First of all, I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to the lovely Matt and even more lovely Urszula for doing an amazing job in making Euromeet 2010 such a great success. Still don't know how you managed to bring it all together, but you did - and with consumate ease. I salute you!!
Well, I very nearly survived Euromeet 2010. My doctor says I should easily make a full recovery within 6 months.
After returning home a shadow of my former self, some members (including staff) thought it'd be funny to read an account of my thoughts and experiences. Can't promise that it'll be funny, or even remotely interesting. It's honest though. In fact, it'll probably be boring for those of you who weren't there. To get a more insightful view of the Euromeet, you'd do well to leave my homepage now and log on to just about anyone else's homepage who was actually there!
I have very poor journalistic skills - I know that the restaurants were great and the bars were a blast, but I'm afraid I haven't a clue where we ate or drank; I left my navigational skills at the airport and simply followed the crowd. Unfortunately, this didn't always work to my advantage. After one group meal in the evening, I was told by one of the gang to meet up with a group who were all going to the same bar that I had been drinking in the previous night. I happily agreed, but within minutes of them leaving the restaurant (which was by now closing), it dawned on me that I didn't have a clue where I had actually been the night before - I remembered what it looked like inside but I had no idea where it was, it's name, or what it looked like from the front....and there's millions of bars in and around Krakow's square! Alas, it was an early bath for me that night!
To hopefully minimise your boredom, I've whittled down my Euromeet experience to a few "handy hints" and observations.
Beware of blokes trying to get into your bedroom
I was staying in a B&B somewhere off Krakow's main square. I had a twin room to myself with ensuite. I think the building was really a multi-storey mobile home, cos it kept moving location every time I left it! I really should have used a map instead of leaving it to gather dust in my suitcase.
Anyway, I'd just taken a shower after returning from a tough trip to Auschwitz, and was getting ready for the Euromeet evening meal. I was towelling myself dry (fortunately I had my jeans on) when I could hear a key slowly unlocking my door from the outside. I grabbed the handle and quickly opened the door to be greeted by a bloke who looked a bit fed up to see me.
"I'm sharing with you" were the only words he grunted.
No way, I wasn't having that!
I think he might have been a little more cheerful if I didn't have an Adam's Apple and body hair - I wasn't quite the room-mate he'd probably hoped for. Mind you, I wasn't exactly opening the Champagne to see him either!
I took hold of his key. The key ring showed that it was for another room in the block- definitely NOT mine. All rooms in that part of the building shared the same key!
So, for any 'wannabe' burglars, stay where I was; you won't need to bring your lock-picking gear with you. Your room key will work just fine with all the other rooms (at least in my part of the building).
(Bet you don't get that level of info in the "Lonely Planet" guide books)
Tour Guides talk for a reason - it ain't because they like the sound of their own voice!!
A visit to the salt mines is a worthwhile excursion. After walking down countless steps, you enter a maze of corridors with HUGE wooden doors positioned at strategic points along the way.
Before we started the tour, the guide told us that owing to the size and weight of these doors, when we open one, we must not let go of it until we are sure that the person following us has got hold of it.
To my cost, the VT'er in front of me was either preoccupied (probably filing their nails!) or just waaaayyyyy to dizzy (unquestionably the latter!!) to listen to the guide!! To avoid any public humiliation here, I shan't be mentioning this guilty person by name. (There you go, Nathalie - I told you I wouldn't mention your name!)
Anyway, this unnamed VT'er either thought that I was right behind them, or that I had gorilla arms that could reach the door 10 feet in front of me. The door unexpectedly swung towards me and hit me in the face. THUD!! Had my foot not taken most of the impact, there'd be an imprint of my face still on that door. It was only when I took a hot shower a little later that evening that my nose started swelling up 'big-style'. Good job I had my first aid kit with me. I applied a cold cream compress to it, strapped it down tightly with tape, and headed off to meet up with everyone (no idea where!) for evening buffet and drinks.
Never judge a book by it's cover
The guilty VT'er thought it was hilarious when she, err... I mean 'they' saw my nose strapped up. They were flying back home around 4am the following morning, and it was already approaching midnight!
What, laughing at my expense?!! This was my opportunity for payback (or so I thought).
The least I could do for such an obvious lack of remorse was to fill this person with enough drinks that they'd feel rough all the way home. Better still, they might get detained for attempting to board a plane whilst roaring drunk. Either scenario sounded pretty good to me! Well, they do say revenge is a dish best served cold. Even though I'm no big drinker, I was probably twice their weight so I felt quite sure I could cope with the drinks that were coming our way. That was my [what I now know to be misplaced] logic.
