This may be the last time we can come to Poland as I fear we are wanted men. It all started this morning when we tried (again) to use public transport. We had worked out the walk to get to our (sort of) nearest tram stop, and the fact that we had to just go 3 stops to get to the centre. (Centrum as they call it here. Don’t confuse it with the vitamin supplements) We arrived at the tram stop and worked out which tram to get (they all seemed to go to centrum so you have to really do something wrong to muck up this trip). The only problem is that we couldn’t find a ticket machine.
I could see the tram approaching. Perhaps we could buy it on the tram. The tickets cost 3.40 zl (approx 72 pence) so I had my 10 zl note in my hand ready (ahh, the thrill of clutching a note that is worth just over 2 pounds, but has the power to buy you a pint of beer and still get change). As the tram pulled up I could see that the driver was in his own cabin (like they are on the Manchester Metro, and to be honest, every other metro in the world). I didn’t think he would appreciate me knocking on his door waving my tenner at him. We boarded and had a look around the tram, we could validate a ticket but there was nowhere to buy one from. Mum and dad had settled into their seats as they were safe. They could travel the length and breadth of the local transit system for free all day. Tickets, schmickets as far as they were concerned. As Karen and I were looking around wondering what to do, the doors closed and the tram moved off.
So there we were. Two fare dodgers riding rough shot over the system, defrauding the Polish authorities out of £1.44. On a Sunday as well!! The note in my hand was getting damp from my sweaty palms. “What happens if we get caught?”; “How can we explain this one away?”; “If I get arrested, who will make sure mum and dad get home safely?” At every stop I checked to see what people were doing (I didn’t see one person validate their ticket so either they all have passes or they are all fare dodgers). We continued our journey and I could see our destination, the Palace of Culture, looming large towards us looking more like a prison than it did before. Eventually my nerves got the better of me. “This is our stop” (it wasn’t, we were one early). I stepped out and smelt the sweet smell of freedom, which is this case smelt remarkably like diesel fumes. It’s a bit unnerving how the trams just drop you in the middle of the traffic.
I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder in case the Stasi were still in existence and had been monitoring me (note to self: ease off reading the le Carre novels. They are making you a wee bit paranoid). Then at lunch time, We somehow managed to be undercharged for one wrap (that was nearly £4.00! I was out of control). When we made our way back home we went via the metro (well it seemed rude not to use it least once). This time we found a machine and paid for a ticket. The ticket is transferable and could be used for up to 20 minutes. Hmmm, the metro journey was literally 5 minutes. Surely we could then get on a tram and get down to the river to have a look at that in 20 minutes. It was game on! We had to have completed our tram journey by 4:17.
As we crossed the bridge the clock on the tram flicked over to 4:17. We were criminals once again. We got off at the next stop (which admittedly we had planned on doing anyway) and once again escaped the long arm of the law. We walked back over the bridge and there we got our just desserts. The wind was so strong that we nearly got blown over. All 4 of us were frozen by the time we got home. See kids, crime doesn’t pay.