Trains, Taxis and a Plane

Today we said Do Widzeniato Poland and Guten Tag to Germany.  We left the lovely Boutique Bed and Breakfast in Warsaw at 7 am, and arrived at Leonardo Hotel Weimar at 5 pm.  I do have to give a shout-out to our Warsaw B&B – they are the only place in Warsaw that offers live Chopin concerts for its guests.  We enjoyed a classical piano/Chopin concert by a wonderful graduate student in music.  She was so talented  and there were only 12 of us in a small salon the way Chopin liked to perform.  Wine included.

We flew the largest plane in the Lufthansa fleet leaving the states so it’s only fair we flew the smallest plane in the Air Berlin fleet leaving Warsaw.  It was so small it had propellers and I could watch the landing gear out my window touch down in Berlin on a wet, gray day. I have to give the Germans credit.  It was a touch of class when we were handed chocolate hearts as we exited the plane.  We eventually made it to the main train station to buy tickets to Weimar.  My mind forgot any German I learned except Guten Tag and Bitte.  But we’ve found if you stand in front of a bus schedule long enough with that lost, stupid, tourist look, people eventually offer to help.   We arrived in a huge modern train station, and it smelled heavenly.  Really.  The food court had several bakeries that were outstanding.  I splurged on a huge streusel something that was one of the best pastries I’ve ever had. (Ok – I only ate half but I will still need my gym training sessions when I get home.) 
So far German trains have run on schedule within 3 minutes, the first class train was wonderful and had velvet shocks – you barely felt movement.  Conversely the Polish train from Krakow to Warsaw was 40 minutes late and we sat knee-to-knee across from each other in the tight first-class compartment. There was no escalator or elevator to help haul luggage up and down levels; Germany has escalators.  Don’t ask me about the train bathroom on the Polish train.  However, as we’ve switched from zlotys to Euros it’s apparent that Germany is also way more expensive than Poland.  Train station bathrooms are spotless – but it takes a 1 Euro coin each time you go in.  In Poland Wi-Fi and breakfast are both included in the hotel rate.  In Germany Wi-Fi is charged for every 24-hour period, and breakfast is 10 Euro per person (about 13.50 USD).  In Poland a short taxi ride is 16 zlotys, or about 5 USD.  Our short taxi ride to the hotel was 14 Euro, or 18.62 USD.  And I think the 3-hour train ride from Berlin cost more than double what the 3-hour train ride from Krakow to Warsaw cost. We do have a beautiful view of autumn hills outside our Weimar hotel.  But so far Poland wins. 
So why are we in Weimar, a small town in central Germany?  Because tomorrow we visit Buchenwald, ten kilometers outside of town, where Henry spent two and a half years.  Not many tourists intentionally include two concentration camps on a vacation itinerary – but then I’m not an ordinary tourist. 
Free travel tip – if you plan a trip to Europe don’t pack any suitcase heavier than what you can lift overhead to a train luggage rack, carry up four flights of stairs or race to catch a train with three minutes to spare. Trust me.

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