Every adventure has its setbacks, the trials you have to overcome as you blaze a trail into the unknown. Our’s arrived on the train from Krakow to Warsaw.
We were trundling along, minding our own business, just like this:
when the ticket guy arrived. And yes, there was a problem with our ticket. We were meant to be traveling at 2pm, but the ticket we’d been issued said AM. Great.
The train was largely empty so I wasn’t worried about our chances of getting another ticket. Still, the guy didn’t speak much English and when he went off to see what could be done, my sister and I exchanged rather nervous looks. We were in Poland after all, who knows what spooky laws they have here?? (I was getting flashbacks to the Italian transport horror story).
Ten minutes later, the guy returned with another man and signaled for my sister to come with them (she was the one with the ticket after all). I sat in the empty cabin for a second before realising I had no idea where they were taking her, and ran off to find them — leaving all our bags behind.
Everything was fine (why did they try to talk to her privately???) and they explained that we had to change seats (all the cabins were empty anyway??) and buy new tickets. They then went off again as we went back for our stuff.
We sat there, reading and eating chips as the sun went down.
We were without a valid ticket and still had no idea what would happen on our arrival to Warsaw.
A passenger from down the hall popped in, asking for something in unintelligible English. Money? No, our phone charger. 10 minutes, he promised. We handed it over, not expecting to see it again. And continued to wait.
Finally the two ticket officers wandered their way back into our cabin. They explained that we would have to pay 300 Polish złoty for new tickets. But, just for us, they’ll take only 200. Who were we to argue? We handed over our money. One of the men put his finger to his lips in a “Shhh” motion and they left.
Had we just paid a bribe? Well yea, probably. And we still had no ticket to show for it. It was weird, but also kind of exciting? I know that’s a stupid thing to say, but in three years of travel, I’d never encountered any underhanded fleecing (well, unless you count the tanneries in Morocco). Was I a real traveler now? I should really be more concerned with my safety.
And then, what do you know, the phone charger guy was back! With our charger! We had a mini celebration with him, laughing in our inability to communicate. “10 minutes!” he cheered, and we both applauded. He wandered off rather chuffed with himself.
We didn’t see the ticket officers again until it was time to disembark. The first one, who spoke no English, was on the platform as we got off. He nodded once in our direction before turning away. We hurried for the escalators and the exit.