Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explore an area which was in the (not too distant) past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
After our adventures in the surprising nice cities of Gdansk and Wroclaw in Poland it was time to move on to the next country of our trip, Czechia. To get to our Czech base in Karlovy Vary we embarked on an epic 10 hours train trip with 3 short connections of 10 minutes, what could possibly go wrong?
The first train of the train was at a very early 7:13 in the magnificent Krakow Glowny station. It was a regional train to Skarszkla Poreba Gorna at the Polish – Czech border operated by the Koleje Dolonoslaskie (Lower Silesia Railways). It took us on a 3-hour journey with frequent stops.
First it was busy with commuters in the Wroclaw area before being filled up with students or people going on a walk in the mountains. The train was much busier than we first anticipated. It was operated by a new Polish-built NEWAG electrical 3 coach unit, featuring comfortable seats. It was the same type of train that got me into Wroclaw on my Dresden to Krakow trip a few years ago.
While the scenery was mostly flat industrial and rural areas at first it became more wooded and hillier as we approached the mountainous border region towards Czechia.
The train already set off with 4 minutes of delay in Wroclaw and actually lost more time enroute, fearing us to have lost our first 10 minutes connection at the border. Due to some miracle we made up enough time to only arrive with a 6 minutes delay into Skarszkla Poreba Gorna.
Here we had a short cross platform connection to the CD (Ceske Drahy, Czech Railways) RegioSpider standing at the small dead end track. This train was formed of a single coach, built by Stadler in the RegioShuttle family.
The first few kilometres the train ascended a bit further, making some more stops in Poland before crossing the border into Czechia and starting to descend again. This ride was on the famous Zackenbahn, which used to be a rack railway because of the steep slopes.
After a scenic but comfortable ride we arrived into the city of Liberec in Czechia where we changed over to an Arriva Trains Czechia former DB 628.2 diesel unit. Even though all tickets included a seat reservation, someone was sitting at our seat, asking us if we minded. After some debate whether we would make a fuss or not, she decided to move seats anyway.
This formed a semi direct service to Usti nad labem with only a few stops in between. Our train however acquired some delay due to having to wait for crossing trains on single line sections and because of single track working between Decin and Usti due to damage of the line because of the floods in the summer of 2021. Due to us having a delay of about 10 minutes we were quite sure of not having made our final 11 minute connection towards out train to Karlovy Vary.
However when we got off the train in Usti nad Labem I saw that our connecting train was still at the platform, so we made a quick platform change and boarded at the first door we saw. Apparently trains in Czechia wait for connections, something we are not used to in Belgium. Our last train was an electric locomotive hauled CD express trains from Prague to Cheb. It changed directions in Usti and the locomotive was run around the train. It was formed of only 4 coaches. The front coaches being former OBB compartment coaches, acquired second hand by CD. We had our reservation in the rear coach, an eastern German built coach from 1974, refurbished in the middle 1990`s to become an open seated and air-conditioned coach. it featured some very comfortable seats in a 2-2 configuration. Fold away tables where located in the armrests in between both seats.
The ride took us through the hilly areas alongside the German – Czech border and was rather uneventful. After the long day on the train we were mostly happy to have made all our connections and where almost on our destination.
Arriving in Karlovy Vary we were surprised by how modern the station was, looking like a UFO crashed into the slope. We finished our day by a short walk to our hotel in the town.
2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe
- POTSDAM 2021 | Schloss Sanssouci.
- 1945 Potsdam Conference’s Cecilienhof Palace.
- Potsdam 2021.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Berlin.
- BERLIN 2021 | Pergamon, ‘Das Panorama’.
- BERLIN 2021 | Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.
- BERLIN 2021 | The Bundestag in the Reichstag.
- Berlin 2021.
- By train from Berlin to Gdansk via Szczecin.
- Stopover in Szczecin.
- REVIEW | Restauracja Ritz in Gdańsk.
- REVIEW | Holiday Inn Gdansk.
- GDAŃSK | Museum of the Second World War.
- GDAŃSK | European Solidarity Centre or Europejskie Centrum Solidarności.
- A walk through Gdańsk.
- Gdańsk 2021.
- POLAND | PKP Intercity Gdansk to Wroclaw via Warsaw.
- Wrocław Museum of Architecture.
- The Dwarfs of Wrocław.
- Poland 2021.