Train Alternatives

Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
Trip End Dec 25, 2009

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Flag of Poland  , Baltic Coast,
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Plan today was to take the train from Berlin to Gdansk, Poland. I had carefully researched different routes and times.  In the end, I decided it would be easiest for us with our entire luggage and such to make as few transfers as possible even though it meant leaving a little earlier than I would have liked.  SO, promptly at 7:59, we are waiting for our train at Berlin's Hauptbahnhof.  Wow, last two times I was in Germany, the trains were so prompt and you could set your watch by them.  Not quite the case now but then the S-bahns were not running so maybe that slowed down the other trains.

                Our train arrived at 8:01 so only 2 minutes late.  But we only have a 9 minute window to change trains once we get into Poland.  Having been through the "change trains in a foreign country where none of the signs make sense", I thought 9 minutes was going to be rough but we were ready to run up and down some stairs just in case.  I had written down the different stations we were going to pass so we would know when we were getting close, as well as the timing.

                We had upgraded to first class because we were on a regional train and during our sojourn in Berlin, the regional had very little room for luggage.  This train had plenty of room in second class and first class but you never know.  Our little first class compartment only has 8 seats and is just a small section in the second class car so we can see and hear everyone in the other part of the railway car.  As we are getting close to our stop, a whole group of women come through our small compartment and stand at the door.  We get our luggage and go stand behind them.  When we pull into the station, we are quite anxious to exit the train because we are now down to 7 minutes to change trains.  The lady in the front of the queue cannot get the door open!  Now we are down to 6 minutes.  Finally we get out the door and there are no trains on our platform so we race up the stairs trying hard to find a sign, a direction, anything.  There is nothing to be found anywhere.  All the ladies in the group have come up the stairs and gone down the next set to the closest platform.  A train comes and stops at that platform so we race down the stairs as well.  Remember we are carting 3 suitcases plus a backpack for each of us so racing might be pressing the term a tiny bit.  The train that has stopped at this platform has no open doors and as we walk along it, it has no one in the engineer’s seat either so it’s not going anywhere.

                The German ladies are all chattering and gesturing so we ask where they are going and they say Gdansk.  Hurray!  English speakers and moving in the same direction as us.  They inform us that our train has been canceled.  We all crowd around the information board (finally found it) to see when the next train might be.  It’s a good 2 hours from now.  Oh well, what’s our choice at this point.  As it’s a bit chilly, we stand in the sun and get ready to hunker down to wait for the train when the ladies took us under their wings and made us honorary members of their group for the duration of the trip.  They had one Polish speaker in their group.  She went off to find better information.  She comes back that there is a train in 40 minutes but it means that we have to change to a bus, then change to a train, then finally change to one more train.  It will get us to our destination only 2 hours later.  Not so bad. 

                So that is basically what we did.  We wondered whether our tickets would be enough to get us through or if we would have to be paying more as we went but everyone seemed to know the situation.  Every time a conductor came through to check our tickets, he/she would nod, punch the ticket and move on. 

                So a very nice bus ride through the countryside, some nice train journeys, and a final destination by the seashore in Sopot, Poland.  Our hotel is here rather than Gdansk but we’ll spend time over there as well walking around to see the sights.
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