Round Europe with a Brompton part 2: Prague and Poland

Post date: 
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
travel Europe sight loss

Part 2: Prague - Katowice - Krakow

 
On the second leg of Peter’s journey, his travels take him from negotiating hotels and taxis in Prague to eating giant hot dogs in Poland. 

Stage 4 - Prague 

 
I slept a lot of the way on the journey to Prague, as by that time I had really pushed myself. From Aberystwyth to Vienna, came to 1,776 miles. Plus I'd done the bike ride through the night. And things were about to go a bit wrong in Prague.
I was suspicious of using Taxis, yet I didn't know the Czech Capital. I used a taxi. The driver was using a smartphone. He told me, he would tell me what the fare would be. I couldn't see it properly sat in the back seat, so I was suspicious of him. Finally I got him to stop by the river. He charged me 1400 Krona. That was a lot of my currency. I couldn't prove it, and had to be careful. as my Brompton in its Bag was in the boot. I had to make a decision quickly. Pay. or risk losing my bike? I paid the money. I asked a Czech Woman in the Street, how much she pays from the Train Station? She told me no more than 150 Krona. I was right, I had been ripped off. In a situation like that, you've got to be able to pull yourself together fast. 
 
I did research the next morning on my Laptop about Prague Cab drivers. They're notorious for ripping off tourists.I told myself at the time, that could happen to a businessman in Bangkok. It happens.  I still needed to find accommodation for 2 nights. I eventually found a Hotel, and asked how much a room was? I was told 35 Euro's a night. That's a good deal for August. It turns out I was sleeping in the Red Light District of the City. I didn't care. The room was cheap, and I needed a place to sleep.
 

"As I cycle with sight loss, I have to be more aware than others."

As much as I adore European Coffee. The cups in Prague are so small, that I required more caffeine. Later that day, Starbucks became my new best friend, and ordered a large Latte. That hit the spot. i felt revived. Prague is magnificent, with its hills and cobbled streets. I felt every vibration cycling on them. There was a lot of traffic along the river road, so I got off the bike and walked.  As I cycle with sight loss, I have to be more aware than others. Prague was unfamiliar to me. I opted for safety rather than carelessness, when deciding which roads I could and couldn't cycle along. I made use of bike paths, when I could find them.
 

"Simply keeping some cash on me got me out of a potentially tight fix"

Before leaving Vienna, I decided to take extra cash from an ATM Machine. That turned out to be a good call on my part. Whilst sightseeing in Prague, I had a gut feeling that something was going to go wrong at the hotel with their machine. It did. When I got back to my hotel, I was asked could I find a bank, as their machine was playing up. I said to the man at reception, "tell you what I can do. I can pay for the room in Euro's and Pound Sterling". He agreed to it. I paid 35 Euros for one night, and £20 for the second night. Simply by keep some cash on me, got me out of a potentially tight fix. I could have looked for a bank, yet I was tired.  I think keeping a certain amount of cash, can be a safer option in case of emergencies. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

Stage 5 - Poland 

“Krakow was stunning. Standing in a large beautiful square, there were many people about, and horse-drawn carriages around.”

I reached Katowice several hours later than expected. Once again, I didn't have a place to stay. Rain was starting. The moment it became a little heavier, I began walking towards a building that turned out to be a hotel. I went up to reception, and asked how much was a room? The member of staff said 35 Euros. Shortly after reaching my room, thunder and lightning had started.
 
I went exploring Katowice the next day. I'd been to a Tourist Information the day before, and they assured me, there was a 5.30 am Bus to Balice Airport at Krakow. I got up early. My mouth was dry. No time for coffee, and I never normally move without caffeine. The bus for the airport never turned up. Yet there was a bus to Krakow. i thought get on it, and you're closer to the airport. I slept the entire way. Soon as I reached the airport, I went straight to buy coffee.
 
Another mix up on my flight home! I'd said at the travel agency, returning on the 16th. The 14th was on my ticket. I had to book another flight, as I couldn't reschedule. At least I had enough money to do it. I had planned to see Krakow, yet was thinking I wasn't going to get to see it. The lady at the Flight Desk told me, it really is a beautiful city, why don't you go in and see it. My flight home wasn't the next afternoon. I was well up for it. I thought, the adventure is still on. Caught the bus into the city, and found another locker for my bag. Before I knew it, was cycling along a bike path into the ancient part of the city. 
 
giant hot dog polandKrakow was stunning. Standing in a large beautiful square, there were many people about, and horse-drawn carriages around. I ate a huge Polish Hotdog with grilled vegetables, and two sausages inside.It was a beast - it had to be a foot long and kept me full for the remainder of the day. I was having to drink a lot of fluids. Finally by the afternoon, the thought of a cold beer entered my mind. I went up to a counter, and ordered a beer. The thing was, it was an Ice Cream Parlour. The pub was next door. When I got the beer, I sat at a pavement table on the other side of the street.  That beer felt like nectar, as it went down my parched throat. It was just the tonic to bring me back to life.
 
I passed the time at Balice airport browsing social media. I was surprised to see a member of the Brompton folding bicycle community who writes blogs about the bikes, had sent me a personal email through Facebook, on how he had enjoyed my journey. The email went onto say that, the trip was inspiring his daughters to go off Interrailing. I had never expected that. I was only going away for a much needed holiday!
 
I eventually got back to the UK later that day. When I got home, somebody on Facebook posted that I was an inspiration and a trailblazer. I thought, are they talking about the same person? I wasn't used to hearing things like that. It's the journey that inspired me, and has encouraged to keep travelling with my Bike and use technology to photograph wherever I go. Since then, I have travelled around Wales on behalf of RNIB Cymru as a Forum Representative and have done bike rides in Birmingham and London. I hope to do many more. 
 
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The next part of Peter's blog will be online next month. If you'd like to share your story or are interested in writing a guest blog, you can email us at connectstories@rnib.org.uk, or click the button below. 

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Useful links

If you’ve been inspired by Peter’s story to take a trip of your own, there are lots of resources to help you plan your journey safely. 
 
Visit Disability Horizons or Gov.uk for advice on travelling as a disabled person. Tourism For All campain for holidays to be accessible for everybody and have many other useful ideas. 
 
Interraill offer rail passes around Europe, as well as travel guides on top destinations for your trip. 
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