Trains in Poland: Varsavia a Danzica (Warsaw to Gdansk)

Having decided not to book the train online for fear that I was on the wrong website and would turn up at the train station only to be disappointed and out of pocket, I bought my ticket at the station. The day before, I had passed by and looked at the timetable so I knew there was a train at 05.20 to Gdansk. Easy.
On arrival I was told that yes I could buy a ticket for 63PLN (the same ticket and the same price as had been on the internet: http://www.intercity.pl/en/ ), but no I could not have a seat. Now, for a 3 hour train journey with a heavy bag and a long reading list this was a little worrying. But I agreed none the less, bought a coffee and headed to platform 2. By the way, with regards to pricing I think that 63PLN to get from the middle/south of a country to the very north is very reasonable! And, as an added bonus, if you are a student I have been informed that you can get your ticket for half of the price! For this I am not sure if you need to attend a Polish university or if any student card is sufficient. Unfortunately my student card is terribly out of date and the people who need to check it have this horrible habit of actually looking at the expiry date!
Once on the train it was rather confusing that there was in fact no where to stand. My particular train consisted mostly of 6-seat compartments and narrow corridors down the carriage. I asked a fellow passenger who spoke fairly good English how exactly the system works if you don’t have a seat. Apparently, to get assigned a seat you have to book 2 or 3 weeks in advance, when the ticket is also much cheaper (for someone traveling like me with very few plans and an extremely open mind, it isn’t always possible to plan so far ahead). However, there are often spare seats or compartments where you can sit until someone with a booking comes along! The people who work on the train will often tell you if there is a carriage with a lot of empty seats. There is also usually a restaurant carriage with seating where you can get anything from tea to dumplings and sit for the duration of your journey as long as the tables aren’t needed – a cup of black coffee here was 8PLN, the same price as a Starbucks in Warsaw! This is referring to the Inter City (IC) train company, not the regional trains (which are mostly orange or red). The regional trains stop at more towns and also have higher priority when a single track is needed by two trains! My train had a 15 minute delay because a train that was higher up on the hierarchy (apparently) needed to cross the track. For people getting a connecting train at the next stop, this “lesser train” of mine would call ahead to the station and tell the train to wait for the passenger! This is a courtesy that does not occur in England, or anywhere else I have train travelled! There is also good news that this apparently doesn’t cause a knock-on effect of delays as the Polish trains are scheduled to be at the respective stations at least 10 minutes before the stated departure time. If that isn’t top organization for the convenience of the traveller then I don’t know what is!
The passenger who had been so helpful in telling me all this became my train buddy and we hunted for seats together and found an entire compartment. There was wifi on the train but it didn’t work very well at all, there were also plug sockets and in the compartments. The seats, temperature and lighting were all adjustable making the journey very comfortable once your sat down!
It began to get light at about 06.45 halfway between Warsaw and Gdansk. In the dark the silhouettes of the trees and the rolling fields could trick you into thinking that your speeding through the English countryside, but as soon as the sun comes up a little you realize that this is just an illusion and the flat and foggy scenery is very different. The are a lot of fields with little farmhouses very different in style from those that I have seen in England and Italy, forests with pine and silver birch trees, and small or industrial towns. It was also pointed out to me that there is the “Chopin Tree” dotted around the countryside! I also noted that the fields are not the same luscious green that England is so famous for, but in fact have a more reddish-orange tone to them (this is of course season dependent I am sure!). As this is my first time in this country, a country that I knew very little about before being enlightened by locals, I am no expert.
On the route from Warsaw to Gdansk you can see the Vistola River, Zamek W Mosznej Castle, and the skyline of Gdansk as you approach – just a little visual taster to whet your appetite.
As I already admitted, I am no expert on Poland in any way, though I plan to be somewhat well informed by the time I leave! Most of this information which extends over my first hand experience was taken from the extremely kind and useful guy I met on the train. We passed the 3 hours much faster talking about the history and customs of our respective countries and he really taught me so much! He was in fact so informative that I felt almost guilty for arriving in his wonderful country so ignorant and asking perhaps stupid questions whilst he, by default, spoke in my language! I will always say that this really is the best way to learn about a place. Sure it is nice to use a train journey to write, read, think, or maybe sleep! But it is invaluable to pick the brains of a local, how else could I have heard an in-depth account of the World War in Poland from the Polish point of view? Well, maybe a museum, but this was much more fun.

Versione 2
Gdansk Central Station

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *