With a long dreary three day weekend on the weather charts for Minsk and the only hope for some sunshine being a little cloud seeding by the government for the May 9th celebrations I thought I might pop over to Warsaw in Poland for a looksee. The 8.40pm train looked great getting me in at about 6am. As usual I cut things a bit fine before travelling and attempting to purchase my ticket 15mins before the train didn’t pan out so well. Negotiating my way to the front of the line with 5mins to spare the cashier said “you have to buy that ticket from the international cashier” pointing towards other windows with zillions of people waiting. Weighing up pushing my luck any further I decided I’ll settle for a dreary weekend and headed home.
While pottering around feeding on the last of the pelimeni and sour cream, surfing the internet and chatting on Skype with home (who btw thought it was hilarious that I missed my train) I noticed that there was one more train to Warsaw. This time it was just after midnight arriving at 8ish in the morning. With the trip back on again, bag still packed and family taking even more piss out of me I flew out the door with yet again time pressure to not miss my second train for the day.
My experience from earlier in the evening I managed to go directly to the correct cashier in the adjacent building to the main terminal (important information for catching a train from Minsk to Warsaw) where this time there was no line at all. Just one single cashier dimly lit in her booth alone in the huge building. Great I thought as I approached her again with only about 15mins to spare. Of course nothing is that simple in Russia or even Belorussia. It was her break!!! The dreaded ‘technichki perireef’ sign clearly noted on her window that from 1155pm to 0010 she was on technical break and not going to serve me. She did manage to tell me that there would still be plenty of time after her break and before the train to purchase the tickets and indeed there was, I finally made it.
Train wasn’t the newest but it was nice enough. Strange design almost European in design with three seats facing a wall with a small sink in the corner. The bottom row of seats turns into a bed as to be expected and the top bunk was permanently out. I didn’t mind the configuration as I didn’t have any surprise travel buddies to accommodate for my third train ride in a row. The one unusual, obviously soviet inclusion that I did get a kick out of was the apparent vanity cabinet above the sink. Upon opening it I found as to be expected in such a cabinet a mirror and a shaving outlet which came in handy for charging the notebook. The kicker was the neatly arranged and snugly clipped in vodka decanter and three shot glasses obviously carefully thought through to match the number of seats in the compartment.
The ride was pretty uneventful just the border crossing was a bit of a pain. It takes a good two hours with customs and immigration on both sides pretty intense as you could fairly expect crossing from the Russia to Europe. The worst is the 45mins of jolting and banging as they do some pretty serious work to get the wheels the right gauge for the tracks on the other side. I managed to get about three hours sleep after doing some urgent work as is usually the case as I head anywhere for days off or vacations.
More photos from a ‘Weekend in Warsaw’ can be found here.
Arriving at 8am Warsaw time I headed out of the terminal to the nearest 5* hotel. Not to stay of course, just to