Alas, I couldn't handle the drinks. They were coming to fast, and from all directions. Those vodka's with Tabasco sauce and raspberry?? Enuf said! Whilst 'they' left the bar (with probably less than 2 hours to catch their flight home) bright eyed and bushy tailed (an English expression), I was left in ruins. I received my immediate Karma that night!
Nursing the mother of all hangovers, an uncomfortable bruised nose and the cumulative effects of 4 days of sleep deprivation, I wasn't exactly at my best to take on the "SATAN EXPRESS" to Lviv that lunchtime.
Forget the train
When in Krakow, I'd definitely recommend a trip to Lviv. There are really only 5 ways to get there. I list them in order of preference:-
Option 1 (Best option) Share a car or thumb a lift with locals, because hire cars aren't allowed to cross the border.
Option 2 Consider buying a cheap bike and cycle there.
Option 3 Walk there - if you can cope with the blisters.
Option 4 Steal a local's car. Don't steal a hire car - you'll be wasting your time.
Option 5 Catch the train (but only as a last resort if you really can't face doing 1,2,3 or 4)
Maybe I wasn't exactly in tip-top form that day. However, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming hatred for that uncomfortable piece of pig-iron that they called a TRAIN!..........And to add insult to injury, that return journey cost me more than my return flight from the UK to Krakow.
Top chefs always tell us that good food must be made with love, not hate. That delightful piece of engineering was definitely designed and built by people who had an overwhelming loathing for their fellow man. I mean, they couldn't even fit wheels onto it that work on both Polish and Ukranian tracks. What's going on there?! It should really be returned to a furnace, melted down and turned into something more useful - like skips, or lamp posts,... in fact anything but another train if that's the best they can do!
To my amazement, Stace actually enjoyed it so much, it stirred in him a desire to travel more by train. Errr,.... ok. Whatever floats your boat, I guess! He wore a look of sheer contentment on his face whilst I was busy developing the frown lines on mine! I don't know what he was smoking that day to feel like that; it couldn't have been his regular brand of fags - me thinks he was on the "wacky backy" the entire 10 hours. Wish he'd have shared some of it with me - I'd have happily paid a king's ransom for just one lungful if it meant I could get to his "happy place" too!
I didn't expect to sleep on the train even before I boarded it. Think I must be clairvoyant.
I was on the top bunk. Couldn't fit - the angle of the roof meant my feet had to dangle out of the bunk. My sleeping partner (not in the biblical sense) was on the bottom bunk, and was a great sleeper. Trouble is, their capacity to sleep was dwarfed by their capacity to snore. My cabin buddy was simply a walking sinus.
I tried listening to my iPod to chill out. No good. All I could hear and feel was the snoring, assaulting my eardrums and travelling through my body, vibrating my internal organs. Tried using my ear plugs. Maybe it was just coincidence, but they fell out of my ears on one particular bellowing roar that came from below. Enough was enough - it was time for me to escape from my bunk. I climbed out of it ever so slowly, so as not to wake them. It must have taken me at least 5 minutes! My actions were probably like the chap in that "secret lemonade drinker" TV ad from the early 70's. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's the YouTube link. Enjoy!
I needn't have worried about disturbing my companion - my 13 stone bulk could have landed on them with full force and they'd have just rolled over, let out a big yawn and carried on snoring.
Some VT'ers simply refused to use the toilets because of the stench of stale bodily deposits (don't know how else to put it!). I suppose 70 years without bleaching will play havoc with any loo. I was brave - I used them twice; the first time I only had socks on my feet. The floor was damp and sticky, so I didn't hang about. Clearly, it had been used over the years by too many blokes with an appaulingly lazy aim - and quite possibly a few ladies who simply refused to sit!
Ventilation was fine - you could slide the windows down and enjoy the breeze......... until dusk fell. If you had the lights on and windows down, the mosquitos were attracted to the carriages and saw you as a tasty treat. A few of us got bitten - I got attacked on my forehead.
So, is there anything positive to say about that train journey? Well,... yes.
Going to Lviv, the female Ukranian passport/border control officers were truly stunning. One with mascara and flowing black hair, the other neither wore mascara, nor needed it. Both of them were of Catwalk standard. Dressed in full combats, they looked like their military attire was just concealing a little black party dress underneath! The lads on board will all agree with me on that one - we all passed similar admiring comments (quietly though!). Even some female VT'ers couldn't help but notice them!
