It’s not a secret that Poland is a second home to me. I lived in Rzeszów for nine and a half months, in Warsaw for a whole year and I have just moved to Gdansk.
I obviously have countless memories from my time here, some of which are from my long trips in Polish trains. When I say long I mean time-wise, as the distance was often not that big. But well, when the average speed is 50km/h because of the train’s age and the multiple stops even rather short distance trips take a while. True, there’s a fast train now, Pendolino, but I haven’t taken it yet so I’ll just make cheap jokes about the old ones. My dear Poles, don’t be angry, I would do the same with Spain, but you have to admit it’s a little disturbing when the railway company wishes you a “nice trip”, quotation marks included.
I’m aware that except for perhaps the last story I’ll tell here, all the others are quite meh and any Pole that reads this will think “really? So much for this? I have way better”. I mean, my best friend told me a few weeks ago that once some scrap metal sellers stole part of the railway and they had to take a longer route because of that. My stories are not THAT weird.
Everything started with my trip to Kraków in 2007, although the only memory I have is thinking “we’re not there yet? Seriously?”
I would spend many hours on those trains a few years later during my Erasmus months. I went from Rzeszów to Kraków once a month more or less (150km and three horus approximately) and I was masochistic enough to go to Wroclaw once. I couldn’t really relax in the way there, since a Spanish couple I knew had been robbed in the exact same train, day and time one way before. I was a bit paranoid. Ok, big fat lie, I fell asleep after a hour and everything went fine.
The nine hour trip which became unbearable on the way back, though. I know it’s going to sound like I’m making a big deal out of nothing and it’s true, it wasn’t that bad. But imagine an overheated train (it was June and it was hot, and things there are NOT prepared for the heat), a trip from 11.30 to 20.30, nobody to talk to, nothing to read, nothing to eat and no music to listen to. Possibly the nine most boring hours of my life. And I just realized reading about them is as boring. Yay.
The best part of my Erasmus train trips? I read most of A Song of Ice and Fire during those seemingly endless hours.
Two more stories come to mind (I’m leaving the best for last, in case you’re getting bored, cursing under your breath). First of all a lovely train trip from Gdansk to Rzeszów in August 2015, from 7pm to 7am stuck in a compartment with a Ukranian family with two very young children who wouldn’t stop crying. At some point I tried to make funny faces to the children to make them smile and, just when it seemed they were getting in a better mood, their mother looked at me as if I was trying to kidnap them so I had to stop. They started crying thirty seconds later and didn’t stop for quite a long time. Lovely.
However there’s a moment that tops all others, the actual reason I’m writing this post. Last October I went from Warsaw to Poznan with a friend because of work. We were chatting in the corridor on our way back when two girls approached us. Promising.
Not really. They wanted us to close the wagon’s door because it was OPEN while we travelled. My friend held one of my hands while I tried to close the door with the other. No way.
Poles are visionaries. Why waste your time upgrading your trains with cool air conditioning devices when you can just keep the wagon door open? Well thought, well thought indeed.