I left Krakow at 8am to catch my bus to the border town of Cieczen. The town situated three hours by mini-bus from Krakow was a beautiful mixture of Polish and Czech architecture (nearly identical). The walk across the city took an easy 45 minutes and left me with an hour and a half to catch my Direct 4 hour train to Prague. I waited, having a brief lunch in a restaurant in Czech before gearing up and catching my train (30 minutes late) to Prague. 15 minutes later, the attendant comes into my compartment and asks where we are going (without speaking any english). I figure out something is wrong and say “Praha”, “Prague.” She shakes her head and said no no no…. no praha. No. points out the window and motions to get off at the next station. Confused I ask her why, she doesn’t understand but keeps telling me to get off at the next station and says – NO Praha.
Chuckling to myself at the wonders of travel, I get off the train at the next station only to be ushered onto a bullet train right next to the one I’d gotten off. The problem? The train I was put on was going to Polom. Sweaty, Hot and severly lacking airflow the entire direct train packs onto the already full Polom train. with people sitting in the aisles and standing in the door corridors we ride for another hour – the beleaguered air conditioning not able to cope.
Sweaty and miserable we’re then ushered off the train at Polom and pushed like cattle onto buses. Again too few buses too many passengers. with people standing in the aisles on the big coaches we head toward another city. Without direction other than clerks pushing us toward the next destination I feel lost and unable to get my bearings. I threw myself to the wind and just enjoyed what little I could during the travel. without airflow, stuffed human beings in tin cans raise the humidity level considerably.
The buses arrive at a bus station in a town I’ve never heard of and couldn’t find on my map and they point down the street saying Praha. without knowing it, ten minutes walk down the street we find (much to our delight) the Train station. we wait for a 45 minute late train which should connect us to Prague. From there its 3 hrs to Praha, we’ve already been traveling for four since the border town. we board the train, again unventilated with only small windows at the tops of the car just in time to miss another summer torrential downpour. Humid and rife with the smell of humanity we pack into the train cars and fit 8 people to a cabin with people still out in the hallways. The train takes another 7 hours to arrive in Praha at 11:45pm. We’ve been pushing since 8am.
The problem was that due to the catastrophic flooding which is apparently unexpected for this time of year, many of the main rail lines were flooded or washed out. In addition 10 people had been killed by the flooding and many roads had washed away. Due to these problems, there were only a very few open rail lines to Prague. As if this wasn’t enough of a problem, a lot of the rail lines don’t connect until Praha, leaving the rail companies to have to bus their passengers between the lines. Then the Queue of trains trying to use the few open lines made for delays of up to 6 or 7 hours. It made for a wonderful time and a great day journeying to Prague.