The Negative Side of Travelling: A Dreadful Personal Experience

Dark street

This is a personal experience from a layover in Warsaw Poland, I wrote about it on the same day it happened and today, I decided to share it here. It displays a side of travelling that is less beautiful but it is all part of life and the adventure.

How it started

Warsaw, Poland was supposed to be a beautiful 17hr layover but it turned out to be a real downer. A bad ending to an otherwise beautiful trip to Athens Greece. You know how you are having a bad day but then a dove passes by or a baby smiles at you and you find yourself smiling back, somehow your foul mood is lifted even for a second? Well, there was no such thing for me in Warsaw, Poland. From the moment I landed at Warsaw Modlin, to the moment I got back, it was one downer after the other, all of it on an empty stomach.

It all started when I landed in Warsaw Modlin. The airport is quite far from the city but I already knew this. There are three ways to get to the city centre. Taxi, which is the most expensive, ModlinBus, second most expensive but not by much and finally the train. For the train, you need to take a bus to the train station from the airport.

I took the third option because it was 7:20 PM and the next Modlinbus was at 8:10 PM, I did not want to wait around for an hour. After I paid for the train and the bus that takes me to the train station, I was given a receipt without a card so I was worried that it would be rejected so I left my seat on the bus to go clarify with the clerk. Turns out there was no problem with that but by the time I got back to the bus, I had lost my seat and had to stand for the entire bus ride.

At the train station, there was no one whatsoever to help with directions and the bus driver couldn’t even speak English. I finally stumbled onto a train headed to Chopin airport with the logic that it would pass through Warsaw central which it did, thankfully.

Inside the train, I meet this lovely but utterly ignorant lady from Belgium who all but tells me that I shouldn’t be in Warsaw and that people in Warsaw are racist, her words exactly were “I have been here a few times and I have never seen a coloured person”. Which was her way of telling me I was the first black person she had seen in Warsaw. We part ways but not before she tells me that I shouldn’t go to Brussels “since the city ain’t beautiful anymore with all the immigrants who have spoilt it“.

I had read that there was no racism in Warsaw so I wasn’t afraid of going there alone but her words stuck with me. That was how I came to notice that there were no “coloured” people in Warsaw. I have never felt so out of place.

Getting worse

So I get to the central station and I am hella confused. My main phone is already off by now but thanks God for my back up phone. So I google the hostel and get the directions. But the place was a maze. I walk around looking for the information desk. Seeing two mean-looking ladies who were utter bitches. I ask one of them where the train stop for where I am going to, is, and she yells at me “Train information only!” Despite my rising anger, I ask her again and she yells, “Train information only!” I was literally asking for train information. I realise I’m on my own so I trust Mr Google. Problem is that to move from 1 place you need to use underground tunnels… guess who loses GPS inside the tunnel??? Yes me. Problems keep piling on.

The information desk

Finally, I find the tram to the hostel. Not train as I had thought but a tram. It’s nearly 10 PM by now. I had a sandwich at Athens airport at 4 PM and I was hungry. My initial plan was to get something to eat at the Centrum, I could already see a big McDonalds sign and then go to the hostel. After all the hustle to just get to the Tram stop, I decided to just go to the hostel and get something there. Big Huge Mistake. As I would soon find out.

So I ride the 16 stops to the hostel. I alight and look around. There was no life whatsoever. I follow Mister Google along this dark road and I wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or sad that I was alone on the road. I arrive at the hostel and it’s nice-looking, the host greets me in Polish and I reply in English. And just my luck, he couldn’t speak a word of English.

The dark street

The lobby is full of men talking and laughing. I don’t see a single girl but I don’t let it get to me. The host shows me the room and asks me in Polish to choose a bed. (I only know what he means because he was pointing to the clean beds). I choose one that seemed private enough. He shows me the bathroom and explains everything in Polish surprise surprise. After that, he then asks if I need a towel in Polish again, I say no but he doesn’t get it. He spends the next 2 minutes looking for a towel at which I shake my head.

Even worser

When I get back to the room, there is a guy playing video games in his underwear, as if I wasn’t already creeped out enough. I go downstairs for the wifi password and ask the host if he sells any sort of food. He, of course, has no idea what I am saying. This other guy asks what I want in English, thankfully, and he tells me that they don’t sell food there. Woe to my food lacking, hungry stomach. Remember getting to the place was a ghost town. So there is no way in hell I am going back out there at night.

I then ask about early checkout and the English speaking guy says there is no problem and if I wanted a taxi I can ask either of the guys in the lobby. They were all uber drivers. This fact had me scattering back to the room where I had left my phone charging. The reason being, there are two ways which could explain why they were there.

