Travel Stories

A travel blog for a long-term expat, backpacker, traveler, ESL teacher, and photographer. 

The Final European Trip

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I had planned this BIG trip for weeks during my days of being poor. (Being poor as in living on 3 dollars a day at Kuchnia Otwarta (the cafe I wrote about below)). I thought to myself, "Scotland, Ireland, South of France? Finland?" Dreaming upon dreaming brought me into a happy place. However, as my fantasies almost ALWAYS turn out, it didn't happen. Also, as I have learned, obsessively checking my bank account five thousand times a day doesn't change the amount of money in the account. (Hope that helps someone out someday, lol.. :P) The planning was originally for three weeks. As each day passed without money, one less place was on the travel list. When it came down to it, I had 8 days of travel time before my already booked plane ticket left Poland. So, as it turned out, I found myself having to choose between my fantasies. In the end, I decided to visit some friends I had not seen in a long time. So, Belgium and Netherlands it was!

I was finally excited to get going, do something, spend some money, and do the thing I love the most - exploring! Looking at flights, there was a relatively cheap one ($60 dollars) out of Warsaw Modlin. For those of you who do not know much about Poland, Warsaw Modlin is probably scum of the Earth airport. I've been to a lot of airports, but Modlin, fuck that. As a student, however, MODLIN it was! So, I pull an all nighter. At 4 AM, I take a taxi to the Krakow train station and I went to the lady at the ticket desk to buy my ticket to Modlin train station. The lady in Krakow INSISTED that Modlin Airport was closed down still and that I could absolutely not train there. She asked her colleagues who agreed and despite me showing my freaking plane ticket, she still thought she knew best. Can't wait until an electronic ticket machine replaces her job. Mean lady. Anyways, 4 AM, tired as fuck, and this lady was arguing with me. I found the ticket online no problem, so I knew it existed. So, eventually she called her headquarters, they told her she was wrong, and she gave me my ticket. Whatever, got on a train around 4 AM, and embarked on a 4 hour journey to Warsaw Modlin.  I took the long ass train to Modlin, get there around 9. From here, you have to take a 20 minute shuttle bus to the shitty airport. I got there no problem, checked in for my flight, take a look at the prices in duty free which are completely overpriced and shitty, and I sat down and waited. Within 30 minutes, Ryanair announced a delay for all of its outgoing flights. Cool. No sleep, delays, let's do this! Probably about 2 hours later, I'd say, we were forced to return our overpriced duty free alcohol, and sent outside of the airport to a shuttle bus that is supposed to take us to Warsaw's main airport, Chopin.

Breda

Bicycles in The Netherlands.

My flight to Brussels  was among the last flight group to get on the bus (probably 45 minutes of standing doing fucking nothing on a curb). The bus took over an hour and was scorching hot. Fuck. Fine. We got to Chopin and we had to re-check in everything. Being a non-EU citizen, I had to wait in line despite not having to check in a bag for an ID check. When I got into the really long security line, just as they checked my documents, an alarm went off on someone at security, and they stopped letting people in. They then told us to go over to Business Class to go through security, which we did, and after we waited 30 minutes, Business told us to go back to normal security. I was exhausted at this point and I really was hating people. When I did, FINALLY, get through, I learned about an extra delay and that we would be delayed until further notice. When people started asking for vouchers for food/drink, (which Ryanair is required to give under EU law at this point) they put us on the plane. Where we sat. For an hour and a half. Whatever. Fly to Charleroi, took a train for an hour and a half, got to Antwerp, Belgium, at 9 PM. THANKS RYANAIR FOR WASTING ONE OF THE FEW DAYS I HAD FOR TRAVELING.  Planes, trains, automobiles much?

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On the next day, I planned to meet two of my former roommates for a Turkish lunch in Breda, Netherlands. Els, the person I was staying with in Antwerp, had a city bike card so I could use any of the city bikes. The bike card crapped out when I needed to get to the train station, and I missed the only train for 2 hours. I then found an alternative and am sent to the northern part of the city to find a bus to Breda which I also missed. So I sat for almost two hours waiting for a bus on the side of the road. Anyways, I met up with my friends Sebastiaan and Luc and had a lovely dinner. The next morning Sebas had to go to work so I explored Breda before I took my train to Delft (another Dutch city). It was a beautiful city with a really nice park. I visited some nunnery houses that Sebas recommended and walked around the center as people were heading to work. Dodged bikes here and there. Not too much to see but enough to entertain me for about an hour. When I got to the train station, I learned that all direct trains in the direction of Delft were currently delayed. So I sat. Again. Wasting more time. An hour and a half later, I took the train and met my friend Bas. He and I did some lovely touristy things. He really had advertised the city in a bad way - I was not expecting the city to be as nice as it was with its many canals and beautiful buildings! The traditional Dutch pottery comes from this area and it was really cheap. There was cheese everywhere too. Mmmmmm. Bas and I went into a few of the tourist cathedrals which were mainly just touristy rather than actual, in use sanctuaries. I even convinced him to touristicly get inside an oversized clog. His next idea of entertaining me in Delft was to take me to a children's science museum, lmao. Basically we were competing with a ton of children over playing stupid science games. We wanted to get the most for our money so we put on some labcoats and did a science experiment with eight year olds, in Dutch. Yep, didn't understand a thing. We came in third place. I don't know about what. Lol.

