366 days to the DAY that I ended my Warsaw residency last year, today I finally arrived again in Warsaw after a long and quite strenuous trip from Ukraine. As soon as I saw the gorgeous Palace of Culture and Science I knew I was home. Yes, I do consider Warsaw one of my many homes in this world, and I missed it so much. It’s changed a lot in a year but some things never change…
The lovely Palace of Culture and Science.
Getting back “home” of sorts was by no way easy. Actually it was pretty nightmarish. I had a 9:45PM bus ticket to Warsaw leaving yesterday from Lviv bus station. The bus never came and there was no explanation. No one spoke English or could explain why the bus didn’t come. Thankfully a young woman took pity on me and tried to translate between me and the people working at the bus station. They tried to arrange for me to go on another bus, but the driver of the other bus said he didn’t want to take me because he heard that another American girl got stopped at the border because apparently there was something wrong with her passport and the Ukranian or the Polish customs and immigration people wanted to make the company pay for to let her through. Therefore I guess because of this one girl they somehow assumed that ALL Americans would have trouble crossing, therefore he didn’t want to risk taking me. Of course I was distraught, as it doesn’t make sense, if one American had trouble with their passport and getting through border control it doesn’t mean we ALL will. From what the young lady told me, it seems they are having a problem reading biometric passports and there was quite a heated discussion between the driver, the woman selling tickets and the young lady acting as my intermediary. I don’t have a biometric passport so if that was the case, I shouldn’t have any issue. Eventually I said I would buy another ticket for midnight, with a different driver. I had to pay again but it’s okay, as I’m putting a stop payment on the ticket I bought where the bus didn’t come if the company refuses to refund my money.
So the one at midnight came and I got on. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t because I kept thinking I was going to have an issue. That stupid driver from before was making me feel worried. I dozed off a bit and woke up around 2:30AM when we finally got to the border. And we waited. And waited. And waited, and dozed and waited some more. We didn’t get up to the front of the queue until about 8:30 the next morning. It was crazy. However the Ukranian guards came on, took all of our passports, and we waited some more. The passports were eventually returned with no incident. I just received my stamp out. One bit of relief for me.
Then after another hour of waiting we had to go through the Polish border. They made us get off of the bus and wait in line to get stamped back into the EU. I was literally praying I would have no trouble. And God came through for me. He asked me what I was there for and I said a holiday. He stamped my passport and wished me a good holiday before letting me into the country. So I realized that that stupid Ukranian driver of before was just tripping over nothing. Yet and still it’s wrong of him to discriminate and not wanting to take Americans because one or two people may had a problem at the border before. That’s not cool whatsoever.
After customs we all had to open our bags for them to check. Apparently people try to smuggle huge bundles of cigarettes and booze in their luggage to sell so they have to check to make sure no one is smuggling forbidden contraband. I of course was clean as I don’t smoke and I am also not a fan of cheap vodka. lol.
But the entire border process took 8 hours. So if you’re thinking about taking the bus from Ukraine into the EU, DON’T. Take a plane. If I ever go back to Ukraine I will definitely fly out for peace of mind.
I arrived in Warsaw around 2pm today and am a bit tired. I haven’t done much as I just arrived. I bought some shoes and threw out some old beat up ones. Tomorrow I’m going to reconnect with some of my former students and colleagues just to see how they are. Should be an moderately uneventful and fun week. The hostel has karaoke tonight so I might let out my inner Beyonce a little.
More to come.