Swiss Railways train in Zurich Station
I was in Krakow in early October 2019 planning to have a day looking round the city then move off for a quick circuit in four days round the country on my way to Hungary and Austria. I was staying at the hotel Europejski where I’d stayed before as it’s close to the main railway station, a good tram stop and on the fringes of the old town. I had booked my tickets through Polrail in Bydgoszcz: their courier package was waiting for me at the hotel; a very efficient organisation with an easy to use online booking system. I bought myself a day pass on the trams which cost 15 zlotys (€4), visits to Wawel Castle, the old town, Schindler’s enamel factory (now rebuilt) and the Museum of Contemporary Art next door, then out to the Kongresshall where there was a Haydn and Mozart concert but it had been cancelled! Next day across the square to Krakow Glowny; don’t be fooled, it’s not that lovely old building facing across the square anymore but a modern equivalent lower down of the left side. Here there are five wide island platforms each with a track on either side so you not only need to know which platform but more importantly which track you’re travelling on and the ultimate destination of your train which is not necessarily where you intend to get off.
My train to Szczecin (ultimate destination Świnoujście just to fool you!) left on time at 1028 via Wroclaw and Kostrzyn; after the half way mark through varied river areas and marshlands, good birding too; a bit of a delay near Rzepin waiting for a slow freight train to move off the single track and then it started to rain very heavily as we pulled into Szczecin over half an hour late at seven thirty. The approach to the station is actually from the north which is slightly misleading so I needed to be sure of my bearings when leaving the station for the short, soaking walk to the Ibis hotel where I’m staying the night…mind you so were a group of enormous basketball players who seemed determined
to consume as much food in the hotel as possible! However I did manage to get a light supper and a good night’s sleep but met them all again next morning at breakfast. I needed to be off and back down at the station to have a look at the tram system in the city and just about had time for a short trip along the bund bordering the river Oder.
A six hour journey today to Gdansk so I stocked up with some supplies from a local supermarket as I knew there was to be no buffet car on board. I was joined in my compartment by a male companion with a smattering of English for almost all the journey and at one point along the trip by a very smart lady who demanded that one of us place her suitcase in the luggage rack. I politely declined, suggesting she left it on the floor, but my companion got the job and I could see he was not pleased! It was a lovely day now full of autumn tints as we travelled through the coastal area of Pomerania making several stops at small settlements with ancient trackside water towers, a few people getting on or getting off till eventually we arrived at the port of Gdynia where the suitcase was lowered to the ground and my travelling companions disembarked. I travelled onwards for the few miles into Gdansk where I found the railway station was in a state of chaos being completely rebuilt and the only way in and out was via the Burger King restaurant next door! Again I was staying at an Ibis which turned out to be a good choice in that it was only a short stroll down towards the old dock area which has been turned into a very attractive pedestrianised waterfront with Hanseatic style warehouses on one side and the river on the other. Very busy in the evening sunshine and I soon located a good looking fish restaurant for my gourmet supper!
Next day I’d love to have gone across the bay for a short visit to Kaliningrad but I just knew that it would be neither easy nor possible so restricted myself to a look round the old town and into the famous old post office, now a museum but in September 1939 the scene of the short but poignant siege. Back at the chaotic station the new pendolino arrived with my reserved seat for the high-speed journey into Warsaw a very comfortable three hours away. After a short walk around the station area it was time to stock up on some food for my night train to Budapest and I was impressed at the quantity of supplies available but also that this was the first alcohol free station I had ever visited worldwide!
Below is a detailed map of David’s route. You can zoom in by using the +/- buttons or by using the wheel on your mouse whilst hovering over the map.
The map has been extracted from the Railway Map of Europe with kind permission of the publishers.
You can purchase copies of the full map, as well as rail timetables, from The European Railway Timetable website
DS March 2022