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My first visit to Poland - I will be returning maybe later this year for a more!

pkpbuff 2 | 2
9 Jul 2010 #1
Hi all

Just returned from a 5 day whistle stop railtour of Holland, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. My Polish experience started as part of the day train ride from Prague to Warsaw, and arrived at the central station in the early evening, and searched for a ticket kiosk for next mornings train, the 0655 to Przemysl via Lublin.

I shuffled my way up the queue practising my Polish language skills, i.e. hello,goodbye, please, thank you, yes and no was about my limit, but I did have a print out of tomorrows train to show the ticket lady. Finally it was my turn to request said ticket, bilet to Przemysl please and pushed my piece of paper under the screen. She carefully read the description and frowned. Oh dear, I thought, is this the end of my carefully arranged itinerary? The frown stayed on her face as she looked at the impressive list of trains stuck on the office wall. It seemed either this train didn’t actually run or no one had bought a ticket for Przemysl for a century or so, or both.

Finally after what seemed like an age, the frown turned into a slow nod and she punched a few buttons and out came the ticket, relief. I handed over the money and collected my ticket. Now I know why Polish ticket offices always have horrendous queues

The next task was to find my hotel which I had booked online for an amazing price of 59 zlotys. I knew it was only a couple of blocks away but finally emerging from the gloomy confines of the station complex up to street level I was confronted with a maze of roads and honking traffic and clattering trams. I headed in what I thought was the right direction, but two blocks later, no hotel. I approached a girl waiting for a bus who spoke a little English and she pointed me in the right direction. I thought I was going west, but turned out to be north. I blamed it on the sun for being in the wrong position.

Eventually found the Hotel Premiere Classe ( the hotel chain is French owned) and checked in. I had a room on the sixth floor with a lovely view of the city, good show.

I didn’t sleep very well, the drunks from the clubs appeared on the streets at 0400, with the trams starting shortly after, gave up on the sleep idea and collected a coffee from the vending machine.

I checked out at 0600 and walked to the station. I purchased a pastry from one of the stalls for 3 zlotys and handed over a 10 zloty note. Cue much tutting from the girl who obviously thought I should have bought three to save her the effort of hunting for change. An expresso later and I was on the platform waiting for this mystery of a train to Przemysl.

Now after yesterdays performance at the ticket desk , I was fully expecting to be the only passenger waiting for this train, but the platform soon filled up and at the appointed time the train rolled in consisting of three second class carriages, a through sleeping car to Odessa and a further three cars tacked on behind. Now having watched a few you tube vids of this train, I noticed that the sleeping car was at the end of the train, so I guessed that the rear cars would be locked and out of use. Most of waiting crowd had obviously not done their research and made a dash for the rear. Ha ha. By the time they realized their mistake, I was up at the front bagging my corner seat before the masses arrived. What a crush. each compartment holds eight people rather than the usual six in other European countries so it was a bit of a log jam. A bonus was windows that could be opened.

We pulled out of central station and headed in a generally south easterly direction towards Lublin where the crush eased somewhat. The electic locomotive was replaced with smoky diesel and off we chugged, the average speed getting slower and slower. Stalowa was reached at around 1130 and an electric loco was reattached for the remainder of the journey arriving at Przemysl at 1330.

This is one of Poland’s most easterly cities and very nice it was too. By now I was pretty hungry so found a restaurant and demolished a large pasta dish and a couple of beers. Feeling better I wandered around the town calling in at Tesco’s on the way back. Obviously not up to Tesco’s English standards, but purchased a picnic tea for tonight’s overnight trip to Szczecin Golineniow, a 950 km journey. I had prebooked online a single berth sleeping cabin for the trip, total fare 370 zloty.

Wandered back to the station for the 1735 departure, was shown my berth which containes a bunk bed on one side and a small washbasin and wardrobe on the other.

Stayed awake till Krakow, enjoying the Polish countryside and a succession of pretty ladies smiling from their signal cabin windows and then slept intermittently the rest of the night.

Arrived in Szczecin around 0900, then alighted at the next stop, Goleniow, the nearest station to the airport for my Ryanair flight to Liverpool. I expected a crowd of passengers loaded with baggage to detrain with me, but nope, I was the only person to get off. I think most people catch a through bus from Szczecin to the airport. The bus station was in the station forecourt but a tour of the bus stops revealed no familiar destinations, but after a few quizzical looks from the locals I found the stop which was in a separate tarmac area adjacent.

The minibus turned up at the allotted time, and said good morning (in Polish of course) and a ticket for the airport (in English as I didn’t know the Polish equivalent) The driver muttered something which I didn’t understand, so I flapped my arms hoping that she would get the message. No luck.

One of the passengers must have clicked as to what I was trying to say, as she suddenly produced a ticket and I was on my way. 5mins later we were at said airport. Had a large coffee, checked in, boarded the plane together with the rest of the passengers, 99% of which appeared to be polish.

Took off and 2 hours later I was at Liverpool airport bus station. Two lengthy bus journeys later and I was back home.

It was a rushed holiday, but I just wanted to experience and see something of the country. My impressions? , well, very good and I will be returning maybe later this year for a more leisurely holiday!

David_18 68 | 982
9 Jul 2010 #2
I hope you enjoyed your journey :D

Maybe you should do some castle tours next time.
9 Jul 2010 #3
Be sure to visit Tricity next time! Its a great place :)
CheFinny 5 | 45
12 Jul 2010 #4
you have too much time on your hands
jwojcie 2 | 763
12 Jul 2010 #6
Well, you really like trains... PKP with those temperatures outside?
You are my hero :-)
OP pkpbuff 2 | 2
13 Jul 2010 #7
Ha ha, it did get a little warm at times. I love train travel though, and PKP TLK trains are much more exciting to ride on than the airconned british stuff.
LAGirl 9 | 496
13 Jul 2010 #8
I am flying out to Poland today. will tell you all how it went. I am very excited.

Now I am in Poland. like it so far. looks very nice.
Ironside 51 | 11,310
15 Jul 2010 #9
Now I am in Poland. like it so far. looks very nice.

Watch out for Poles :)

peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
15 Jul 2010 #10
The electic locomotive was replaced with smoky diesel

what a picture fidelity ;)

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