Next day, I planned to meet two of my former roommates for a Turkish lunch in Breda, Netherlands. Els, the person I was staying with in Antwerp, had a city bike card so I could use any of the city bikes. The bike card crapped out when I needed to get to the train station, and I missed the only train for 2 hours. I then found an alternative and am sent to the northern part of the city to find a bus to Breda which I also missed. So I sat for almost two hours waiting for a bus on the side of the road. Anyways, I met up with my friends Sebastian and Luc and had a lovely dinner. The next morning Sebas had to go to work so I explored Breda before I took my train to Delft (another Dutch city). It was a beautiful city with a really nice park. I visited some nunnery houses that Sebas recommended and walked around the center as people were heading to work. Dodged bikes here and there. Not too much to see but enough to entertain me for about an hour. When I got to the train station, I learned that all direct trains in the direction of Delft were currently delayed. So I sat. Again. Wasting more time. An hour and a half later, I took the train and met my friend Bas. He and I did some lovely touristy things. He really had advertised the city in a bad way - I was not expecting the city to be as nice as it was with its many canals and beautiful buildings!

The traditional Dutch pottery comes from this area (it is blue and white like this.) and it was really cheap. There was cheese everywhere too. Mmmmmm. Bas and I went into a few of the tourist cathedrals which were mainly just touristy rather than actual, in use sanctuaries. However, they are worth mentioning because the kings of the Netherlands something like 40 of them are buried there. (see the tombs below). I touristic-ly got inside an over-sized clog (see below). His next idea of entertaining me in Delft was to take me to a children's science museum, lmao. Basically we were competing with a ton of children over playing stupid science games. We wanted to get the most for our money so we put on some lab coats and did a science experiment with a bunch of eight year olds, in Dutch. Yep, didn't understand a thing. We came in third place. I don't know about what. Lol.

Anyways, we went out in the evening to the city center and I tried Dutch food? I don't know. We went to a Turkish kebab place and I had something called kapsalon. lol. I think it was more like white-washed Turkish food than it was Dutch but apparently this is a traditional drunk food.

The night was lovely. We ended up in Rotterdam eventually and went to a club. I learned that Dutch people are ridiculously tall and I am ridiculously short. I realized that I stare at pretty much the entire population of the Netherland's belly buttons and that pretty much the difference between the Dutch men and the Belgian men are the amount or lack of gel in the hair. Lol. (I was with Belgians all night). The  music consisted of popular electronic and Dutch children's songs? I don't really know but it was weird and I think I had to be Dutch or Belgian to properly enjoy the DJ?. lol. Who kept screaming. STOP SCREAMING DJ, YOU AREN'T COOL, YOU JUST RUIN THE SONGS YOU'RE SCREAMING DURING. Yes, and country roads did play. Why is Country Roads by John Denver so popular!?

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Whatever. Next day, went back to Antwerp. Els took me out for Belgian food and we hung out in a bar. I ate copious amounts of kip curry (chicken curry) and krab salad. I bought sugarbread and speculoos that I pretty much ate with a spoon all the way through. Noms. Noms. Noms. I then stuffed what I didn't shove in my mouth into a shampoo bottle so I could bring it back for Susan. It took a long time. No idea how she will get it out.

Antwerp has a large shopping street called the Mier. Els took me there and I bought many unnecessary things. In the evening, Bas picked me up, and we went to my other Belgian friend's home in Zedelgem, Belgium. This village is also in Flanders and it was the home to a giant village club party that evening - which also happened to be the evening of daylight savings. Michiel introduced me to a ton of his friends which completely overwhelmed me. Why, you wonder? Because you have to kiss people every time you greet them in most European countries and each time it seems to start in a different direction, or a different number of times, and fuck, I just love my own personal space and yeah. Pretty much sums up that feeling. PERSONAL SPACE. HERE IS MY HAND. SHAKE IT! I drank copious amounts of kriek, which provided me with a pretty decent hangover for my trip home. Also, it seemed like the night was the longest night on Earth in that it was daylight savings so an hour was given and that is quite confusing to a drunk person, i'll tell ya! It was a fantastic night, however.

The next day, battling the urge to barf, I went to the Antwerp train station, and headed back to Brussels Charleroi (which is probably the second most scum of the Earth airports) for a wonderful trip with Ryanair again. Lovely Ryanair. The best airline ever. Of course, when I arrive, this time hungover, I learn that I once again, had a delayed flight. This time for two hours. Considering it was a later flight, this caused me to miss the last bus to Krakow and get me stranded in Wroclaw for the night. Unlucky me.

In conclusion, the trip was long due to the transportation. The time with my friends made up for the shit trip transportation. That's for sure.