The train rolled into Krakow Glowny Station at approximately 6.30am. I had a peaceful night’s sleep and was raring to step onto Polish soil. The Town Square was the first thing that greeted me when I stepped out of the station. The sun was just starting to rise and the deserted Square looked stunning. It would be the last time I saw the Square as empty as this.
I am still not learning how to navigate, as once again I found myself lost and struggling to find my hostel. I had noted down the directions given on the website, but having not consulted a map I was as good as working blind. Oh A….when will you learn? The walk proved to be further than expected and I was starting to get quite frustrated. I was definitely on the right road…but it was a very long road. No matter, I pushed on and finally found where I was supposed to be going. I sighed with relief: I really want to have a nice cold shower.
That shower will have to wait though; check-in’s not till the afternoon. No matter, I’m going to get some free breakfast and book a tour to Auschwitz for tomorrow. I also took the chance to inspect my battle scars from a couple of nights ago. The soreness was still there, and there was some visible bruising. Usually they look worse as they heal.
To kill some time, I decided to go for a walk around town and buy my overnight train tickets to Vienna before I forget. The ‘failing to look for directions properly’ part aside, I was surprisingly well-organised. It was a beautiful sunny day, and after I had bought my tickets to Vienna, I decided to have a look at the shopping centre next to the train station. Claire’s was having a store-wide sale, so I bought a pair or doughnut shaped earrings and another silver pair. Did I mention that the doughnuts had pink icing and rainbow sprinkles? The look like the ones Homer Simpson chomps on in ‘The Simpsons’. There was also an insect exhibit in the mall which I also found very entertaining. I also got to drink bubble tea for the very first time in a very long time! Yeah I’m a bit of an addict.
I got back to the hostel at around mid-day and was FINALLY able to check-in and yes, have that shower. It was the nicest shower I’ve had in a loooong time. I came across a tour company called ‘Crazy Guides’, which organises weird and wonderful tours and activities which were so not mainstream. There was an AK-48 shooting trip which costs around AUD $100 for one person. I thought about it for a while, before deciding that ‘hey, I’m on holiday!’ I sent the company an email inquiring about the trip.
And now we wait.
Meanwhile, there was a free walking tour of the Jewish Quarter happening at 2pm in the Town Square. The tour took us through to the most well-known Jewish areas in Krakow, including the filming locations for ‘Schindler’s List’. Needless to say, those areas were extremely small, and extremely crowded. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, not only about Jewish history but also about the best ice-cream in Krakow. Unfortunately, the line was too long and my inner-Singaporean refused to join. Sarah, a girl I met on the tour and staying at the same hostel, decided to go to lunch with me. I wanted to try Polish food but that was quite scarce in the area we were in. We settled on some quick ‘Chinese’ food instead. It was nothing I had ever eaten in Australia or in Asia before, but it was interesting to see what Polist-style Chinese food was like. It was quite nice actually, even though it was different and barely close to ‘authentic’. It was also ridiculously cheap.
Sarah told me that she was going to move to a different hostel as she wanted a ‘livelier’ atmosphere. I don’t know what she meant by that, as it seemed pretty lively when I got back in the evening. There was a free Polish vodka tasting event on and needless to say, everyone was really getting into the action. There were vodkas of every flavour your could imagine: banana, berry….you name it, they’ve got it. With the fallout of what happened in Prague still fresh on my mind, I was rather cautious in my approach. They certainly don’t dilute the stuff here! A large and lively group of travellers had gathered in the kitchen area and were busy socialising and sampling the stuff. There was a bald Polish guy who was acting as a ‘vodka ambassador’, handling out shots to everyone he saw and demanding that they down it. He would then proceed to give out another one. I thought he was the guy who worked at reception, but it turns out that the only thing they had in common was that they were bald and Polish. Later, another hostel guest confided in me that she had also made the same mistake. And we weren’t even halfway to intoxicated.
I started chatting to a Japanese girl, Yuki, who was there with her boyfriend Nathan. We were later joined by a Swiss guy name BD, and I decided that it would be nice to have a night out on the town. Yuki was tired, but told Nathan to go if he was up for it; he was. So off we went, BD, Nathan and I. The boys were already visibly intoxicated while I still had quite a bit of energy left in me. We wandered around the streets, trying to find a place BD had been to a couple of nights ago. We didn’t find it, but we did find a place called ‘Disco Pub’. It was very quiet on a Sunday night; there were about 6 people in there including us three. We made our way to the dance floor…and found a dance pole and podium there. My trial pole dance lesson fresh in my mind, I decided that this was a good opportunity to show off my good gyrations. The only issue: the music was as tacky as the name of the bar. As its name suggests, the joint plays disco music, or music from that era. It was the first time I had free range to dance with a pole, and it was very liberating when I didn’t have to worry about technique like when I was in dance class (update: I decided to teach myself pole-dancing after I returned to Australia.). I let loose on ‘Funkytown’, but was a little caught out when some reggae-style song came on. All three of us had to make do with some awkward, slow side-stepping dance moves.
Same pole, same club
At around 1am, the pub closed and we once again found ourselves out on the street. By then, I was convinced that they boys were not exactly 100% sober. Nathan was glassy-eyed and rambling on about strange things, and BD….well, his suggested that he was not all quite there too. But nonetheless, the night was about to get more surreal. The boys checked in to the pub directly across from the hostel entrance and continued to down mugs of beers. I wasn’t a beer person, so I decided to just enjoy the social aspect of our gathering. It’s interesting how the intoxication brought out the most intellectual side of both BD and Nathan. With a tone of absolute seriousness, both of them decided to grill me on the reasons why I refused to date a guy like BD. The discussion brought up a lot of personal issues I had with my past, and also with someone I had back in Australia. The boys were not deterred, and continued to offer me advice and support about my issues. I am still very grateful to them for their presence that night, and their friendship which continues to this day. Nonetheless, it was still quite amusing watching the mood get more and more intense as our own personal issues started to become an intense campfire discussion. It was the most intimate drinking session I’ve had in my life.
We eventually moved the party back to the hostel common area. There were rules stating that the common area was to be kept quiet after midnight, but since we weren’t yelling and smashing vodka glasses, I figured out that we wouldn’t be kicked out. The discussion on my personal life continued, and the garish pink couch in the common area became the ‘interrogation chair’: whoever sits in it, gets interrogated. The first question didn’t go down so well; my answer was apparently so good that the boys were taken aback and had to rethink their ‘strategy’. Nathan had a round of interrogation too, but nothing too personal came out from that. All I knew was, there was NO WAY Nathan was going to get up early tomorrow morning. He wandered off at some point, leaving BD and I to discuss the fallout of our epic discussion. As I had an early morning tour tomorrow, we both called it a night at around 3am.
Boy…that 7am wake-up is going to hurrrrrt.