As you know, I love to write about my travels, but for some reason I didn’t write about my trip to Krakow in 2007. It may be five years late, but today I’m reminiscing about Poland’s second city…
For a short while, there were passenger flights from Coventry Airport (yes, there really is one) to cities throughout Europe. Thomsonfly and Wizzair were the two airlines that had destinations from my hometown – I’d been to most of Thomsonfly’s cities, but Wizzair was a little more interesting, with some tasty choices across Eastern Europe.
Which is how, a few weeks later and £25 each lighter, Kat and I found ourselves at Katowice airport in the south-west of Poland. There were no flights from Coventry to Krakow, but Wizzair provided a shuttle bus for £10 to take you on the 90-minute journey from Katowice airport to the centre of Krakow.
There are two things that spring to mind when I think back to that weekend:
1. Most Brits spend their evenings in Krakow drinking strong Polish lager and necking vodka. But not us! Walking back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing, we noticed a billboard advert to see Nigel Kennedy, the eccentric Aston Villa-supporting violinist, that night at the Krakow Philharmonic Concert Hall.
We looked at each other and both said “Yes, let’s do this”.
It was a totally different experience for us – an evening of high culture, as opposed to high alcohol content. We were the only tourists in the rather stuffy concert hall, and felt quite scruffy in jeans, amongst the Poles in cocktail dresses and dinner jackets.
But then Nigel came on stage with his trademark quiff, wearing a Villa shirt and baggy trousers with a massive hole in the bum!
2. After boarding the Wizzair shuttle bus back to Katowice airport, I looked out of the window at the beauty of Krakow for the last time, before we approached the motorway outside of the city limits.
This was the moment I realised I’d left my passport in the safe in the hotel room. AAARGH!
I had to yell stop to the driver, who pulled onto the hard shoulder and let me off the bus. He was on a tight schedule, so there was no way he could wait for me. I bid a tearful goodbye to Kat and told her I’d see her very soon, before running back to Krakow and heading for the hotel.
My passport was still there, but now I had to somehow travel the 45 miles back to Katowice and hope I could still catch my flight.
The hotel ordered a taxi for me – there was no other way for me to get there in time. The driver didn’t speak a word of English, but had a smile on his face the whole way to Katowice. Whether he was laughing at my misfortune, or wondering what to do with the £85 he charged me I do not know.
Anyway, I just about made it to the airport in time to check-in, and three hours later I was back home in Coventry.
Maybe this bad experience is the reason why I never wrote a travel story about Krakow.
It pains me me when every man and his dog raves about how perfect Krakow is, when all I can think of is a violinist’s holey trousers and the most expensive taxi-ride I’ll ever take.