Poland ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ to the UK ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง exclusively by train in less than a day! More interesting than flying.

I canโ€™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 Gdaล„sk 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: Warsaw๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ-Berlin๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช-Basel๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ-Strasbourg๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท-Paris๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท-London๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง

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 โ‚ฌ59 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 didnโ€™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 Baselโ€™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 hourโ€™s break in Strasbourg, enough time to walk the streets and enjoy a croissant or several at a French cafรฉ, 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 didnโ€™t feel long at all.

This article was first published in January 2018.

Route of the Amber Road: Gdansk ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ to Wroclaw ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ by Polish sleeper train

Gdansk is a magical place, brought back to life by the dedication of the local people to rebuild the Old Town identically to how it was before the destruction caused by World War 2. It’s main industry, the of extraction of amber from the Baltic Sea, is still thriving and on the streets it’s possible to purchase your own amber jewellery souvenir.

Day trains are available but I chose the night train designated TLK operated by the Polish state operator, PKP Intercity, that leaves Gdansk Glowny at around 22:00 and travels south arriving at Wroclaw Glowny at approximately 06:00 (for tickets and timetables visit https://www.intercity.pl/en/). Both of these stations are in the centre of their respective cities so travelling by train overnight makes very efficient use of time. I opted for the couchette option which consisted of a room with three bunk beds with a pillow, blanket and sheet provided. This is unusual for Europe where couchettes normally have between 4 and 6 couchettes in a room so it was very quiet especially as there was only me and a Polish lady sharing (the middle bed was unoccupied).

The Conductor of the train didn’t speak any English so communication was a challenge with my lack of Polish knowledge. When it came to the time to wake me up his method of wake up call was an interesting one. He waved my ticket in my face. I can’t say this was the most pleasant way of waking up and I didn’t expect this having never been woken up this way before! He also woke me up at 05:15, but upon waking up I didn’t understand what he was saying to me. I assumed I would have to get off at the time printed on the ticket which said I would arrive at 06:15. The Conductor came back at 05:40 and I understood from him that we had arrived at Wroclaw and he wanted me off the train! I rushed off the train and then took a trip to the warm part of the station on the main concourse and had a bite to eat at the 24 hour McDonald’s before waiting for daylight to arrive! I did enjoy the comfort of this night train but my advice here is to be ready for an early start and perhaps a strange method of being woken up!

It certainly saves time travelling through the day and the cost of a hotel.

Wroclaw sits on the River Oder and the oldest part of the city dates back over 1000 years. Its setting is beautiful and it boasts squares with buildings with colourful facades – great for pictures.

Look out for the over 400 gnomes situated across the city all with their own professions!

This article was first published in November 2017.