Lublin and Opole
Lublin is an important town in Polish history. Today Warsaw is the capital, Krakow the old but Lublin has played the key part in many stages of Polish history.
It was here that the union of Poland and Lithuania into a powerful commonwealth that became Europe’s largest country was announced.
At the end of World War I an independent Poland was proclaimed and towards the end of World War II the Soviet administration installed a temporary government.
The city also has an attractive but small Old Town and is 2 1/2 hours by train for Warsaw.
Regrettably I made the decision to travel around midday, suffered a train delay, the castle was closed and mostly saw Lublin in darkness. However I do hope to go back.
I enjoyed my time meeting my friend Paula, who I had met recently by interpals and did get to see inside the cathedral as it was still opened and have meal by the Rynek.
Reasonably comfortable, clean, reasonably priced and… unreliable.
In my first trip to Poland I took the train a total of four times, suffering a delay of four times.
Admittedly in Warszawa Centralna there is a lot of building work being carried out, perhaps causing some delays and dusty platforms. This would not be as much as a problem if there was more information provided.
When waiting for the train to platform I was on failing to indicate there was a delay or even a train arriving until it did. Fortunately a Polish guy could inform me there was a delay but he did not know how long or why.
The 2nd class cabin train itself was comfortable and puts its British counterpart to shame.
However I have major gripe about taking the train in Poland and it has nothing to do with unreliability. many of the stations, nearly all I came across had no indication (at least clear) of what station the train had pulled into. In the rare case there was a sign it was once and easily missable from 90% if the train. Your ticket may have your arrival time printed on it but if your train is delayed and you are not going to the last stop this because useless unless you have been counting stops.
Also be aware that even if taking a train to Warsaw central it may not be the last stop. There are several stations. Main stations are often named with Centralna or Glowne.
Opole is a small city in southern Poland. One with a small German speaking community that remained after the Second World War.
The city does not have any must-see sites but it is in itself pleasant, worth spending a day or two if in the vicinity. It is 5 hours by train from Warsaw so it is best visiting from somewhere like Wroclaw.
With plenty of green space, Opole is probably best in spring. There might not be much to do sightseeing wise but walking in the old town, along the river, in the park or spending time in the cafes were all enjoyable. Opole is more suitable for a relaxed kind of holiday where you can both relax and experience real life instead of hectic sightseeing.
Accommodation seemed relatively expensive in Opole perhaps most foreign visitors are on business.
I went to visit my Ukrainian friend Natalia who I planned to visit in 2012 but as I was going to Poland in 2011 decided to visit this time also.
She likes the city describing both the people and place as nice.
While visiting I had the chance to experience a student concert at her university. A rock band were playing and turned their amplifier up very loud in the small room. The music was not my kind but the quality seemed OK (I could not understand a word).
As for in Opole, we saw the small but nice old town including the town hall, the river side, the cathedral and a nice cafe where we had nalesniki.
A speciality for Opole the kind of stuffed pancake was very nice. You could choose a variety of fillings from savoury based or sweet.
Piast Tower was closed apparently for some time.