I can’t start this blog with just the journey. I have to say how much I loved Poland… what a beautiful place.
My trip involved travelling from Gdańsk to Wroclaw to Warsaw. Three cities affected by the war, but the former two built back up again with their facades repaired. They boast charming streets and the milk bars are perfect for solo travellers and warm, hearty food. Please see my blog here of Poland itself https://gdtravels.co.uk/2017/11/26/route-of-the-amber-road-gdansk-to-wroclaw-poland/
Trip summary: Warsaw🇵🇱-Berlin🇩🇪-Basel🇨🇭-Strasbourg🇫🇷-Paris🇫🇷-London🇬🇧
The journey home
For those tight for time there is a faster route to travel from Warsaw to London via Paris with one train change using the Russian Railways EuroNight service from Moscow to Paris departing Warsaw Wschodnia at 13:05 on Wednesdays and arriving into Paris Gare de l’Est at 09:33. Paris Gare de Nord is a short 8-minute walk from Paris Gare de l’Est where you can pick up a Eurostar direct to London through the Channel Tunnel.
As it was cheaper for me I worked out a different and certainly more fun way to travel to London. On 5 trains. The journey time was 23 hours, 30 minutes to cover 2,878km but this did not bother me: I would make lots of friends along the way, be able to read that book I’ve been carrying around for weeks and see the landscape change through the window… bliss. Plus, a couple of hours to enjoy Paris.
Train 1: Warsaw-Berlin (PKP IC and DB)
A rather elderly train using PKP IC coaches exclusively, this train consisted of mainly seated compartment carriages but did convey an open saloon carriage too. Much to my delight there was a seated bar carriage and it was well occupied, mainly with business travellers travelling from Warsaw to Poznan. Its popularity was justified with its food and drink offering – I enjoyed Smoked Salmon and a Savignon Blanc or three. Soon enough we crossed into Germany, the train crew changed and arrived on time to the impressive multiple-story station of Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
Train 2: Berlin-Basel SBB (OEBB NightJet)
Recently, Austrian Federel Railways (OEBB) have taken over this convenient north-south route from Hamburg to Zurich via Berlin and have rebranded the service as NightJet with other routes. I opted to travel as far southwest as Basel in order to allow enough time to sleep – yes I didn’t opt for that bargain seated carriage and in fact the most budget bed option, still not badly priced at €59 for this six-berth couchette (public Adult fare).
This was a pleasant enough way to travel – I shared with a middle-aged German lady and gentleman and three late-20s friends from Switzerland travelling home from a weekend in Berlin. We did have to make up our own beds since the carriage converts from seated accommodation early evening. It is normal however to have to place your own sheet on the bed and position your pillow, top sheet and blanket.
Soon enough we were able to settle and the Swiss friends kindly shared some of their peppermint liqueur.
Interestingly there was a knock at the door early morning upon entering Switzerland: the police wanted to know whose bag was whose. Lots of peppermint liqueur was handed over… shame we didn’t have a bigger party the night before.
Arrival in Switzerland for the first time. First impressions of Basel- very clean and modern.
Train 3: Basel-Strasbourg (SNCF TER)
Soon I was into France, before I got on this train technically, through Basel’s dedicated rail border area to the French platforms.
This journey involved chugging through the French countryside on a comfortable regional train. What a delight.
Train 4: Strasbourg-Paris (SNCF TGV)
Following an hour’s break in Strasbourg, enough time to walk the streets and enjoy a croissant or several at a French café, I returned to the gare de Strasbourg.
I was graced with a TGV Duplex and a seat upstairs with a window view… perfect.
Train 5: Paris-London (Eurostar)
After a few hours to enjoy Paris, Gare de Nord was in sight for me to enjoy my final leg home.
Arriving at the station 45 minutes before departure to check-in I was soon whisked away to London via the Chunnel on the super speedy Eurostar train with complimentary food and wine in Standard Premier. Heaven.
Trip took 23 hours, 30 minutes but didn’t feel long at all.
This article was first published in January 2018.