Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Day Two Prague, The One With the Ice Bar, the Unnecessary Reservations and a Sausage in a Box

Our first morning in Krakow began as the first night ended, with loud Germans. Throw in what appeared to be a dying bird and you don’t exactly get a pleasant wake up call. But we were up and ready to head off to Prague, one of the good things about our Krakow hostel was that they left out breakfast, typically the Germans had eaten the majority of it, but there was enough food for a good meal.

When we arrived at the train station we realised a flaw in our plan, we had to reserve to get onto the trains we needed. Now we did know that we would need to make reservations on the long distance trains but we didn’t think that we would have to reserve seats to get onto the smaller trains. So we joined the long queue of confused looking Brits waving around their Interrail passes and made reservations for our first two journeys. We then went to buy some snacks for the train however left this a little late and ended up running through a shopping centre with our massive backpacks on, luckily we made it with seconds to spare (this may be an exaggeration.)

Updating the twittering world!

I'm pretty sure that the first train was the Hogwarts Express and we managed to secure a cabin for ourselves, something that rarely happened on later journeys. This was one of the nicest train journeys we had, barely any stops and the time flew by, although when we did stop i'm certain it was because of Dementors. The genuine Hogwarts Express experience.

On the way to Hogwarts
Our next train ride of the day was an entertaining one, I hadn’t laughed so much for a long time. It started off innocently when the man that runs the food trolley came into our cabin and asked if we had seen his crocs. Sure enough the missing crocs were underneath my chair, a little later I went to buy some food as I hadn’t bought anything at the last station. When I got to the restaurant carriage the man working there told me that they didn’t have any sandwiches available but he could make me a “frankfurter with bread” which I assumed was going to be a hotdog. But when you assume you make an ass out of you and me, and I tend to do that a lot. What I was handed was two hotdogs in a box with five pieces of bread. Not even an equal amount of bread to make a sandwich with. After this entertained Karl and Dan for a while and I had constructed several mini sandwiches the trolley man came with complimentary snacks, juice/water and a biscuit. However not the nice biscuits, they were for first class only. This was also our first encounter with unwanted sparkling water, something that would haunt the rest of the trip.

My unexpected meal

Free Juice (Although I asked for Orange)
The downside to the journey between Krakow and Prague was the fact that our reservations were not checked on the first two trains leading to a very irritated Dan. Because of this we decided to get on our third train without making a reservation but as we got on we saw the signs on the doors stating that we would need  a reservation, thankfully they did look at them on this train and it wasn't a complete waste of money. If you are Interrailing read the small print carefully, i'm sure most people know and we were just optimistic but if its not a regional train make sure you reserve! 

The hostel in Prague started off our long chain of having 0% luck in finding the hostel. It wasn’t that the instructions were bad, we did actually manage to find the street it was on at one point but we didn’t realise we were on the right street and walked right past the hostel. About 30 minutes later, after several stops to relieve our backs and a trip into a bar where 3 overly helpful men raced to show me where to go on Google maps, we found it. The hostel we stayed in was Hostel Arnosta, it was a big place with helpful staff, there were plenty of showers and although there were only two toilets there was never a queue to use them. The only minor issue was that the wifi didn’t work in the rooms and only seemed to work if you sat on the stairs near the reception so there was a constant group of people sitting around there and making use of the wifi.

A similar room to the one we stayed in.
That night we decided to try out Pragues famous night club Karlovy Lazne. It’s the biggest music club in Central Europe and with five floors really had something for everyone, at 180czk its about £6 to get in and it was worth every penny since there really was something for everyone there. When we went in we went to an ice bar, you pay 140czk (About £5) to get in and it gets you  a cocktail (which comes in an ice glass.) The walls, bar, tables and sculptures were all made of ice and it was kept at -7 degrees so was pretty freezing but we were given big coats and gloves so it was unlikely that we would get hypothermia. I would happily have spent more time in there but i'm not sure how my body would have coped with the cold.

An Ice cold drink.

