Planes, Trains and Automobiles

36 hours after leaving my hotel in Palermo I finally made it back home to Wrocław. Bad weather conditions never really affected any of my previous travel arrangements and only now do I know how mother nature can turn a seemingly easy travel itinerary into a nerve racking nightmare. Well, not a nightmare I suppose, you need to be able to sleep to get those, and I haven’t in 36 hours.

The Palermo-Milan-Warsaw leg of the trip went fine, it’s the final flight to Wrocław that got diverted back to Warsaw after a thick fog cover shattered any hope of landing only 10 minutes away from my home. We were supposed to land in Wrocław at 11:30pm , at midnight we found out that we couldn’t circle the city anymore and flew back to Warsaw to land there at 12:30 at night. By 1:30am we all had gotten our luggage, and got in line to get booked on a morning flight and possibly get a hotel. We did both by 2:30am, and by 3am I was sitting in my room across the street from Chopin International Airport wondering if I should even fall asleep since I need to wake up at 5am to catch my 7am flight.

I got about an hour of shut-eye, left the hotel at 6am, and at 7:30 found out the plane was delayed 30 minutes, then another 30 after that, only to be canceled altogether by 8:30am. Along with a few people we decided to poke fun at it all, since crying was our only other option. Jokes were flying, no pun intended, and stories from all corners of the world kept us busy, but weren’t getting us anywhere closer to Wrocław. We found out that the 1:30pm flight was already full, but it had no certainty of ever landing in Wrocław to begin with. So we all decided the train was our only other option.

Trains in Poland have a love and hate relationship with their passengers. We love that in theory you can get to anywhere in Poland by train, and hate the fact that it will take you forever and a day to get there if you decide to ride it. Outside the airport we found a van type taxi but it was already booked; it was rented out to drive some passengers to Wrocław. The idea sounded stupid at first and the price sounded ridiculous altogether, but then we did some math and figured that if we had a full car it wouldn’t be more expensive than the train itself; $50 US Dollars for the train vs. $75 for the taxi. We quickly got three more people from the ‘complaint’ desk at the airport, people that were more than happy to just get the hell out of there, and we drove back to Wrocław in our very own rented taxi. Passenger manifesto was as follows; Łukasz was coming back for the holidays from Denmark, both Grzesiek’s flew in from Finland, Pierre, a Frenchman, was flying in from Geneva, and Irene and her friend came from southern Spain. Seven complete strangers taking a trip across Poland, it kind of sounded like a Road Rules episode.

The ride took 5 hours and it made for some funny multilingual conversations. I learned a new Spanish twist on a Polish word; Pierre lived in southern France and spoke Spanish fluently, and having a Polish girlfriend knew a lot of words, one of them was “Kochanieta”. Kochanie in Polish means ‘my love’, but kochanieta sounds so much better. I was glad we drove instead of taking the train as we kept listening to the news on the radio mentioning yet another train delay, all reports also mentioned Wrocław airport and its constant closure. We got dropped of by the main train depot and I took a bus back home that just happens to have a stop there as well. Coming back I could see just why the airport was closed, the bus driver couldn’t see a thing in this milk, not to mention landing a plane.

But I’m home now, and it’s time to finally get some real sleep. Goodnight.

UPDATE: On Friday morning, a full day after we took the taxi, all flights to Wrocław are open except for any to or from Warsaw. I’m not sure why that is, but it would have been no help to me at all had I still been there waiting for a flight.

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