Where has the time gone?! Time and tasks have taken me away from sharing the rest of our spring trip, so back at it!
Very early in the morning, before the sun had risen in late April, we walked about 30 minutes thru the quiet streets to the Krakow train station. Barely anyone was out, but the bakeries we passed were full of action and I wish I had gotten some pictures. I was just too sleepy to be thinking clearly about missing that opportunity.
We booked this leg of our trip thru www.polrail.com which I wholeheartedly recommend. We had read so many good and bad tales about crossing from Poland into Ukraine. I was glad to find that the customer service and guidance from the team at Polrail put my mind at ease and managed to make everything simple to use. Something we learned when booking, booking requests can be made up to 90 days beforehand, however official reservations aren’t made until 30 days prior to travel. Bare in mind, schedule changes can occur between requesting and receiving a booking, so I don’t recommend making solid plans based on transit times.
The train ride to the boarder city, Przemysl, made it clear to me why so many people from that region settled in middle America! It very much reminded me of Indiana with the rolling hills, farms and greenery.
We had a three hour ‘layover’ in Przemysl which allowed us to wander around and get some breakfast. For the record, breakfast here changed my view on French Toast. I ordered ‘French Toast’ off the menu at a cafe, and what I got was THE BEST breakfast. It was savory toast with eggs and chives. This is a dish I have been making ever since our return with potato bread.
After a little exploration, we headed back to the Przemysl train station, gathered out luggage from the locker (bring coins!), and found our way to the ‘hidden’ platform for our train to L’viv. Something I had read ahead of time referred to quite a bit of confusion when foreign passengers are trying to find the platform for the L’viv train - numbers four and five. As long as you pay attention to the signs, it was actually quite easy to navigate. The quick tip is to cross to platform three, then enter a separate tunnel stairwell to walk to the other platforms.
Conductors opened the gates after the train arrived and we walked to our assigned car. There we were greeted by an attendant in Polish. Being that neither of us speak Polish, I just went with the assumption that they needed to check out passports and tickets prior to our entry onto the train. Thankfully, this was correct! Throughout our trip, especially on the trains, I always kept our passports and tickets ready to present to a properly uniformed attendant when they approach. It was on this train that we had the most passport checks - prior to boarding, on the train on the Polish side of the boarder and then again on the train on the Ukrainian side of the boarder.
Our train also got in to L’viv about 45 minutes late due to the passport checks, however this turned out to be a blessing! Before we left the US, I verified with both our cell phone carriers that we would have service in Ukraine. I was told we would, but we did not. The blessing to our train delay was that I was able to take the time to realize we no longer had cell service and instead use the train WiFi to access google maps so we could reach our AirBnb, a 35 minute walk from the station!
Fun part about no cell service, we still were able to use Google Maps to get where we needed to go! As long as I pulled up the map while we had access to the internet, the blue tracking dot still followed along as we walked the route. Both creepy and extremely helpful in this case!
Our AirBnb (which you can book and/or view here)was located in Svobody Square with an incredible view of the L’viv Opera House. The location was prime for checking out the city center and all of our adventuring while in L’viv, the details of which I will share in the next blog post!