One, they lodged there on their downtime, which could mean that anybody could walk in and out of the hostel as they please. Two, they live there. Neither of the two options gives me any comfort. I was sceptical about staying in hostels but Athens made me have faith in them. The idea that we were all travellers. Same mission in a way. And there is safety in familiarity. So to have local uber drivers living/lodging there would be breaking that familiarity. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think they were bad people and I have nothing against Uber drivers, just not what I need in a hostel a thousand miles from home. Not to mention, I was the only girl there.

I try ordering food online because I am hungry but the stupid Uber Eats App refuses my credit card after deducting some charge. I am so livid at this point.


After a while, I give up hope of getting any food and decide to sleep. It wouldn’t be the first time I slept without food and I doubt it would be the last. Sleep did not come easy despite being really tired from walking around Athens all day. And when it did come I had multiple nightmares because I was really uncomfortable, creeped out and basically feeling unsafe in the hostel. I wake up a few times in the night cursing at the time. I needed it to be morning already.

It is finally morning and I get to the shower and the place is vomit-inducing. There is water everywhere. Dirty sheets and towels left on the counters, and questionable clothes laying all around. I try as much as possible to spend the least amount of time there and not touch anything. I am of there out the soonest I can.

Back in the room, I pack my backpack quickly and double-check the bed to make sure I have everything. The host comes and asks in Polish if I slept well. I only know it because he does the sleeping sign with his hand and a thumbs up. I give a thumbs-up back because it’s the polite thing to do and even if I wanted to complain about my night, he couldn’t understand a word I said. He also seems nice despite the communication barrier.

I go downstairs and ask if I need to sign anything on my way out. After failed signs and failed google translate, I walk out the door, nothing signed. The street looks a lot better during the day, a lot less “the shining” and a lot more “suburbian”. The place was residential which explained why no one was around at night. I walk to the tram stop and take the next tram since I heard someone say it goes to the centrum.

Once I get there, I realise the centrum and central station really mean different things. And just my luck, I am in the wrong place. I follow the underpasses and my best friend Mr Google until I get the way to where I need to be which happens to be across a park. I can see the McDonald’s sign and my stomach is complaining heavily after having not eaten anything. The plan is, eat something, find out where to catch a modlin bus, walk around a bit and then leave for the airport for my flight back to Stockholm.

Almost hope

As I am walking towards the sweet, sweet M sign that represents Burgers and fries and glorious food, I see the Modlin buses parked, I decide to take a detour to confirm departure first then go eat. When I get there the guy says that the next bus with empty seats after the one he was selling tickets for was at 11.10 AM. My flight was at 11.25 AM. So I give up my dreams of eating food any time soon or even exploring Warsaw for an hour or two and leave for the airport at 8.00 AM. I would rather go hungry than be stuck in Warsaw for another minute.

At the airport, I buy some fridge magnets just to remind me of the terrible time I had in Warsaw. Then I go to look for food. The thing about hunger is when it is a choice, you don’t feel it much. But when it is a result of circumstances you couldn’t avoid, it feels worse. I find a nice but expensive restaurant. This part of the story is the only highlight of the trip. The bacon and eggs I ordered are really good. The fries are okay. But the Irish coffee is the best and boy, the server was generous with the Irish part of that coffee if you know what I mean😉. I guess the waiter noticed I needed it, a lot!

Unfortunately, and needless to say, I couldn’t eat past the eggs because I have some stupid nausea but nausea or not, I couldn’t leave the coffee.

From here I go to the boarding area, damn small airports and their security, which means having to remove my shoes. I get past security and I find that the lobby seats are all filled. My options are to seat on the floor or to stand. I choose to seat on the floor because I am too tired to care. When boarding time comes, we have to wait in the cold weather to get on the plane. The gifts that keep on giving. Nothing was proving to be good about my layover. Even getting out of the city was stressful.

I am now on the plane. The only good thing that comes out of the Poland layover is that it offers me a direct flight to Stockholm. Organised, lovely, beautiful Stockholm. Holds my room, Stockholm. Oh, how I have missed Stockholm. I spent 3 days in Athens and 1 night in Poland. I feel like the time in Athens was but an hour and that in Poland a century. GOOD RIDDANCE WARSAW.

I wrote this on the plane back to Stockholm, a depiction that travelling is not always glamorous. Most of the time we only share the beautiful pictures and pretty side of travelling. But even beautiful pictures can hold sad memories. This experience did not make me lose faith in travelling or hostels and I did it again, and the next time, the experiences were much better.

Warsaw Poland is a beautiful place. My experience shows only a small part of it. I intend to go back and redeem my memory of the city someday. Watch out Poland.

Beautiful Streets in Warsaw Poland
Warsaw Poland townhall

Read about the beautiful city of Gdansk, Poland here. Warsaw was a nightmare for me, but Gdansk makes up for it by being one of my favourite destinations ever. It wasn’t Poland at fault after all.

Facebook Comments

You may also like...