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Train travel in Czech and Poland

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Jan 21st, 2013, 01:13 PM
  #1
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Train travel in Czech and Poland

I’m traveling in the Czech Republic and Poland for a week each. I want to know the best option for travel while there (not car). While in Prague I plan day trips to Ceský Krumlov, Melnik and possibly Olomouc. I plan to take a train from Prague to Krakow and while in Poland take a few day trips from Krakow and an eventual train back to Prague. I would like to consider a Eurorail pass but am not sure it covers regional trains to some of my destinations and in some cases have read that buses are more direct, shorter times and better choices that trains with stops.
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fverhage is offline  
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Jan 21st, 2013, 11:39 PM
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Don't buy a pass. Fares are so cheap, there's no point.

Prague to Krakow costs about €39 plus a sleeper supplement for around €27 for a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, bought at the station, it's easy.

Use www.cd.cz for trains within Czech R, www.intercity.pl for long distance trains in Poland, and www.bahn.de/en as your all-purpose all-Europe online timetable. International trains often need to be bought at the station, don't always expect to find them online.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 12:34 PM
  #3
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Thank you! I'll plan on this during my April holiday there
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Jan 29th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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Well no a Eurailpass is too costly but do check out the European East Railpass that covers both Poland and the Czech Republic as well as Austria, Slovakia and Hungary - it offers hop on at will options - just show up - many of the cheaper fares must be bought weeks early and may not be changed nor refunded from a specific train often. You have five train days and check out the 5-day Eastern European railpass - it comes in 2nd class and 1st class and IMO first class in those countries is much much nicer than 2nd class. Cheapest is not always the best in lots of things, including IMO train travel.
For lots of great info on trains in those countries and railpasses I always spotlight these fine fine sites - www.seat61.com - Man in Seat 61 who posted above, his commercial site - click on his commercial line to RailEurope to find current Eastern European railpass prices and also check http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id6.html and www.ricksteves.com.
I am not sure of what those day trips in Czech Republic cost so cannot comment on the efficacy of that pass but be sure to investigate it and the flexibility to just hop on any train anytime it offers (except overnight trains where you have to buy a sleeping reservation - the pass would pay for the basic train fare.
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Jan 31st, 2013, 09:42 AM
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A 5-day European East - flexipass use for unlimited day train travel any day within a 1-month period costs:

$204 in 2nd class
$297 in 1st class

Or about $40/day in 2nd class or about 29 euros a day for fully flexible hop on any train anytime

In first class it would be about $60 a day or about 42 euros a day

So no need to scour at times fickle national rail web sites of each country to get prices perhaps no lower and that come with severe restrictions as to changing from one specific train that to get must be often booked weeks in advance, etc.

That said the efficacy may depend on what kind of day trips from Krakow you are going to take - to Auschwitz and back could cost more than 29 euros if on a fast train and not the dumpy milk train I ended up on, etc.

So just do investigate the pass in spite of what Man in Seat 61 claims - he often thinks only in terms of a Eurailpass and forgets it seems about the much cheaper regional passes.
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Feb 2nd, 2013, 06:10 AM
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i recomend you a train. it's a better way and more comfortable. it's my opinion. i would take a train, not bus.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 05:46 AM
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> in some cases have read that buses are more direct, shorter times and better choices that trains with stops

In Poland that is true. If you want to do some one-day trips from Krakow a bus in most of the cases will be quicker, cheaper and more direct (e.g. to Oświęcim, Zakopane).
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Feb 4th, 2013, 12:22 PM
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Well buses go everywhere, of course, that enough folks want to go. But like adriana I find trains infinitely more comfy than buses - you can get up and walk around and seats are larger - you need not stow your luggage under the bus.

But I guess it would depend on exactly how long the bus was vs train, etc.

And buses like in Auschwitz (Osiwiecim in Polish) may take you closer to the actual concentration camp gates than does the train, serving only the main station, a few miles from either Auschwitz or Birkenau (the latter is much much more provacative - where the killing ovens were with the rail siding where folks were steered to the death or to work camps, where many also later died. Grim grim place. Auschwitz, a few miles from Birkenau was a work camp only.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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just a heads up - the polish trains are not the best. So I would buy a first class ticket.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 01:10 PM
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PalenQ wrote "Auschwitz, a few miles from Birkenau was a work camp only." Really? I always read that Auschwitz was both, a complex of concentration and extermination camps. :-?
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Feb 5th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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As far as I know, there were 3 main camps. Auschwitz I - concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau (II) - an extermination camp and Auschwitz III - a work camp.
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Feb 19th, 2013, 09:10 AM
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Feb 20th, 2013, 07:20 AM
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PalenQ wrote "Auschwitz, a few miles from Birkenau was a work camp only." Really? I always read that Auschwitz was both, a complex of concentration and extermination camps.>

well I base this on my visit to both Auschwitz and Birkenau and what was explained at each - Auschwitz a work camp - Birkenau was where folks got off the trains and were divided into two groups - one fit for work and the others dispatched right to the gas chambers whose remains remain by the rail siding that remains as well.

Birkenau is much more grisly than Auschwitz though both are odious.

I did not see mention of two Auschwitz camps and there seems to be only one - perhaps in two parts and yes some folks were killed here for insubordination, etc as punishment on gallows in front of inmates as a lesson but the mass extermination was done at Birkenau - yet the word Auschwitz is synonymous with Nazi genocide and not Birkenau where the mass killings in gas chambers took place.
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Feb 20th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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A day trip from Prague to Ceske Krumlov will be a very long trip. I would take the bus. Otherwise it is a long taxi
ride from Ceske Budavic rail station to Ceske Krumlov. The
bus will let you off at the edge of town and there is a steep
hill going into town. You may have to take a taxi/train back in the evening. I don't know how late the busses run. Don't
miss Ceske Krumlov, though, it is worth the inconvenience.

