I had been looking forward to visiting Poland for quite some time, so you can imagine my excitement when I boarded my Air France flight to Paris, where I would connect to Prague and Krakow. But then the first (and only) mishap happened when my flight was held at JFK for almost three hours because of some problem with the taxiway or something like that.
The flight itself was uneventful. Air France service is impeccable, and I dined on fish and enjoyed some wine and then cognac after dessert, which helped me sleep for the remainder of the flight. The airplane was the majestic A-380, the world’s largest plane, and it was very much what I had expected. Upon arrival, I knew that I had missed my connection, and proceeded to the help desk to figure out what I had to do.
After about a half hour standing on line, I was told that there were no seats available and that I would have to spend the night in Paris – they would rebook me and set me up at a hotel near the airport.
As soon as I heard the news, I frantically tried to contact my wife, who had already been in Poland for a few days, but none of her numbers responded because her batteries had run out. Eventually, I was able to contact the front desk at our hotel in Krakow, and they informed me she had already checked in. Relieved, I took a shower and proceeded to the nearest train station to go out and see Paris, a city I had never visited before.
After about an hour, I reached the Latin Quarter across fro Notre Dame Cathedral. I was really hungry, since it was about 3 PM and the last time I had eaten was early in the morning on the flight. I walked around and after stopping at both the Cathedral and Shakespeare and Company Bookstore (not the same where Hemingway went to, but close enough http://www.shakespeareandcompany.com ) I settled at a table at an inexpensive café , where I ordered some wine and an appetizer. After finally relaxing for a while, I ventured into the Latin Quarter and browsed the different bars – eventually stopping at a Latin-themed dive where I made conversation with some Argentineans who were drinking there. I went back to the station and took the train into the wrong direction, but that was quickly solved and I safely made it back to my hotel at around 11 PM.
After taking a shower and sleeping no more than five hours, I went back to the airport and finally got to my flight to Prague, where I would wait for a couple of hours for my flight to Krakow. While waiting, I sat at their bar and drank a delicious hangover-curing Pilsner Urquell http://www.pilsnerurquell.com/flash/us and a bowl of Goulash.
Finally, it was time to board the plane, which was being operated by Czech Airlines. The plane itself was one of those small turboprops (an ATR-42) which I had never flown in. An hour or so later, I was landing in Krakow Balice airport. From the airport, I took the light rail to the downtown area, where Renata was waiting – what a sight for sore eyes she was.
We slowly made our way to the hotel, and after a quick nap and a shower, my Polish adventure was about to begin.
More to come soon…