A Horror story in Krakow

Travel shapes youth, as the saying goes. My travel last six weeks to Poland was full of challenges and instabilities, that broadens my analytical and critical mind. I visited Krakow, the first touristic city in Poland for professional reasons, the last obligatory secondment in my PhD, and my last destination before the end of the INFRASTAR project.

Unlike my personal trips, I prepare well my professional travels, by programming and booking the flights long before and by finding a sure accommodation during my stay.

I didn’t expect that it would be difficult to find a room or an apartment in Krakow during August and September. I contacted the agencies that were recommanded to me by some colleagues. Unfortunately, they were either not available or for students who rent for more than six months.

Under this situation, I opted for Airbnb. I looked in details for all the offers, until I found an apartment near the place of my work, which was available for the six weeks of my staying in Krakow. I booked then my flights and the accommodation. Everything was well settled…

A day before my trip, I contacted my host to ask about the keys and inform her about my arrival time. I was surprised by her asking me to take a hotel the first day because she was in another city taking care of her sick mother. I thought: ‘no problem, incidents can happen, and family comes first.’  She apologised and promised to reimburse the cost of the hotel.

I arrived at Krakow the day after around 6 pm and went directly to a hotel for this first night. What I didn’t know at that time was that it is not going to be the unique hotel during my stay. My horror story in Poland will start now…

The day after, my Airbnb host confirmed to be at home in the afternoon and asked me to come after 3 pm. This is exactly what I did. Once I was in front off the house around 3:20 pm, I tried to call her, but her phone was not working, so I send her a message. I was surprised again by her asking me to wait for two hours because she is on her way!

I was already with my suitcases in front of the house, I didn’t know how I succeeded in keeping my cool! I didn’t have the choice apart waiting.
1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours… She didn’t come, and she was not answering my calls or messages. I had two problems now: this accommodation was already paid, and I had no accommodation anymore. What should I do?

I had the idea to call the head office of Airbnb in US. They suggested giving her one more hour to answer before starting the procedure of cancellation and reimbursement. At 9 pm, I was in a café with my suitcases, waiting for their call. I send them another message after 90 minutes. They finally called me back to ask me to take a hotel and wait for their messages the day after.
Here I am in a second hotel!

I was frustrated and exhausted ! The day after, I started looking for other offers, but none was available near my place of work for the six weeks. And even when I tried to book the few available ones, I got rejected. The accommodations were not available, or the hosts were looking for tourists staying less than one week to gain more.  I was obliged to stay one more night in the hotel.

That day, I ended up booking the last available accommodation, an expensive sharing flat far away from my work location. The day after, I was surprised by the rejection of my request, the host needed the room in September for her family members. It was the last available accommodation in Airbnb!
I tried to stay one more night in the hotel, but it was full booked. I tried to find a new hotel in Booking or a place in Airbnb for one more night, but everything was full booked!!!

That day, Krakow was hosting a festival with two international rappers, and people from all around Europe was coming to see the concert. I didn’t know at that time!
I found finally a hotel in Trivago that I booked and paid quickly. Before leaving my hotel to the next one, I called them because I didn’t receive their confirmation by email. I was surprised that my name was not in their system and reservations were not possible since the hotel was full the last two days.

I asked the hotel receptionist to give me the facebook groups where I can find an accommodation. I added the groups to my account, and I am still waiting for them to accept me in the closed groups :D. I was then looking for a place in Couch Surfing. Nothing didn’t work, so I was thinking to look for a place outside Krakow. I found an available shared room in a hostel with 10 people for 90 euros, NO WAY! After spending one hour studying all the possibilities, the hostel was the best choice but this time it increased to 120 euros.

Am I in a nightmare?

I ended up in that hostel. I changed the conditions of my research, no limits anymore on the price or the distance from work. I found an available apartment for six weeks with 1400 euros, 40 minutes away from my work using public transport. When I made the booking, I got the message that I didn’t have enough money in my card.
I booked then another place for only one week and I send money to my card, without noticing that Airbnb didn’t cancel my first reservation.

At 2:40 pm, I found an email from Airbnb telling me that I had two reservations on the same dates. I called them directly after, and I was surprised to know that they booked my first reservation once I put money in my card and that the cancellation fees were 1000 for the first one. Luckily, I checked the reservation before 3 pm: cancelling the second reservation was freely before 3 pm. I stressed and was not able to find the button to cancel. I end up cancelling that accommodation 5 minutes before 3 pm.
The day after, at 4 pm I was finally stable in the apartment. More challenges were waiting for me in Krakow, but after this experience, I was prepared.

I am sharing this experience with you to show you that travelling is not always fun, sometimes it is a real course of crisis management.
  • ·       Try to keep a tangible evidence when contacting your hosts. (messages are better than calls)
  • ·       Choose secure platforms to send money and call them as soon as possible if you encounter a problem. (don’t send money to your hosts directly, use their bank account or a secure platform)
  • ·       It is always useful to have applications of hotels and accommodations in your phone, and applications of maps, public transport and taxi.
  • ·       Even with a good preparation, you can never control everything, just take it easy.

Calling Airbnb directly after facing the problem with the host and having all our conversations recorded in the message platform gave me the right to cancel and reimburse the accommodation.

Finaly, my travel was not that bad. I was not expecting to have visitors from Morocco and Switzerland. My friends surprised me each weekend, by taking the long way to Krakow to visit me and support me. Thank you😊

And my weekends were like:

Second weekend: Wawel castle and the old town

4th weekend: Jewish district and Schindler museum

5th weekend: Wielicka Salt Mine

6th weekend: Auschwitz I and II, the extermination camp

Travel shapes youth.


  1. Strong girl. I never doubt your ability to handle such issue and to find the good in hard experiences.

    1. Thank you! It is only because you are such an extraordinary friend <3

  2. Oh Dear ! But happy you got hold of the situation ! All the Best Ammouna ! =)

  3. we talked about this Imane, but when I read I know entire story and its really horrible, but you are a strong girl :), take care.


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