Friday, June 28, 2013

From Amsterdam to Poland

Yesterday I made the journey from Amsterdam to Siedlce. I left the hotel about 7 AM with the intention of checking in for my flight and then having a nice breakfast at the airport. Well, the check-in part went well, but the breakfast not so much!

My flight to Warsaw went from the B concourse, which is an older part of the airport and doesn't have very many services. I also had to walk to Departures Hall 1, which is on the opposite side of Schiphol Plaza from my hotel. As I was making my way to the B concourse I realized I was seeing the opposite side of a business complex set of buildings that I had seen from my hotel window. Truly I think I walked at least 2K from the hotel to my gate for the flight.

In the gate area I found only a very small coffee shop, nothing like the restaurants on the Holland Concourse that one uses for international flights

. I had a cappuccino and one of the raisin buns that I find in Holland and like very much. Then I thought about the fact that might Kindle might not last through the whole day of travel, and backtracked all the way from Gate 31 to the top of the B concourse to see if the shop there had any books in English. Yes! I found one. I really like what I call British chick-lit, a style of writing that is very hard to find in the states.

The flight to Warsaw was uneventful. We were served a very good sandwich and beverages.

In the past 18 months the Warsaw airport has significantly expanded and it was long, long walk to baggage. After collecting my baggage I went to the ATM -- Bankomat in Poland-- and got more Polish currency. Then I went into the nearby Bistro and had a coffee and piece of carrot cake.

Then I started to my trek to using the train station at the Warsaw airport for the first time. Before exiting the airport I found a counter to buy a ticket for the train.
 Today, 4.40 Polish zloty converts to $1.33. It was another long walk to the train station, made even longer by some construction occurring about the entrance to the station, making a detour necessary.

The train station is very modern, being newly constructed.

I sat down beside the track announcing a 13:24 train to Warsaw Centralna.
video
When I heard the sound of an approaching train, I thought it was mine. However, it eventually pulled in to track 1 rather than Track 1.

No train appeared and then the sign changed for a 13:52 train. When that train appeared I thought, "Oh no! I have the wrong ticket." There are two train companies operating in Warsaw. The one shown above in the video and another with different painted cars. In the past I've found one had to right ticket for the train company or you had to buy a new ticket. 

When the conductor saw my ticket he went aside to a counter for a bit of time and thought he was writing me a bill for a new ticket. Instead on the back he had written the time I boarded I train. Perhaps I was to have cancelled the ticket somehow when I entered the station. If I get an explanation, I'll add an edit to this blog entry so interested readers may learn more about how the train works.

At the Warsaw airport I was proud that I managed to buy a ticket to Siedlce through an automated kiosk.

I sat down to write a text to Dorota to tell her I had the ticket and that's when I realized I had a different arrival time than we had planned. We did a set of texts back and forth and I finally boarded a train for the original time with the information that this ticket would work, but I would have to pay a 10 zloty change fee. (I had searched and searched the digital signs and paper signs for the train, thinking it was a train to Siedlce, only its final destination was Moskva Belarussia and I didn't notice this. I'll remember the next time to look at the PKP schedule online and learn the final destination for the train.) The excellent news is that when the conductor took my ticket he simply stamped it and handed it back.

I had a first class ticket and the car was divided into compartments. From Warsaw Centralna to Minsk Maz another woman was in the compartment. She exited in Minsk and 2 men and 1 woman joined me in the compartment. I knew there was no way I could get my luggage out of the compartment upon arrival in Siedlce without help, due to the fact I had to pass these people. In Polish I asked the man for help with the luggage. Before I could get to Please in Polish he was already assuring he would help.

Dorota's husband met me at the train and brought me to Hotel Janusz. I couldn't remember if this hotel wanted a passport for ID upon checking in, so asked. The receptionist smiled and replied, "No we know you." (People are often surprised at my volunteering and this is one way that volunteers get paid -- building relationships such as this. )

I got my same room back. It's lovely with a small sitting area, a huge bedroom and an en-suite bathroom.

I was hungry so I walked up the street to Cafe Brama and had a lovely dish of pasta.

Every time I see a lovely meal like this I am reminded of the Twin Cities bus driver who told me he couldn't take his parents back to Poland "because there is no food in Poland."

After supper I walked to the shopping center anxious to see the new addition that had started last year only to discover it's not there yet! I went to the grocery store and got a couple chocolate bars and bottle of water. In the nearby Rossman (American readers should think of CVA or Walgreens) I picked up toothpaste.

Then back to bed where I crashed early. It had been a very tiring day, and also I often find the second day in Europe is the most challenging day for dealing with jet lag. 



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