Train to Warsaw

January 1st 2009. Krakow.

It was ten o’clock in the morning and DP and I had purchased train tickets for the three-hour trip to Warsaw. Most of the city was still buried deep beneath layers of white sheets and duvets, sleeping off the wild excess of New Years Eve in the old town square. We boarded, heaving my too-full suitcase up into the passage way, and made our way to our blissfully empty compartment. DP then proceeded to clean the outside of our window with soap and water… and a degree of thoroughness and elbow grease that this particular pane of glass had probably never experienced. He’s a man who takes his photography very seriously and he had no intention of allowing a little grime stand between him and a great shot of the Polish countryside. As the train began to tumble gently out of the station, I reached for my journal. I set out to record my impressions of Budapest (rough-edgy and cool and much beloved… this was our second visit) and Vienna (cafe life decadence… which I managed to sneak into our itinerary at the last minute with DP’s gracious approval) and Krakow (I encourage you to visit… it is loveliness itself!) My memory is quite poor and I rely on my collection of old journals and moleskins to tell me the story of my life. (Well, the details at the very least.)

The train station in Warsaw is not particularly attractive or welcoming. We walked around this concrete labyrinth for a while, dragging my ridiculous luggage behind us, until a very friendly woman working at a fruit stall directed us above ground. We emerged into blinding sun and snow and found ourselves at a Marriott where we caught a taxi. I’d like to tell you that the taxi driver was kind to us, that he reached out to a couple of foreigners… but I cannot. What I can say is that the place where we landed, the Duval Apartments in the heart of the Warsaw Old Town, more than made up for the chilly welcome. DP and I felt like we had come home. We walked through the snow and twinkling lights, ate Indian food in bed and wondered if anyone would notice if we stayed just a little bit longer…

What kinds of things do you like to do when you are on vacation that you may not have time or money to do at home?


  1. I love the photo of the journal with the pen!Most of what I do on vacation that I can't normally afford at home is time-related. I stroll. I window-shop. I sit in parks. I sit in cafes. These are all activities that have disappeared from my day-to-day life since I had children.

  2. Mara,I love that photo too. My little sister – the one who just got married – commented that it should be on a book I write about my travels. We'll see about that!I really liked your list of activities. When your children are a little older, I am sure there will be more time for the sweetness of cafe-sitting and coffee-sipping!@Heather on her travelsThe Duval Apartments in Warsaw were every bit as lovely in person as they look on the website. There are several flights of stairs leading up to the apartments but I know you're probably accustomed to that.

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