If you’d like an old-school experience of train travel, you need to go to Poland!
I’ve spent my fair share of time travelling on the Polish trains (it’s about 8/9 hrs from seaside Gdansk in the north to Lublin in south East, Krakow to Warsaw will take you about 4 hours) and i have to admit it, I love the old-fashioned Polish railways!
I’ve not seen trains like the Polish ones anywhere else …. you get into the train (be careful on the fairly steep steps…. a nice Polish gentleman will often offer to help) and straight into the narrow corridors (like out of a black & white film) that have passenger compartments leading off them. Try going for a 1st class ticket (it’s often worth it and really not expensive) which have 6 soft and spacious seats per compartment, if you opt for a 2nd class ticket you’ll have 7 other people in there with you – both options can often make for a nice bonding experience… if you’ve mastered some useful Polish expressions!
It might not be the most modern of railways but there are some great old-school benefits:
1. you can open the windows in the corridor and in the compartment! this is lovely in the summer and means you can look out into the pretty countryside and get a real feel for it…
2. the separate compartments mean you can doze off in peace & calm rather than the open plan modern trains
3. there’s an old school trolley guy that goes round rattling through the corridors with tea, coffee, snacks …. and of course you have the random man that gets on for a couple stops screaming ‘zimne piwo’ (cold beer) as he walks through the corridor
4. noone will push past you if you get a place in a compartment (if you get stuck standing in the narrow corridor, people will pretty much walk on you and squash you with their luggage, all an experience in itsefl)
5. you get a cool old fashioned conductor check your tickets (keep any student IDs handy)
6. if you get one of the 4 window or corridor seats, you get a little table for yourself to perch on & drink your tea or coffee
7. the conductors will take a parcel/letter for you and deliver it to your destination city on the train (for a small fee)
8. if you’re on a long train journey, you’re bound to have a restaurant carriage – called WARS – try it out, it’s filled with old school bar tables and stools and again takes you back to the bygone era
All in all, I would not replace the old fashioned polish trains with the modern variety … if only they could get a tad faster…. but it’s part of the experience 🙂 And the journey prices are so affordable that it’s really worth trying a journey out.
Word of warning – the train toilet experience is a whole different one – when you look down, you will see the rails flash past…. scary the first time you see it but you’ll get used to it!
For more travel ideas and holiday inspirations for Poland, see my website on www.inlovewithpoland.com.