Ice Station I looked around and within 15 seconds realised something wasn’t right. Within 14 seconds the train had taken off though.
There was nothing there.
Basically the closest building looked on the map to be about 60km away (just checked and there was a town 6km away so not toooo bad). There were two other girls (coincidentally Australian – Monique and Sasha) who I had heard saying on the train that they were going to Krakow. They seemed to know the trains well but unfortunately that didn’t matter as they kept getting delayed. An additional problem was that we couldn’t understand the announcements over the speaker. After 40 minutes and during which time I had called AIG for help (hey it was worth a shot… short of suggesting emergency evacuation they were useless) I got panicky. I was freezing cold and could no longer feel my fingers or feet. People were showing up in cars but staying in them to wait for their trains.
A lovely couple, whose names we didn’t catch, took pity on us (I was crouched in a corner rocking back and forth on my feet so was pretty much crying for help) let us sit in the back of their car after a while. We were desperate so this seemed ideal. It was funny as they knew no English and we knew no Polish. Two hours later and I was starting to feel blood in my feet and fingers again. The phone rang and a lady who could speak English (turned out to be Iza, the couple’s daughter) came on the phone. She told us that the train would FINALLY arrive in 9 minutes. At this stage I wasn’t fussed about whether I went to Krakow or Warsaw, just so long as I couod get on a train! We passed on our thanks and took off to the platform. There were many others waiting now and some spoke English. Interestingly some of the people had shown up on a train from Warsaw and had also been advised to connect at this station. Their language skills were particularly useful when another announcement came over saying the train was delayed…
Eventually the train arrived and I couldn’t have been happier. When the ticket person came up to me and muttered something in Polish after looking at my ticket (clearly for a train many hours earlier that was meant to connect with the first one) I let him know I was not impressed about waiting in -14°C temperatures. He quickly moved on… he could probably see how red my face was and figured I was one of the poor souls left to freeze at the Ice Station. Must be a game they play on unsuspecting foreigners?
Krakow seems really lovely and I am excited about adventuring tomorrow.
6 January is a public holiday in Poland in commemoration of Epiphany Day.