During my short-lived stint at unemployment I needed to find something to keep myself off the streets, so I decided to go a little Eat Pray Love on my ass and off I trotted to Eastern Europe…for one week.
‘How long have you been traveling?’ asked the many stinky backpackers who hadn’t set their hairy feet on home soil for over a year. I was far too embarrassed to tell them that I was a working professional who had just received a pay out and was on a comparably-luxurious week-long holiday. Plus I was concerned that honesty might make my new shoes go missing.
‘Oh two months,’ I would lie as I sat in a pile of shopping bags and typed away on my shiny new MacBook Pro.
I didn’t really discover much about myself like Julia Roberts did because I already knew I loved eating, hated praying and was happy in my non-committal relationship with a Kiwi builder. Basically my trip was about good food, nice alcohol, shopping and writing man-bashing blog posts.
Okay, okay, I did immerse myself in some interesting culture, walk through some intimidating ghettos and deepen my understanding of the sad modern history of Poland and Lithuania (visited Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and The Museum of Genocide Victims.) But that stuff is way too sad and serious for the likes of Comfort is for Wimps. Innit.
So anyway, guess what – it turns out you can catch an overnight coach from Warsaw to Vilnius, by yourself, without being chopped up into little pieces and sold as dumpling meat. Try Simple Express.
It took me just under 24 hours to make the trip from Krakow to Vilnius. It cost me €30 in total and saved me a night’s accommodation. And I had duck for dinner. The first leg of the trip was getting from Krakow to Warsaw and I booked through Escape to Poland. It was a cosy train ride in a little booth just like the one Harry Potter travels to school in. There were four muggles already occupying the 8-seater booth when I got there, which meant one of them was going to have me wriggling up next to them so that our knees rubbed for the entire journey. The old man’s face literally dropped when my allocated seat number ended up being next to his. I’m as happy about it as you are buddy, your breath smells like boiled eggs.
I knocked into all four people as I scrambled in with my excessive amount of luggage and Zara bags, but I followed up with four very polite British apologies and in return got four very rude European death stares. The scorning almost set me on fire when I pulled out every piece of technology I owned and surrounded myself with it.
The entire journey I kept catching the lady sitting opposite watching me. I’m not sure if she thought I was super pretty or if she was jealous of my sweet office setup. Or if she wanted me to drop dead.
I arrived at Warsaw Zachodnia around 5pm and much to my oh fuck I found myself in Where-The-Fuck-Am-I Warsaw. The train station was literally on a highway. On my side of the road behind me was rapeville bushland and on the other was a concrete jungle with loads of rapists pretending to be businessmen competing to get into the station.
I had six hours to burn before my overnight coach departed, so I knew I needed to find a pub to get drunk in and write a new blog post that would only get 0.05% of the views my Naked Yoga post did. It was starting to get dark and I was starting to worry about murder getting on me.
After using £5 worth of roaming data and walking 1000km, I found myself in a restaurant at the bottom of Blue City shopping mall. I was surprised to hear that it was Happy Hour considering none of the waitresses had souls.
‘What you want? Don’t speak English,’ the first one said as she strangled me with her eyes.
‘Don’t speak english. What you want?,’ the next one said as she chased me with a stick.
Five hours and some exhausting language barriers later, I was full of duck leg, four pints and maybe a few hundred millilitres of waitress spit. But Happy Hour was well over and it was time for me to stumble back to the station to catch my big old overnight bus.
The bus station waiting room was minging, man. It felt like me and a bunch of other unemployed humans were sitting around waiting to collect our midnight dole money. The walls were filthy, the ground was filthy, the chairs were filthy, and with the lack of Wi-Fi, I was filthy.
A man came in and started yelling something in Polish which I assumed meant everyone’s buses had arrived early and they were giving out free massages because everyone picked up their stuff and hurried out the door. I followed them only to find that none of our buses were there, there were no massages and he was just kicking everyone out to wait on on the streets because the waiting room was closing. BUT I HADN’T USED THE BATHROOM YET.
‘Oh my God, please may I just run back in and use the bathroom quickly?’ I said trying to shoulder barge past the big man.
Grunt. Grunt. Something in Polish. ‘No.’ Waves me away.
‘Oh God, please, please.’ Barge. Barge.
Grunt. Grunt. Something in Polish. ‘No.’ Waves me away.
I sat at the bus stop for 45 minutes, drunk and sulking with my legs crossed until the coach arrived.
Did you know that coaches these days are like aeroplanes? With their fancy toilets and in-flight entertainment (on the screens on the back of chairs). Posh as.
I watched Forrest Gump for the first time in my life that night. I know. It’s such a funny movie. In case you didn’t know. And I’m so glad I can finally relate when people tell me life is like a box of chocolates and shit. But I’m a bit scared of being shot in the buttocks now.
So compared to the exhausting and at times uncomfortable journey to get to the actual overnight coach between Warsaw and Vilnius, the remainder of the trip was alright. The girl who I instantly hated for sitting next to me, well her in-flight entertainment broke when I wished really hard that it would with my mind. She ended up moving and I got to lie down. I got hungry in the middle of the night and felt saved by the sandwich I had purchased while waiting for my dole cheque. But unfortunately it had last year’s chicken in it so I went hungry.
That is of course until we arrived in the morning and I found a McDonalds, which shone like water in the desert because I wanted the Wi-Fi so badly. They didn’t have a breakfast menu and the cheeseburger patty tasted suspiciously like processed solo-traveler meat.
Vilnius Old Town Instragrammed