One of the things that frustrated me to no end when I lived Prague, was the cost of visiting neighboring Poland. It’s cheap to visit Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary by bus. But a bus to Poland costs 30 euros which is not only expensive by comparison but an exhausting 12 hour journey because of all the stops.
It was only last summer when I had to spend 132 euros to go only from Munich to South Poland did I feel compelled to find a better way. Apparently train travel is cheap in central and eastern Europe as long as you’re not crossing borders. Since each country runs their trains independently, if you try to take a train from eg. Germany to Poland, it seems like you get charged the whole amount by both companies. On further research, I found the solution to be quite simple: buy a ticket to the border city, cross over and buy a new ticket to your final destination.
So that’s exactly what I did when I travelled the 400+kms from Zabrze, Poland to Prague, Czech Republic (rather than pay US$60 for a direct train). I could have tried to hitchhike all the way but seeing that I’m now on a time constraint to get to Paris, I rather spend my time with friends in Prague than on the side of a highway.
So first I took a train to Wodzislaw Sl, the closest Polish border city with Czech Republic (zl16, $6). Then, I walked a bit until I found the motorway heading towards Czech Republic. I stood there for about 15 mins, grinning with my “CZ” sign in hand.
Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder. An old man started scolding me in Polish and then motioned for me to follow him. I guess I was standing in a dangerous place for cars to stop and he was going to show me a better spot. A few minutes walk later, we reached his car. He had parked his car in a safe place and walked all the way back to get me!
The nice old couple drove me almost 10 kms to the border and dropped me off at the perfect spot, leading directly to the highway to Czech Republic. 5 minutes later, a Polish family picked me up indicating that they were going to Bohumin, the closest Czech town. I nodded and said “Tak, Dwordec Djenki” (Yes, station thanks) and went “choo, choo” as I’d forgotten the word for train.
About 10kms later, I was at the train station. Ticket to Prague purchased for 447kc ($28). Total cost $34, about half I would have paid otherwise for a train. Total time 8.5 hours. Experience, priceless.
Okay maybe not priceless but it was an adventure.
(Travel tip: There’s a new Polish bus company starting called polskibus.com so prices may be better now)
Have you ever been to Poland?