After spending an amazing week in Hamburg, we were off to see the rest of my family in Poland. Instead of flying, we decided to take the train to Warsaw. Trains are the most popular way to explore Europe. You can literally get anywhere in Europe on a train. Chances are if you’ve been to Europe, you’ve taken a train to sightsee different cities, visit different countries, or even get to remote towns. In America, we rely on our car to get everywhere, while in Europe, you rely on the train system to move about. And you get a rather pleasant experience that comes with your train ride. They’re spacious, clean, always on time, you can move about the wagon as you please, generally cheaper than flying, and they give you a chance to see parts of the picturesque countryside that you wouldn’t see otherwise. We’ve seen the Italian countryside, Austrian Alps, and the magic of Norway’s landscape all by train (check out our Norway tab in travel memories for more on that awesome ride!). Some trains even have kid’s cabooses with playgrounds for the little ones. We’ve taken many train rides throughout Europe and figured this one would be just as enjoyable as the others.
There are 2 train options to get to Warsaw, both with a change of trains in Berlin. One gives us only 20 minutes to change while the other almost 2 hours. With all day to travel, kids in tow, and our luggage in hand, we figure we’re better off choosing the longer connection. We say goodbye to Rafel and kids, and my sister takes us to Hamburg’s central train station. We get there 45 minutes prior to departure and lug our stuff down 2 flights of stairs to get to our track. Leo & Mila run around, watching trains come in and out of the station. Our train arrives and we have plenty of time to get the kids to their seats and luggage on the rack. The trip to Berlin is the shorter of the two rides, only about an hour and 45 minutes. I don’t know why, but every time we take a train, Rick & I get into our relaxed state of mind (did I mention how comfortable European trains are?). Its easy to lose sight of time on a train in Europe, gazing at the beautiful countryside, dozing in and out of naps, or just enjoying some silent time. Before you know it, you’re at your destination.
This train ride comes with multiple stops, and as we awake from a short nap, we’re in Berlin before we know it. Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, and as most bustling European cities do, it comes with more than one train station (3 to be exact). Upon our arrival at Berlin’s first stop, we see many of our fellow passengers disembark, so we follow suit. We grab Leo, Mila, and our luggage and get off the train. After grasping our surrounding and looking for direction, Rick quickly realizes that we are at the wrong stop. He desperately tries to open the door to our soon to be departing train. Did I mention trains are always on time? There was no chance of getting back on that train. Here we are, 2 kids full of energy and ready to roam, luggage in each hand, car seats and packs on our back, stranded in Berlin. Have you ever had that feeling that all eyes are on you in a public setting? In a metro city train station? That’s us right now. Crazy looks, blank stares, and cold shoulders. Now lost and a bit confused, we’re really not sure where to turn. You could read the emotions right off our faces. While it only took a moments time (although it felt like an eternity), one nice gentleman walked over to us and offered help. We confirmed with him that we were at the wrong station, showed him our ticket, and he kindly explained which train we needed to catch to get to Berlin’s central station. Luckily, it was arriving at the adjacent track so we didn’t have to move far. After about 30 minutes of chaos, we arrived at Berlin’s central station. Remember that decision to choose the longer connection? It paid dividends for us on this trip.
This wasn’t the first time we’ve had train blunders in Europe. 6 years ago, Rick and I took a 2 week Euro excursion and got separated on London’s Tube during rush hour. I went left, he went right and before you knew it, we were on different trains. I figured he’d come back and get me but instead he went to the pub for brews. Go figure! We ended up meeting 4 hours later in the London rain at our final destination. We still laugh about that story today. Travel has a way of bringing you closer as a couple or family. We’re only 2 weeks into our journey and already I know we’ll survive any circumstance. We share a quiet confidence in each other that we can get through any situation.
No crazy stories on the train from Berlin to Warsaw. Its the longer ride, 5 hours to be exact. Leo and Mila get a bit anxious towards the end as travel days are always exhausting. We’re met in Warsaw by my brother Peter, who we’re ecstatic to see as we get off the train. A hand with our luggage is much needed at this point. My home town is another 2 hours away from Warsaw. All in all its about a 12+ hour day of travel.
We get home and are greeted by my parents, whom I haven’t seen in 2+ years. It’s Mila’s first trip to Poland, so they are excited to meet her for the first time. I’m really looking forward to the next 2 weeks. Its a chance to reunite with my family and many of my closest friends who I grew up with. Rick looks forward to home cooked meals, plenty of vodka, and more home cooked Polish meals. I know I’ll have plenty more stories to share so until next time. . .