Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taxis in Lublin

Remarkably, all of the taxis I could find waiting for me in front of the Lublin train station listed at least 4 zloty/km and 60 zloty/hour fees. I had to take one of these, for lack of alternatives, and paid 46 zloty for the trip to my hotel. By the time I had to go back to the train station several days later, I found they have at least one company in Lublin that charges only 1,8 zloty/km and some 30 zloty/hour - this translated into me paying 22 zloty for my trip from the hotel to the train station. As you see, taxi companies love visitors whom they can skin.

Hotel Akropol Palac, Lublin

I stayed at their residential rooms, planned for 3 people with 3 single beds, from June 26 to June 29. The room was quite small, with barely enough space to move from the door to the toilet to the bed. There was no ventilation either in the room itself or in the bathroom, apart from the window in the room that could be opened. It was moist in the bathroom all the time, with small pools of water on the floor never drying after shower. The window ventilation worked reasonably well until the last night of my stay, when a neighbouring farmer decided to burn same plant waste and filled the surroundings with smoke. Therefore, I was made to wake up at about 3 am and shut the window completely, to avoid respiratory problems. I could notice no traces of any cleaning effort in my room during my stay, as several dead insects remained quite prominently in the very same places where they happened to drop dead on the floor. The residential used mattress covers instead of bed sheets, quite inappropriately, although the rest of bed linen was in order. The buffet breakfast was OK, on the days when I could ask someone for yoghurt and cold milk, which did not happen every day.

Polish Railways

It looks that every train that passes through Warszawa Wschodnia station has to stay there for at least 1 hour. This is what happened to both of my trains, on the way to and from Lublin. Additionally, as they explained to me in Lublin, the local authorities are trying to fight against the local residents working in Warsaw; therefore, there are no night trains from Lublin to Warsaw, and in case you have an early morning plane from Warsaw, you have an option to either go there on the previous day by train (and either pay for 1 day in hotel, whereas in fact you only need it for 5 or 6 hours, or kill your valuable time at the Warsaw airport) or take a taxi directly to Warsaw airport from Lublin and pay some 15 times more than the train costs. It can even be a reasoble price if you are a big group, but not for a single traveller. I believe that Poles still very much like the dictatorial-style communist-type rulers, electing the politicians they do.

Ticketing in Lublin is a problem - I arrived to the station early in the morning, some 45 minutes before my train, and could not get a ticket with a guaranteed sitting place - they have no ticketing machines, as they do at Warszawa Centralna, and the only 3 ticket offices were moving excruciatingly slowly, with one of them dedicated to group trips and therefore not moving at all. An alternative that I used was to buy a ticket on a train, paying an extra 10 zloty for the service - is this difference the reason why the offices at the station were not in hurry at all, with half of them closed completely? Imagine - they actually sell first-class tickets without a guaranteed sitting place - I am quite sure it is much more comfortable to stand in the first class as opposed to the second class carriage. I had to change my sit 2 times, after Warszawa Centralna, as people were entering the train who had bought their tickets well in advance, with a reserved sitting place. The first class was very much packed to the capacity on Saturday, June 29, but I still did not have to stand. The WC I used had no water at all, either for flushing the toilet, or for washing your hands. It did have an indication of paper towels, but none of these physically present, and a small bar of soap, which was quite useless in the situation.

Altogether, my train from Warsaw to Lublin was some 40 minutes late at my destination, and the train from Lublin to Poznan was some 1 hr late. Last time I visited Poland some 8 years ago I had to fly to Warsaw via Madrid, this time I could fly via Lisbon, which is much more practical for a person living in Portugal. The railways, however, have not improved much.

On my way from Poznan to Warsaw airport the train to the airport was the only one they announced in English. All the rest was in Polish only. Due to delays they had to juggle platforms and tracks, therefore to my inquiry at the box office as to where the airport train will stop they answered "platform 6 or platform 3". The best option was to stay close to the billboard underground by the exit to platform 2, to see where the train will be announced.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bishkek International Airport

The announcements made by radio at the departure hall are completely unintelligible, due to bad acoustics and insufficient number / bad placement of loudspeakers. Against all logic, you are obliged to walk up the stairs to get to the tax-free shops. Even more against logic, you are obliged to walk down the stairs to get to the first-class lounge, carrying your bags with you -- no lifts available. I had to pass my luggage 3 times through the security check, and my own self -- twice, first before check-in, and then after it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport - North Hotel

I stayed at this hotel from June 24 to June 25, on my way from Moscow to Faro. They forgot my wakeup call. Luckily, I had a backup plan that worked ... I got an impression that the front desk personnel who checked me in had difficulties in expressing themselves in English, or else much overworked.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hotel Rich, Bishkek

I stayed in this hotel from June 23 to June 24, 2013. The installations seem very recent, some of the packing plastics not yet removed from the window frames. I would define the style as Chinese, mostly because of dull red and gold colours predominating in the hall and in the bar. They also use a lot of Chinese hardware, sometimes out of place, such as the threshold creating an unnecessary obstacle at the entry of the bathroom. My single room had a shower, water is heated by a gas heater located in the corridor. You need to order you breakfast in advance - no buffet breakfast available, similar to the other places I visited in Kyrgyzstan. Ho lift, not suited for disabled persons. Hair dryer. Free WiFi internet, which was not working in my room on day 24 - I had to go to the lobby instead. The electricity went down in the city on day 23 for some time, although the personnel said this has become a rare (once-a-month) event as of recently. The personnel was friendly and helpful.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hotel Visit, Bishkek

I stayed at the hotel Visit, Bishkek, from June 15, 2013 to June 19, 2013. Pros: close to the city centre and the university. Cons: unexpected and non-indicated half-steps all over the place - I had at least 4 chances to break my neck going from the entrance to my bed, one on these already inside my room; no facilities for disabled, no lift, no hair dryer, weird TV facilities - they called me at about 12 at night, because the satellite receiver in my room was providing the signal for other rooms, and was off ...

Guest house Elita, Karakol

I stayed at Elita from 19/06/2013 till 22/06/2013. Pros: not far from the University, friendly staff, internet access. Cons: very slow internet, no facilities for disabled, very high steps on the staircase at the entrance, no hair dryer in the bathroom, weird changes in the floor level, unexpected threshold in the bathroom, need to order the breakfast one day in advance - no buffer breakfast available.

Delfin de Lux (Отель Дельфин Де Люкс), Issyk kul

I stayed at the Hotel "Dolphin de Luxe", Bosteri, Issyk kul district, Kyrgyz Republic, from 22/06/2013 till 23/06/2013. Pros: swimming pool outside, sitting bath in the bathroom, easy access to the beach, internet access. Cons: internet works in the lobby only, no lift, no facilities for disabled, small doses at the canteen; very high steps at the staircases, including those giving access to the lobby, canteen and residential building, probably violating the construction regulations; hot water in the room coming from an electric heater and therefore available in a very limited amount. There are no limitations on smoking in Kyrgyzstan, which became quite irritating at the G-Club and disco belonging to the hotel. My room also had a faint smell of tobacco, as already happened in some hotels in Russia ... I did not go bathing, but the sand on the beach was full of cigarette filters with some broken glass and other debris to match. I and some of my colleagues had difficulties in working the locks of our rooms. No phone in your room - if you need something, walk down to the reception and ask. It also looks they haven't decided how to write their name in Latin alphabet.