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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rachael and Carrie spend an enternity on a train.

8:24 pm CET

So our eleven-hour train ride from Budapest to Krakow somehow ended up taking a not in any way infuriating twenty. The train first broke down about half an hour after leaving. Outside our compartment window we saw this huge flash and then the train screeched to a complete stop. We sat in the middle of "bumfuck nowhere" (as Carrie kept saying) for at least an hour or two as electrical trucks showed up one by one to try to fix the problem. We passed the time with games and stories, but we soon gave up waiting for the train, at which point, of course, we started moving again. By the time we reached the second major stop in Slovakia it was midnight and, once again, the train must have broken down because we remained stationary for the rest of the night. To make things worse, upon waking at six (since that was when we were supposed to be arriving in Krakow) we found that we were still in the same goddamn place. We were not too happy, to say the least.

Fast forward to nine stop-and-go hours later and that was when we finally arrived in Krakow. Luckily the hostel is right across the square from the train station, so it didn't take too long to find. We checked in, got some complementary tea and a quick overview of the city, and went to our room to put our bags away and get ready for a couple hours out on the town. We'd missed all the daylight, unfortunately, so we braved the chill and inky darkness to explore. I wish I could have seen everything in the sunlight, but it was lovely at night, too. We walked through most of the Old Town, which sort of reminded me of a less-cramped Prague. There were several churches and shops and restaurants, and a market and a clock tower. When the hour struck six, a trumpet player sounded some notes from the top of the tower, and his song was echoed from the steeples of two nearby churches. It was really awesome! Almost as though they were talking to one another.

We walked around for a bit more, wandering till we got hungry enough to return to the hostel for dinner (we'd only each eaten some oranges and a bowl of cornflakes all day).The reception staff had cooked a traditional Polish meal for the guests, and who are we to turn down free food? We met a whole bunch of people: a guy from Spain, two from Brazil, one from Finland, an older guy from Melbourne, Australia, Phil from England, and his friend Trisha from Ireland (whose accent is awesome, by the way; I wish I had a cool accent...). We all chatted over our food and exchanged quick background stories and future plans; they are definitely the nicest bunch of people I've met on my travels so far. I doubt we'll see much of them again since we're leaving tomorrow, but I am glad to have had the chance to talk; that's what hostels are all about, right?

Carrie and I booked a half-day tour to Auschwitz for tomorrow morning and afternoon. I'm feeling something akin to dread; I want to go, but I am more than a little scared...

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