Eight hours of train ride taking me to Krakow passed uneventfully sandwiched between one man with a calculator watch and another with a helicopter on his t-shirt. Arriving in the city at 11pm I found a bunk and settled down planning for a quiet night, however as is so happily often the case in hostels I was invited to share shots of vodka with two French men - Michael and Benoit.
I take little convincing to partake in an impromptu night out and so we headed in to town, found a nice cheap bar and befriended more French, some Portuguese and a frightening Bosnian man who looked like he had killed. It was even more unnerving that the killer didn't drink, when someone says they don't drink I automatically assume it is because they have been alcoholic and one sip would send them back to the bottle. The Bosnian claimed it was his Muslim religion but I wasn't convinced.
One of the French guys called Cool (confirmed by I.D.) was celebrating his 25th birthday by trying to get through 25 shots of vodka. Benoit was convinced that it was traditional in Poland to eat a mouthful of Herring after each shot so he ordered up a plate and insisted we didn't break the tradition.
'Really? But no-one else is doing it' I said,
'It's tradition, like tequila with salt and lemon' said Benoit
'I think you've made it up'
'Vodka, then Herring' Benoit was determined to shove a mouthful down my throat so I relented and went along with the 'tradition'. It wasn't pleasant.
The vodkas took their toll as the night drew to a close and my insistence that we only speak French meant the conversation slowed while I tried to form a sentence, when I did it invariably came back to me having a crocodile in my pencil case. Another topic that fascinates the French is why we say 'Cock a doodle doo' for a rooster crowing. The French say 'Cockarico'!
The next day feeling confusingly fresh I went out to see the sights. Krakow is as good an example of a European city as I have seen and my day spent exploring gave me an abundance of impressive architecture to enjoy. My favourite of the sights was a bridge with thousands of padlocks attached to it, most with couples names on them. Among the messages of love was one that simply said 'I hate you'. I liked that and I liked the city. One day wasn't quite enough and I bottled a visit to Auschwitz but there were more countries to see and I had decided to take the night train to Prague so that I could tick that off the list.
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