Alcippe (alcippe) wrote,
Alcippe
alcippe

From Prague to Wroclaw

I got to the train station two hours early so I would be sure to make my train. Wandering into the station washroom I placed the appropriate coin in the dish, and taking a serving of toilet paper from the roll I went and stood in line. Two women were ahead of me in line and they seemed upset and soon stormed out. I waited for a stall to open up for a good five minutes before I noticed that no one was opening up. In fact, they were trading. One would come out of one stall and go into another; there was more than one chick in every stall. And then it hit me. These women live here. This is where they stay at night.

I took my coin back out of the dish, threw my toilet paper out and left the bathroom. The ladies room on the second floor was happily legit, so I wasn't completely out of luck.

I sat for hours watching people go to and fro, and watched the schedule update on the board. Finally my train was due to depart. It had come all the way from Moscow, according to the board. I asked the man at the information window which gate I should go to (just to double check) and he told me "two", just as the board has indicated. 

My train was already there when I get to the platform, and a large blond woman with pink lipstick in a blue uniform was taking tickets. I gave her my ticket and she looked at it perplexed as though there was something wrong. I began to ask if everything is alright, and she loudly and quickly said a lot of things that I didn't understand and waved me up into the train. 

Once on board I had no idea where to go. The car was filled with sleeper compartments, but I had no idea which one I should be in, so I went back down to the blond woman and tried to find out. She ignored me for the most part, and with another string of words I didn't understand she pointed me back into the train. So I went back in and made myself comfortable in one of the compartments. 

Twenty minutes later my peace was disturbed by one of the other conductors, and she was Not Happy. I got the feeling I had taken her spot (I had thought maybe the compartment was a little too nice). I shrugged and indicated that the large blond woman has allowed me to sleep there. There followed a scuffle of words between the two conductors, after which the blond woman came over to me and smiled, nodding that I should stay in the compartment.

I set my alarm for 4am so I would be awake for my transfer at Katowice and tried to get some sleep. I lay for hours in the dark, but was too stressed to sleep. I didn't trust the conductors to take care of me or make sure I got to where I needed to be, so I sat up, gathered my things, and readied myself to leave at a moments notice. The conductor had taken my ticket, so I had no idea when we would be arriving at Katowice. Every time the train made a stop I noted the station name. Hours ticked by slowly as the scenery floated by. We eventually hit a boarder and police came onboard for the passport check. I got my stamp and we were soon on our way.

Around 3am the blond conductor saw me sitting up with my backpack, and she yelled at me at length. "Katowice," I told her but she just shook her head. "No Katowice?" I asked, and she shook her head, waving her hands in irritation to dismiss me, and left to go to her cabin. I began to fear that I was on the wrong train. What if we were going TO Moscow, rather than riding on a train FROM Moscow? The dark scenery continued to stream by and I considered what I would do if I was in fact lost somewhere in the middle of the Ukraine or Russia. The words "American Embassy" crossed my mind.

At 4:30am we finally pulled up at the Katowice station and I thanked my lucky stars. Running down the train passage I found the blond conductor asleep in her cabin. "Katowice!" I announced to her loudly. She woke with a start and flailed around, looking for my ticket in the dim light. Thrusting it to me we made our way down to the exit, where she opened the door with her special key and let me out. I smiled weakly and waved, and she blearily smiled and waved back.

I found my way to the correct platform in time for the transfer, and I was safely on my way to Wroclaw. I sat in a crowded compartment, and leaned my head against the window to sleep. The woman across from me touched my knee and I opened my eyes to see that she had rolled up her coat into a pillow for me to put under my head, and I took it thankfully, comforted by the faux fur and smell of her perfume. I got two hours of sleep before we got to Wroclaw, and I handed the coat back with deep thanks before I got off.

Tags: europe
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