When I organized a short two-night trip to Poland to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim I did not think about the possibility of travel delays or troubles. I had booked everything in advance: flights, hotel, and the guided tour. The only thing left was train tickets, which weren’t available for purchase online, and now I am glad for that!
My first flight was set to leave the London Heathrow Airport at 6:30 a.m. on April 6, landing in Warsaw, Poland at 10 a.m. with a connection to Krakow, Poland at 10:35 a.m. I had picked the earliest flights to Krakow in order to get there early in the day, before noon, so that I would be able to navigate by train to my hotel in the daylight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
- When I got to Heathrow Airport I checked the departure display only to see that my flight was cancelled and to contact the airline. Conveniently, there are no available staff for any of the airlines help desks from 6:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., so I found a cafe and waited until then.
- I was transferred onto the next flight to Krakow, set to depart at 10:15 a.m. with a connection to Krakow at 3 p.m. Unfortunately, the gate for boarding didn’t even open until 10:30 a.m., and the plane finally took off over an hour late at 11:30 a.m.
- The plane landed in Warsaw 30 minutes before the connection was supposed to leave. Had there been no line at border control, I could have made it, but I ended up at the end of a long line. Just as I reached the window and passed through, the gate closed.
- I got squeezed onto a flight to Krakow leaving at 6:40 p.m. because the next one was full. At this point, I’d spent 9 hours in Heathrow and the prospect of spending another 4 in an airport was not appealing, but surely this would be my last problem, right?
- When attempting to buy a water bottle, the cashier told me that she couldn’t accept the currency I handed her. I had exchanged currency at Heathrow to have 250 PLN on hand, so I was confused until I looked at the bill again and realized it was Croatian currency. I take partial credit for this mistake, but I was confident that the Travelex employee would double-check the bills, not hand me 200 PLN and 50 Croatian currency.
- Turns out Croatia has a poorer economy than Poland, and when exchanging the bill to PLN I ended up losing 30 PLN from my initial order.
- I was 2 minutes away from missing the 6:40 p.m. connection due to a mistake with my ticket where the system thought I had checked baggage. I stood at the gate for 25 minutes listening to conversations that I couldn’t understand a word of as I watched the clock tick closer and closer to departure.
Luckily, I eventually got to Krakow, and took a taxi to my hotel. That wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it after that day to be able to get to bed by 11 p.m. Despite a language barrier it wasn’t too difficult to communicate, and I am glad that I took advantage and planned the trip while I am on the continent. Thankfully the trip back to Hartpury was uneventful without a single delay! But as my first solo trip ever, and second time on a plane, this saga was more than I imagined.