Warszawa Centralna – Prague Hlavni Nadrazi

Having reached Warsaw by Tuesday night, I had a number of potential routes back to the UK. I wanted to be home by Friday night and the obvious/easy route would be Berlin – Brussels – Eurostar, but it was not terribly exciting and I’d stayed in both cities twice already, on days 4, 5, 13 and 27. A few other options also presented themselves, I could cross into Germany further north and take a look at the Molli railway [in German] which would be fun. I’d then be quite close to Hamburg so the route home would the reverse of the first couple of days of this trip.

The option I ended up choosing took me into the Czech Republic, which I’ve never visited, and gave me a little bit of time to look at Prague. There is a direct train from Warsaw, once a day, which takes 8½ hours. I had to make a reservation (in standard class, as first class had sold out) costing less than £4. From there I’d be taking 4 trains to get to Paris the following day and made reservations on those as well, even though it was not mandatory. I didn’t want to risk being bumped off them.

With my travel arrangements made, I had time for a look around the famous historic centre of Warsaw. This was all but destroyed by the Nazis in August 1944, but was rebuilt as it had previously looked, and was declared a World Heritage site in 1980. I’ve been here many times before and it never ceases to amaze me. The town had original been constructed from the 13th Century onwards and it’s had to believe that what stands here today is not original.

The attention to detail in recreating the elaborate decoration of some of the buildings is quite astonishing. I love all the decorated frontages, as much as the buildings themselves.

The centrepiece is the main square. This really is one of the finest squares I’ve ever seen. The museum on one corner is worth visiting (I did it a few years ago.)

Just off the square is the plaque recording the world heritage site status.

Being Poland, there are lots of churches around. I’m not generally interested by these but like the rest of this fine. city, they are worth a look.

The rest of the city is also worth seeing, and it is worth keeping your eyes peeled for things of interest. Here’s a selection

The train to Prague was quite busy to start with. Our route took us to Katowice where almost everyone got off, before crossing the border.

After crossing I was joined in my compartment by a Czech lady who wanted to be chatty, despite us having no common language. We established that we could converse very slightly in Spanish, but soon had both reverted to Google Translate. I explained that I was travelling around Europe and that I would only have a short time in Prague. She was determined to give me a walking itinerary that would take at least a full day to complete and told me that I should have planned to spend four days in her hometown.

We were joined after some time by the train manager who I’d spoken with earlier. I think she was curious to see why we were both staring at a map on my laptop. She stayed for the rest of the journey and became our translator. She had previously lived in London for a couple of years so had good English. She was a big fan of the late Queen and wanted to talk about the upcoming Coronation, but also to share her views on various royals (based on watching The Crown, mostly!)

It was a lovely an totally unexpected way to pass the last couple of hours of my journey. When we arrived in Prague, the train manager told me that I should go and look at the sculptures on Platform 1

They are a memorial to Sir Nicholas Winton, who led a group who saved 669 children from transportation to Concentration Camps in WWII.

Our train had arrived late and I needed to work for a while, so I had even less time to see Prague than I had hoped. The photos I took are not great, as the city is, for the most part, very poorly lit.

It has some nice architecture, but I wasn’t especially excited by the place. I’m aware it was almost midnight and the end of a long day for me, so maybe I need to take a look in the daytime.

I did like the trams, they are really old-fashioned looking and as well as the ones in use, the two that have been converted into a cafe in the centre are rather fun.

I quickly realised that am not really their target visitor. I can see why it is a popular destination, as it has a great selection of bars and restaurants. It also has lots of shops selling cannabis, which is legal here, but is something that would immediately put me off a place.