Looking cool.
Ice Queen

We spent a long time in the club going to all the different floors and finding out what the music was like on each. There was Radio Hits (which was basically a selection of odd foreign songs,) dance, oldies (cheese,) R&B and chillout. It was a really good night and definitely worth going to if you are ever in Prague. After we had tried out all of the floors we headed home and although Karl steered us off in the wrong direction when he didn’t think I had taken us the right way we all got home safe and sound after having an amazing night. 

Practicing my Rocky
For more information on Hostel Arnosta Click Here

For more information on Karlovy Lazne Click Here

For more information on the Ice Bar Click Here

Follow me on Twitter here

Credit for most of the photos goes to @dan_magid who had a much better camera than me and is pretty good at this photo business.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Krakow Calling!

So I've finally written this blog post, I have no excuse for why I didn't do it sooner, I have the attention span of a drunk goldfish. Anyway hope you enjoy day one, planning to do one of these a week, I give myself a week!

Now anyone that knows me will know that I am definitely not, in any shape or form, a morning person. It’s rare that I am up before 10 o’clock, and when I am I cant say that I am a social person to be around. But with an early flight I had to be up, if not social. I won’t go into detail about the airport, it was just standard early morning airport, we had a Panini (which I feel is a necessity in any airport) and after being informed that you can in fact get hay fever in Poland we were on the plane. It was a pretty standard flight although slightly worrying when the seatbelt signs came on midtrip, but we landed safely and that’s all that matters.

We got our bags quite quickly after arriving and headed straight to the city centre, here we encountered our first slight problem. Polish people hate notes. Even though their currency mainly consists of notes, the man on the train was extremely grumpy and didn’t want to take our paper money, we were clearly behaving unacceptably. But after playing the dumb tourist he did take the offending notes, unfortunately this was not the only money mishap encountered during our journey, but that's a story for another day. 

Taking in the sites!

When we arrived in Krakow we found the hostel quite easily, although we thought it took us a while, the 15 minutes it took to find it were nothing in comparison to the 3 hours it would take us in Munich, if only we had known that 15 minutes would by far be the fastest journey to a hostel! In Krakow we stayed in the Blue Hostel, at about £12 for a night it was a decent price for what we got, a decent sized room (we were given a room for four although there were three of us), there was free wifi, breakfast, the showers were good and the staff were friendly so I would definitely recommend the hostel to anyone planning on staying in Krakow. 
A couple of tweets from the day

After getting ourselves sorted we went to explore the town and get some food, there are so many restaurants and cafes to choose from in the main square it was nearly impossible, with all of us being quite indecisive, but they were all around the same price and selling similar food. When we settled down to eat we had our first experience of a street performer, although I’m not sure he can be called a street performer. The strange man playing the violin extremely badly was just making his way down all the restaurants playing exactly the same song, it would have been tolerable if we only had to listen to it once but because the buildings were so close to each other we had to listen to the terrible tune a good four or five times before he was out of earshot. 

Happy to finally get some food!

We then headed down to the Old Town and Jewish quarter where we found Schindler’s Factory, it was really interesting and one of the biggest museums I’ve ever been in, I would definitely recommend a trip there if you are in the area. It was really worth the entry price and full of exhibitions and interactive displays.

Dan in Schindler's Factory, looking at messages from people helped by non-jews

A little later in the evening we headed back to the main square and saw a variety of entertaining street acts including musicians, street dancers and a ballerina with a unicorn head, I’m not sure what the last one was meant to be. It was just scary.

The extremely organised Pub Crawl in the background wasn't part of the act

Terrifying Unicorn

We had quite an early night in Krakow since we were all tired from the early morning and we had managed to pack quite a lot into one day. At least it would have been an early night if it hadn’t been for the overly loud Germans next door. I wish that had been the end of the irritating roommates. It was only the beginning. 

                          Weird Sign of the Day

For more information on the Blue Hostel Click Here

For more information on Schindler's Factory Click Here

Follow me on Twitter here

Credit for most of the photos goes to @dan_magid who had a much better camera than me, and is pretty good at taking photos!