Sunday, September 1: On the way to Poland

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Binyamina train station

I'd planned everything to the last detail: train times - check; Polish weather conditions - check; suitcase packed, unpacked, repacked, shoes dilemma resolved - check; house alarm on, front door locked - check and, leaving my car outside my daughter's house for retrieval on my return from Poland, I walked briskly to the station. 

The train arrived on time.

It was pleasant to sit on the train knowing I'd arrive at Ben Gurion airport three full hours before my flight to Warsaw. It's so rare that I am captive to empty hours in which I can read, physically browse the duty free without any intent to buy, eat. But! Always expect the unexpected.  The train stopped 20 minutes out of Binyamina because the handicapped were holding a demonstration. And they were doing it across the railway lines.

I have much sympathy for people whose monthly stipend fails to cover their basic living expenses. More than sympathy - it's bad enough being handicapped without having the wherewithal to support your needs. Hell, I'm a pensioner and I'd demonstrate too if I wasn't so busy earning money to cover my monthly expenses. But sympathy morphed to outright anger as we hapless passengers sat in our immobile train, with no way to control the situation.

My stomach churned and my heartbeat was panicked. I was going to miss my flight. Maybe it's because we plan a visit to Auschwitz on our first day in Krakov, but I wondered if transported by time to a vastly different destination, if my body would be experiencing the same levels of stress as those caused by a mere thwarting of my travel plans.

The train moved a few meters into a station and we piled out. I saw several people with suitcases, which I took to mean they were on their way to Ben Gurion too. "Let's share a taxi," I suggested to a woman with an outsize suitcase. "Can't," she said, "I'm being picked up by friends. No, no room for you." I shuffled together with the disembarked passengers to the exit, dropped my ticket, almost fell over my shoelace. The universe is very unkind to me today. Once outside, there was one lone taxi, its driver surrounded by anxious people with suitcases. 

I cajoled, ranted and was finally allowed to squeeze into the back seat between a couple who was flying to Turkey. The taxi driver took an exorbitant amount of money from his desperate passengers and we crawled out onto the highway. It's Sunday morning; soldiers are returning to their units, kids are going back to school after a long, hot vacation and Sunday morning traffic jammed as people wend their way to work. But then the road opened up and we got to the airport a full two hours before my flight.

The universe has not had enough fun with me yet. The flight to Warsaw is delayed by four hours. What about the connecting flight to Krakov? That's delayed too. I'll arrive around midnight.

The airline gave me a voucher for pizza and a soft drink. I'd prefer a double shot of whiskey.

Monday: The first day

Monday: Auschwitz-Birkenau

Monday: Auschwitz-Birkenau (continued)

Tuesday: Chmielnik

Tuesday: DSS HQ

Wednesday: Lodz Ghetto

Thursday: Warsaw Ghetto

Friday: Warsaw, Okopowa cemetery

Friday: Polin Museum

Historical Snippets