In a week from now, I will be on my way to the Baltic Sea in Poland.
A little fishing village at the Polish Baltic Sea.
It scares the hell out of some people, and why?
It’s a place unknown that’s why.
In the East.
However, I’m here to tell you that it can be done and you won’t get kidnapped along the way!
Depending on where you are coming from, you need to:
1. Get a ticket: If you’re flying, international airports in Poland are in Warszawa (Warsaw), Kraków, Wrocław, and Poznań. If you’re taking the international train, they generally connect to Warsaw however, if you’re coming from Berlin like I am, then Szczecin (Stettin) on the German-Polish border is your bet.
2. Check online for best routes: The train company in Poland is called “Polskie Koleje Panstwowe” or PKP. They have a website which you can access here for routes. You can check out the details but you can’t buy a local ticket online only a Eurail ticket which you can buy with a credit card. For more info on that check here.
3. Do your research: I live in Berlin and the Polish border is just under two hours away as such, there are discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. You can get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Stettin for €10.00. Reduced tickets for €7.50. If you want to make a day of it, a day ticket would be €20.00 and €15.00 respectively. You could use it for every local transport in Stettin and the ticket is valid until 03:00 the next day!
Or you could get the German Regional tickets also known as the Länder-Tickets. These are fantastic bargains as the Berlin-Brandenburg regional one day ticket is only €29.00 and can be used by up to 5 people! That’s right. 5 people can travel on this ticket and they don’t have to be related! This ticket is valid from 09:00 to 03:00 the following day, and on the trams and buses in Stettin, and can be used to get to the Polish border. You sometimes see people hustling for ticket holders in Stettin ‘cos if you have 5 people travelling together that’s €5.00 each. A bargain if ever I saw one! You can get this ticket from Deutsche Bahn online. For more information check here.
4. In fact, if you are in Germany, why not hop to some of our neighbouring countries too. It might take you a while, but you can take the train from Berlin to London for as little as €59.00, to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and of course, Poland for as little as €39.00 per single ticket or one way trip! For more information check here.
On German Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old travelling with their relatives, are free. On Polish trains, only children under 4 years old travel free. This is a bit of a dilemma as “The Tall Young Gentleman” has just turned 12 and looks 14!
On talking to a Polish student of mine, it’s possible to pay for tickets ON the Polish train or at the border. However, our connecting train leaves in exactly 11 minutes which just gives us enough time to get off the German train, get on and run over the bridge, in order to run down into the Polish train.
So really, not a lot of time!
We’re also taking our train on Easter Monday. A large number of Polish people are religious and will be going “home” so not a good time to wing things and see what happens either…!
5. Check all alternatives: The other alternative is not to take the single ticket from Berlin to Stettin and take our chances on the train, but to actually get the ticket and buy it from Deutsche Bahn. It’s more expensive but it does the job and gets us on the train at the time and day that we actually want to be on it.
As an international train route, the Polish train company (PKP) insisted on paid reserved seating so tickets could not be printed online. In fact, the price was unavailable online at the time, so I made a reservation enquiry instead. Deutsche Bahn responded quite quickly with the details.
A one-way ticket from Berlin Hbf (Main train station) or Berlin Gesunbrunnen arriving at Lebork in Poland, would be €60.10 for 1 adult. Children are free. The administrated ticket would be posted to my home at a cost of €3.50. Paid reserved seating for TWO people on the seats that I requested would be €4.50 each and so the cost would be €72.60 or $100.80 for a journey between two countries to the sea. On the return journey, I will be buying our train tickets in Poland and paying in zloty.
6. Take some refreshments with you: From Berlin, you take the Regional Train to the Polish border and no refreshments are sold on the train. The train that we will be taking from Stettin is also a Regional Train and the station is a tiny little thing.
Generally, you get out of the super-clean-fast-efficient-modern Deutsche Bahn train. You grab your stuff and make a run for it. You run onto the platform, go up the bridge dragging your stuff and laptop with you, run across the bridge and drag all your stuff and laptop down again. You then check which one of the two small trains is actually yours.
Perhaps, a paid reservation is actually a good thing as I remember that the last time we went to the Polish Baltic Sea, we found a compartment that was empty and private and with only one person in it.
By the time we got to the next train stop all hell let loose, and the train got so crowded and cramped that people were sitting on their bags and suitcases in the hallway and corridors, and there was no room to move. The train was delayed for about almost an hour and more delays continued, such that I lost my orientation and we missed our stop.
Oh, about 20 minutes ago!
7. If you miss your train stop, don’t panic: I realized that we had missed the stop as the countryside scene that was I expecting did not show up on my horizon. Hmm.
I couldn’t really look outside the window as the window was blocked with passengers in the corridor, I couldn’t check the train map that you normally see in the corridors as I couldn’t get to the corridor and I didn’t have a smart phone in those days!
A girl in her early 20’s noticed that I kept attempting to leave the compartment. She confirmed that I had missed our stop.
OK. I’ll get off at the next stop.
Oh, I’ve missed that too and the train is now going East further into Poland, whereas I was supposed to be going to the sea which was in the West!
8. Talk to the locals: My fellow travellers were very helpful and we spoke in a mixture of Russian and Polish. Even though I don’t speak Russian and my Polish is very basic to the point of only 2 or 3 words, they finally understood what I was asking! They helped us get off at the next available stop.
I asked every train official as to the next train back to Lebork and they all said that the next train would leave in 2.5 hours.
Not good. At all.
I really couldn’t wait that long and there were no inter-town buses available moreover, it was close to 16:00 and I didn’t want to be at a strange train station, with luggage and a young child at the time, in the evening.
9. Use your head if it all goes bananas: The train officials weren’t really very helpful and pointed at contrasting directions so I decided to look around the station and other platforms and lo and behold, the connecting train that I wanted was still ON THE PLATFORM! I checked and double-checked that it was indeed the right train, then we hopped on.
I so bugged the inspector as per how many stops we had left and what time we were expected to get to Lebork as there are no announcements and no indicators. It was a case of watching each and every stop…. 75 minutes later, we were there.
10. Take the bus: Our connecting train had already departed and other trains were leaving once an hour with the next train departing at only 18:06. Outside the train station at Lebork are lots of mini-buses. Tell the driver where you are going as the inter-town buses ply all around the station.
Our mini-bus journey from Lebork to Leba took just 30 minutes and cost 5.20 PLN /Zloty or a fabulous price of €1.25 or $1.70.
The Polish state railway company is called Polskie Koleje Panstwowe or PKP. For more information please contact: PKP.
For more information on travelling in Poland with a the Eurail pass, please contact: Eurail Poland Pass.
For travelling around or from Germany, please contact: Deutsche Bahn.
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own.
Next week I’ll be writing about the food of Poland, so watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
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Thanks a million!
See you in Berlin.