Poland | Day 3: Intercity trains and salt mines

After a wild storm raged all night – with thunder, lightning and some of the most torrential rain I have seen – we woke up to another sunny day in Warsaw. It was however, about 5 degrees cooler, so we were delighted.

We had a nice relaxed morning as we were heading off to Krakow by train at 10:45am and the station was only a 15-minute walk away. We had researched train times the night before using the Polrail Service website. This was really worth doing as it is often an hour or two between the intercity trains, so if you just miss on you’ll have a long wait.

Heading down to the train station about 30 minutes before our train gave us plenty of time to work out the ticket machines and get some breakfast. The ticket machines were actually really simple to use and they have a couple of different language options, including English. You don’t need to book your train in advance as there are plenty of seats – our carriage was mostly empty – so you can just buy it on the day.

There are also three different types of trains you can catch. We got the Express InterCity Premium (EIP), which is the most expensive, but it’s also the quickest and nicest. It only cost us about £36 each so it wasn’t particularly expensive, it took 2 hours 20 minutes and we got free hot drinks and water on board.

The train was a much nicer way to get to Krakow than by plane. For one it is quick and less stressful, but the train was also lovely inside and getting to watch the countryside go by was beautiful. I tried to take pictures but they are all just green blurs.

When we arrived in Krakow the sun was shining so we settled on the 30 walk to our hotel. We were staying in Hotel Rubinstein, a lovely and unique hotel in the Jewish Quarter of the city. Krakow was a bit more expensive to stay in than Warsaw, and our two nights here cost us £171.

I couldn’t recommend Hotel Rubinstein enough, the staff were helpful, the breakfast was included and was great, the rooms were delightfully cute and the hotel itself had bags of character. It was 4* but it was much nicer than our 5* stay in Warsaw.

Once we had dropped our bags off, we headed straight back out again to grab some lunch before our next adventure.

The night before we had decided to book ourselves onto a trip to go and see the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which is a name I’m still unable to pronounce. Because the salt mine is about 25 minutes outside of the city by car, we booked a tour with See Krakow, which cost around £32 each (160PLN) and included mini-bus transport from and to our hotel, entry to the mine and a tour guide down there. The total time of the trip from pick-up to drop-off was about five hours.

If you’re going to Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a must, it was honestly incredible. We spent about two hours in the mines exploring the tunnels, stunning underground lakes and out-of-this-world chapels. I also licked a wall, which, unlike most other times I have done this, was actually encouraged. I tried to take lots of pictures but it was very dark so they don’t fully do justice to how beautiful it was.

Once we got back to the city, we headed straight for dinner. Our hotel was on a lovely cobbled square full of restaurants, live classical music and great food, so we ate here.

Feeling quite chuffed with ourselves for making it to Krakow and still doing something with our day, we celebrated with what I can only describe as the most alcoholic Long Island Iced Tea I’ve ever experienced. The food was fantastic however, the atmosphere on the square was friendly and relaxed, and we wiled away most of the evening chatting and drinking.

Before we headed to bed, we took a late night stroll through the Jewish Quarter, which proved to be quite surprising. Leaving our peaceful square behind, we came across everything from charming courtyard restaurants to streets and squares bustling with life, music and people.

At this point, both Naomi and I fell in love with the Jewish Quarter, and we couldn’t wait to explore it more in the daytime.

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