As a young girl, I often travelled between Warsaw and Kraków with my grandmother, using the Polskie Koleje Panstwowe, also known as PKP for short. It was a fast mode of transportation between two of the major cities of Poland, and a bit cheaper than the flights. Of course, I always enjoyed the rides because I’d get to enjoy the view of the countryside, getting to see the beauty of Poland just a bit more. I’d always dreamed to get to see the country more, because what I had seen just outside my window showed me a country of hope, of beauty and made me fall in love with it just a bit more.
Since then, train rides have become one of my favorite ways to see a country, from a distance, especially when I have a short amount of time to explore it, even though in most times, they are more time consuming than a flight, because of how much time it takes to get between cities.
During my most recent trip to Poland, I decided to take a trip to Kraków to see my family, my friends, and to see the city as I had very little time to explore the city previously as a child. I figured it was time to see more of my heritage, and a country I love deeply, that runs in my blood, thicker than water.
My uncle had mentioned that PKP had started doing a “weekend trip” ticket in recent years, and for a certain amount of money you get a round trip ticket, chosing to go whenever and coming back whenever. No limits on how many times you can go between the cities during the weekend, and you have an unlimited choice of when you come back.
Except I made a small mis-calculation. I bought a ticket for PKP Intercity–their second or third class of tickets between the cities. An amateur mistake, because I had mixed up Intercity for Express Intercity (“EIC”) and Express Intercity Premium (“EIP”). Intercity is the train line that takes at least 5 hours to get between Warsaw and Krakow, because it makes additional stops in between at other cities along the way. EIC and EIP take about 2 and a half hours to go between the cities because they don’t make stops at any other cities, and are a direct line.
Nevertheless, I made do with that mistake and took the 5 hour train to Krakow at 8:30 in the morning. I showed up at Warszawa Centralna, got my ticket (because you have to get a seat), and waited at the platform for the train.
One of the biggest things that took me by surprise was just how modern the train has become. It reminded me of my train ride between Madrid and Murcia a few years ago as the train was set up in a similar layout. I loved how new and clean it was, and of course, even for a second class ticket, it was very comfortable and spacious. I loved having the accessibility of sitting by the window, to look out and see the views beyond. On top of that, the train was quiet–perhaps it was because of the early morning start and everyone was sleepy, or perhaps it’s just the way it is constructed–but it was peaceful, and quiet, so much so that I could make out the conductor asking for my ticket and ID in perfect clarity without my hearing aids.