The Polish train was old fashioned with separate 6 person compartments in first class but it was very comfortable. A snack trolley came around and there was a busy cafe carriage, which only seemed to offer schnitzel.
Ticket checks were a regular occurrence but nobody ever asked to see a passport. Leaving Berlin there are miles and miles of young beech, birch and pine forest. There is nothing to mark the German/Polish border although the landscape becomes more agricultural with fields of wheat and vegetables stretching to the horizon. The track was crossed by hundreds of roads so the engine horn was sometimes blasting every few minutes and I was startled out of a doze on more than one occasion.
I had been looking forward to stretching out on my overnight train which would have got me into Warsaw by 12.00, but the day train wasn’t due to arrive until 19.00 so I lost an afternoon. With more delays on route it didn’t finally roll into Warsaw until 21.00.
Changing pounds/euros into zlotys was very easy as there were exchange counters all around the city, even late at night, and all gave a better rate than offered in the UK.
My late arrival meant I was doubly glad to have booked into the hotel Metropol, which was within walking distance of the station.
With my exploration of Warsaw restricted to the evening it was fortunate that I had arranged a guide for my whistle stop visit that was now going to be even briefer. The flexibility of my InterRail pass meant I could have stayed another day or two in Warsaw if I chose but I wanted to keep to my one-week travel schedule.
Warsaw has been impressively rebuilt after being devastated in WWII, but you would hardly know it, as the restoration has been remarkable. I was too late for the free Chopin concert in the park so instead followed part of a Chopin city trail of 15 marble benches, each of which ingeniously played a Chopin classic when you sat down.
The prices are incredible, a fraction of those at home or elsewhere in Western Europe. A beer was 80 pence and the interesting ‘Polish tapas’ were around £1.50 and they were substantial helpings rather than a simple mouthful. This new style bar food is a post-communist revival of traditional Polish market snack food but with a modern twist and they really were excellent. One of my favourites was Pyzy – a dumpling made of fish roe with mashed and raw potato rolled into balls, boiled and with the texture of Italian gnocchi.
A good Polish vodka, Zubrowka, was also 80 pence a shot but its pale green tinge due to the inclusion of a piece of Bison grass was a bit off-putting.
I stayed in the hotel Metropol because it was centrally located and being able to walk to the station made arrival and departure much simpler. It was nothing fancy, but smart, modern with pleasant staff, so was an excellent choice and great value.
For further information see the Polish Tourist Office website.
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 1: London to Warsaw
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 3: Warsaw to Krakow
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 4: The night train to Vienna
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 5: Vienna
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 6: Vienna to Salzburg
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 7: Salzburg
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 8: Salzburg – Sound of Music tour
• Read InterRailing is for Seniors too! – Trip 9: Salzburg-Brussels-London