Friday, 7 December 2007

A day in Poznan

It's been a long week. The alarm clock woke me up at 5:00am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and today. The reason - to get Moni (and today Eddie too) to Roraty, the early morning Advent mass.

Once I'd dropped the children off today, it was off to Warszawa Centralna to catch a train to Poznan to address a conference. In the train, my soul was heavy; the weather unseasonably warm and rainy - global warming has taken hold. Below: Between Kutno and Konin, the Wielkopolska landscape from the train window brings to mind winter in Kentucky. All that's missing is white fences and some horses.

A few thoughts on Polish state railways, PKP's InterCity business. Inconsistency is the all around. On a train to Kraków the other month, there was an electrical socket for laptops between every seat in the second class compartment. Two weeks ago, the first class compartment didn't offer 0ne. Today, there were no electrical sockets for laptops anywhere on the Poznan train. The table-top lamps in the restaurant carriage had funny sockets (one round pin, two semi-circular pins) to stop anyone from plugging in their laptop. The message to business travellers, therefore, is mixed. If you want to work on the train, you may be in luck, or else, you may not.

A similar picture relates to alcohol. You cannot buy beer (other than alcohol-free) on the Kraków train. You can buy beer, whisky, vodka and cognac on the Poznan train.

Mixed messages to customers are a bad signal. PKP InterCity needs to adopt one policy on these issues and stick to it.

By late afternoon in Poznan the skies cleared and the sun emerged, soon to set. Before then, two buildings caught my eye as I walked back towards the station. It pays to look up when walking through a city. (Above, left:) A fragment of the neo-gothic Church of the Holiest Saviour* (Kościół Najświętszego Zbawiciela). (Above right:) Pegasus, the winged horse, atop Poznan's Opera House (Teatr Wielki im. Stanisława Moniuszki).

My train home, the Berlin-Warsaw express, arrived on time, a few minutes after the photo above was taken. It arrived in Warsaw 65 minutes late. No real reason given other than rumour and hearsay. "A person under the locomotive at Konin." "A crash on a level crossing ahead involving a minibus - 30 casualties." "An electrical failure." Of course, the real reason was not communicated, leaving us guessing. I felt sorry for the two passengers in my compartment with connecting trains to catch in Warsaw; their anxiety was growing by the minute as the train stopped and started the remaining part of the journey.

* The English translation implies more than one Holy Saviour. Indeed more than two. If there were only two, it would be Holier Saviour.

No comments: