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Getting Around

GETTING THERE

Budget airlines “Ryanair“http://www.ryanair.com) and Wizzair) have literally dozens of routes connecting Poland with the rest of the EU. With Wizzair, the earlier you book the cheaper the ticket. With Ryanair, make regular checks on their website around 6-8 weeks before you want to fly and you’ll get prices which even your granny would admit are ridiculously cheap.

If flying isn’t your thing then Eurolines provide frequent and fairly punctual, low-cost coach services from most major European cities. International train connections are surprisingly weak, not to mention pricey, and will generally only get you to Warsaw, Krakow or Poznan.

GETTING AROUND

The Polish rail network is comprehensive and there are regular train services to and from all major towns and cities but don’t get too excited as it is quite normal for a little notice to flick up just as you’re expecting the arrival of your train, announcing that it will in fact be 2 hours late. Punctuality is not a word familiar to these guys and neither is luxury. As becomes a state-owned system, everything is outdated by about 50 years and you will find yourself crammed into a little dusty compartment with electrical sockets that don’t work and people that you would normally cross the street to avoid.

The one redeeming feature is that prices are cheap in comparison to Western Europe and a sluggish 600km journey from Kraków to GdaÅ„sk can cost as little as 70.00 PLN (€18). It is possible to check for scheduled services at http://www.pkp.pl but buy your ticket at the train station and always make it 1st class. A 2nd class ticket quite incredibly does not guarantee you a seat and with carriages often jam-packed, even on overnight services, you’ll find yourself hunched down outside a rancid toilet for 8 hours hoping that the trickle of urine emerging from under the door doesn’t decide to come your way.

There are also bus connections to just about everywhere. These are as cheap as the trains and conditions are pretty much the same too but journeys are undoubtedly more tedious. You will see more villages than any invading army ever did and, thanks to the lack of anything even resembling suspension on the bus, get the full bone-jarring experience of the so-called roads which connect them. Check for scheduled services at http://www.rozklady.com.pl (click on wyszukiwanie połączeń) and, again, buy tickets at the station.

Hitchhiking is quite possible if you happen to be travelling outside major urban areas and you won’t have any problems getting someone to stop unless you look really foreign. You may, however, find that the typically-warped notion of Polish hospitality results in a series of impromptu visits to members of the driver’s family for bigos (a hearty cabbage dish with meat and mushrooms) and wódka (vodka). Oh well.

Aly Kerr