Travel Journal (Day 8)
July 25, 2013

Travel Journal (Day 8)

This morning we had our last hours in Krakow. It was a planned quiet morning so people could sleep in, relax, and just enjoy the city one last time. And that is what we did. On the whole, most of the group of sixteen slept in, a couple went exploring, one went to the National Gallery, and I wrote and read while listening to the church bells chime. Sunday is church in Poland, so many of the local churches called their parishioners to worship. It was a beautiful sound.

Then we all showered, packed up, and readied to leave. This proved a little more difficult than other mornings for our group of rooms, which shared a shower and bathroom. The hot water heater had gone out, and the reception desk could not contact the guy who fixed it, so they just gave us a key to another shower. This was fine except when I was finished showering, I could not get the lock to unlock. It was tight and stuck, and I simply was not strong enough. This shower had a window out into the hallway, so I thought maybe I had a way out to go get help unlocking it. However, when I pulled back the curtains, it was barred with about six inches between each bar. Now, I am thin, but not that thin.

I must admit panic set in a bit. But this is part of traveling. Things happen, and we have to improvise. So, I calmed down a bit by taking deep breaths and then went back to try unlocking the door. Still, I had no luck. Before I started screaming for help, waking up strangers in this group of rooms, I went back to the window to investigate closer only to find that one of the bars on the bottom left had been removed to leave about a 12 inch gap. With some maneuvering (and a bit twisting and turning) I was able to slip through it quickly and go back to my room for help. We were able to unjam the lock from the outside, and those who followed did not lock it, so we all showered up and felt refreshed.

After checking out, we strapped on our packs and made our way closer to the bus station, so people could do a little Krakow shopping. About half of our group shopped while the other half had a light lunch and talk time. We met at about 2:40pm to walk to our bus. Here we experienced another travel snafu. The bus company had overbooked our bus, so they were trying to split us up onto two busses, one that left about 15 minutes after the other. However, we had paid reservations, so our tour director set to work. Within minutes, he had it fixed. We all left on the same bus.

I tell these stories to illustrate that traveling often brings moments of struggle. Sometimes it comes in the form of a locked door while other times it comes via overbooking of the bus. When traveling, we must be ready to problem solve, to speak up for ourselves, and to be flexible as necessary. Sometimes things just get befuddled. It is important to be able to work through these and not let the little moments of frustration and struggle overshadow the overall experiences we have.

Our next stop is Zakopane, Poland, a mountain town much needed for refreshing and contemplation. After the emotion of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we need time to reconnect and feel positive energy. Zakopane is perfect for that. With a little hiking, mountain air, star gazing, and just quiet time, we can learn much from our experiences thus far while also preparing for the next week of travel, which includes Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austria. Much still to come!

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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