Pat
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:40 AM
  #15
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Thank you all.. I think it is a first class Euro East pass for my best options and enjoy! My base of operation is Prague then Krakow and Wroclaw. Does anyone have any suggestions out of the ordinary for sights to see or things to do. I enjoy walking through the ancient spaces and do a number of miles each day. While in Krakow I found an out-of-the-way place Rezydencja Krasickiego 24 ul. Krasickiego 24, Podgórze and wonder if anyone has stayed here. My preference is casual-not expensive. this looks interesting on Google.
Thanks again...
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 07:35 AM
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<< Does anyone have any suggestions out of the ordinary for sights to see or things to do >>

It's hard to envision what someone means by out of the ordinary but here are some things that don't seem to be popular. If you're taking a few day trips from Krakow I'm not sure how much time you'll have to do the unusual things.

Krakow (I'm mentioning these things as there didn't seem to be many people doing them while I was there):

In Krakow I hired a guide to see some wooden churches outside Krakow. It was a very long day (11 hours) and we saw 3 churches. It was expensive but it was something that I wanted to do.

The university tour (the 1 hour tour) may be out of the ordinary. It was very interesting to see the old rooms and antiquities the university owns.

The 19th c. Polish art museum above the Cloth Hall.

The Pharmacy Museum.

The Eagle Under the Pharmacy Museum.


Wroclaw:

Again, I hired a private guide who was knowledgeable and very reasonable (approx. $65 for 3 hours - the rate may be more now).

Tried to find as many dwarfs as I could, asking cafe waiters and buying a dwarf map. This is probably pretty main stream in Wroclaw.

I wanted to see the university but it was closed when I was there (weekend).

Podgorze is definitely off the beaten path. My recommendation would be to stay nearer the main square as it's so delightful in the evenings with lots of people walking around, fiacres, fire dancers, and the Cloth Hall all lit up. Every evening we would go to the square for a drink after dinner. It's an evening's entertainment for the price of a beer or coffee and a great way to end the day, especially if you're traveling solo.
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Jun 18th, 2013, 08:48 AM
  #17
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Some follow up to my trip to Prague/Czech Rep and Krakow/Poland:
Prague is unbelievable and does not disappoint!! No matter where you turn you have wonderful views, Kodak moments and fun. A great Italian restaurant just outside entrance to Tower on main old town square and a nice Czech experience for food on lower level of Municipal House, Obecni dům. Czech food is not to die for.

Go to the Castle and St Vitus on Sunday late afternoon and you can tour most of the areas including entry to St Vitus without paying for a tour.

Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora/Sedlac and especially Olomouc are wonderful one-day trips. Olomouc in particular was a great surprise. I arrived late around 10pm and found a place to stay but little open for food. ended up with pizza takeout! Telc was not worth the detour.

Krakow was my first stop in Poland and then Wroclaw. Both were wonderful. I have a 200 page Word document I put together for Czech Rep and similar for Poland - I had so much planned with simply not enough time.

The one rather major issue I had was with train travel. Slow. Way too many stops. And many train connections/changes. At times we averaged 40 km/hr, not what you are used to when visiting Western Europe. I was on 9 different trains one day. One train made 3 stops after I got on it and we had only gone a short distance seemingly dropping off students from school. I might as well have been home on Septa with a stop every few miles. Schedules were not so clear and help in stations was sometimes difficult though the best thing that the folks at info windows provided was a printout of multiple train options. One women told me the wrong platform in Wroclaw and I watched my train pull away from the neighboring platform and then waited a few hours for another train. trust the signs on the platform more than this women.

Lesson learned. Next time I would make my decisions on what cities or destination to combine based on access to public transportation routes and time tables. Train time cut into my touring time.

White Stork Synagogue in Wroclaw was moving and tells the story of persecution of Jews far beyond the Nazi effort. Once outside you can enjoy a wonderful café for coffee and desert. Skip the Fountain and Centennial Hall area; well out of the way and not much to them.

In Krakow you will certainly walk along Gradzka steet with one end near the main square and the lower end approaching Wawel Castle which is a must see. Also find your way to Kanonicza street which has many wonderful older buildings, some with shops in them and one with an excellent Italian restaurant with outdoor garden settings. I found this better than the food of the Slavic style.

Santos Restaurant is near the lower par of Gradzka ul in Krakow and I enjoyed the best peroiges there.


One other thing I found during my trip was that after first reading in great detail on cities like Krakow and Prague and specifics about various medieval buildings with names such as 3 fiddles etc., I found that these were of course not still as they were but now turning into shops and restaurants.

Enjoy your trip!!!
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Jun 21st, 2013, 02:37 PM
  #18
 
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Thank you for your report! I am doing a very similar trip in one month.

Found the following statement amusing:
Czech food is not to die for.

Maybe I will lose some weight on this vacation!

Thanks again.
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Jun 21st, 2013, 02:47 PM
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Czech food is excellent just depends on your tastes.My most recent trip was 3 weeks ago, you can read what i got up to, what i drank and what I ate here.
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTop...e_Bohemia.html
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Jun 21st, 2013, 02:52 PM
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Thanks, UncleGus, I will check it out.
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