The prospect of getting myself arrested just to get off that train did cross my mind.....fleetingly. Could I have been lucky enough to get a personal escort back to Krakow by one of those military ladies? Yeah, in my dreams! Knowing my luck, I'd have been locked up in some all male Ukranian slammer, having to face prison showers. And you know what they say about them....if you drop the soap, it stays on the floor!!
Alas, on the return trip, the 'female' passport/border control officer (again, in full combat gear) didn't quite share the same gene pool as the earlier ladies - more like a grimacing shot-put champion...with a less than flattering hint of 5 o'clock shadow (YIKES!!). Our high expectations were cruely dashed. Added to that, I had an aggressive customs bloke who barked orders at me that I couldn't understand. I told him twice that I didn't have a clue what he was saying. I know I was wasting my time, cos his English was even worse than my Ukranian....and I can't speak a single word of it! Using sign language, he got me to strip my bed, overturn my bunk, pull out drawers (that I didn't even know existed) from beneath my bunk, and did a thorough search of my suitcase. I may be paranoid, but I'm not entirely convinced he liked me. I'm glad the first thing to greet him in my suitcase were 8 pairs of used boxer shorts and countless sweaty socks that could have stood up and walked out of the cabin by themselves. Bit of bad luck he was having; I'm not sure it did much to improve his mood.
Lviv was worth all the aggravation though. I loved the place - gritty, ageing beauty and a fascinating history. Even though a part of Europe, Europe felt a long way away. Had 2 great nights out in Lviv (or was it 3?). Would love to go back, if only to revisit one particular 'secret' military bar, where you had to answer a secret code and drink a shot of [free] vodka before entering. We all loved it there. For that night alone, I forgave the train.
So, my first Euromeet is over. Being a little shy, I found the massive group a bit overwhelming at first - it took me 2 attempts to register at the pre-meet. On my first attempt, the room was crammed full of VT'ers busily getting reacquainted, laughing, hugging and engrossed in conversation. Didn't feel confident enough to infiltrate it, so I retreated back to my room for a while until things quietened down, which they did. I needn't have worried though - the people I met were so welcoming, and I thoroughly enjoyed their company.
To all of you who I met, you made it all so worthwhile for me. Would I do that trip again, to go through all those experiences (incl the slammin' of the door)? Yeah, in the blink of an eye - train too (that's if I couldn't find a half decent local car to steal).
Thanks for looking in.
"That's all Folks"
Explore the World
- United States of America
- Bukit Batok Town Park Hotels
- Fort Walton Beach Hotels
- Lukut Hotels
- Kuala Lumpur
- Hong Kong
- Cumbayá Hotels
- Riva del Garda
- Chums Corner Hotels
- Antelope Island Hotels
- Lloret de Mar
- Ho Chi Minh City
- State of Jammu and Kashmir
Share your travels with the world!Join Now!
- No VT rank yet.
- Real Name
- England, United Kingdom
- Member Since
- Jan 22, 2010
- 0 Reviews
- 6 Photos
- Add Friend
- Send Message
Badges & Stats
- 0 Reviews
- 6 Photos
- 0 Countries
- 0 Cities
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (1)
- Commented on yumyum's profile page
- DavidGB and TheTravelSlut are now friends.
- Posted in Travel Marbella Forum "Re: Please help :("
- Uploaded a Video to Oahu
updated their Profile Page "Welcome"
- Uploaded a Photo to "Welcome"
- Paris Hotels
- 22461 Reviews - 54973 Photos
- Dubai Hotels
- 2701 Reviews - 7925 Photos
- London Hotels
- 23317 Reviews - 48909 Photos
- New York City Hotels
- 15643 Reviews - 31276 Photos
- Prampram Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- Manila Hotels
- 2025 Reviews - 4971 Photos
- Orlando Hotels
- 3092 Reviews - 5855 Photos
- Cancún Hotels
- 1933 Reviews - 3724 Photos
- Baguio Hotels
- 328 Reviews - 894 Photos
- Punta Cana Hotels
- 422 Reviews - 1020 Photos
- Playa del Carmen Hotels
- 780 Reviews - 1749 Photos
- Rome Hotels
- 12023 Reviews - 26760 Photos
- Goa Hotels
- 2058 Reviews - 3874 Photos
- Bangkok Hotels
- 10315 Reviews - 22905 Photos
- Istanbul Hotels
- 7828 Reviews - 20233 Photos