So after a fairly uneventful flight at an ungodly time in the early morning me and Mum reached Krakow with time to spare.
It was raining. Heavily.
I haven't been on a train for about 40 years and the last time my Mum was on a train it ran on steam so just for the novelty we got the train from the airport to central Krakow. I would recommend it for anyone. It's really cheap and it gives you the chance to see some of the countryside. A train journey was still a novelty to me then. It wouldn't be for much longer.
There is an enormous shopping centre at the train station in Krakow which is well worth a visit. It's more like a day trip. It's massive. A lot of the shops in it are those expensive, luxury items shops but it's still a good way to spend the day.
Rather than having to walk all the way back to the train station the next day for my ticket to Brzeg i decided to buy them when we had just arrived.
I lost the will to live in Krakow train station.
I always pride myself on not being a typical 'Brit' abroad. I respect that it's a different country with a different language. I don't expect everyone to speak English. I don't expect to get egg and chips and i bring my own Tea Bags. I also try to make a bit of an effort to learn a few words. 'Hello', 'Goodbye', 'Yes', 'No', 'Please', 'Thank You' etc. I confess that i find Polish a very difficult language. Even after all my years with Ewa the basics are all i've ever managed. And i'm not at all confident even with them.
I had all the train details written down so you would have thought it wouldn't be much of a problem. WRONG. I spent almost 3 hours just trying to buy a train ticket.
Firstly, i joined the queue at the 'Information' desk. About 30 minutes later i approached this hatchet faced woman with my first 'Do you speak English?' At the desk marked 'Information' you might have though there would be a chance that she did.
'A little' was the reply. So i handed her the details, she shuffled through some maps and papers before saying 'Ah..You need go to Tourist Information in City'. Now, i don't know much about Tourist Information but i do know that they don't sell train tickets.
No luck there then. Outside in the lobby i found a girl wearing a hideous orange T-Shirt which had a large badge pinned to it saying 'Need Help...Please Ask Me'. I did. She didn't speak any English at all but directed me to another desk with had a sign over it that stated 'INTERNATIONAL'.
Things were looking good. Just one elderly lady in the queue. Shouldn't be long now.
45 minutes later the queue now stretched half way around the room and the elderly lady was still there. What she was actually doing or buying remains a mystery but she did eventually move along accompanied by a brisk round of applause by those behind me in the line.
More disappointment at the 'International' desk. No English. She waved her hand at me in the approximate direction of about 30 ticket booths. Now all the ticket booths had little signs above them with what i presume were destinations on them. Which is all well and good if you can understand them. I settled on booth number 18. By now i realised the length of the queue wasn't an indication of how long i'd be there and by now i didn't really care. My Mum had finished reading 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare' and was just starting 'War and Peace' while waiting outside by now.
20 minutes later. Booth 18...no English but the teller did write down 15 on a scrap of paper which at least was a beginning after all that time. Only about 10 minutes at booth 15. Again no English but she did manage to understand my note and finally i had a return ticket to Brzeg. At least i hoped that i had. Couldn't understand what was written on the tickets. I wanted to ask if i missed one train could the ticket still be used for a later one but by now i really and truthfully had lost the will to live.
I was in a foul temper and i swear if i never see the inside of Krakow train station again it will be too soon, but ticket in hand it was still all go. Brzeg tomorrow.