(Apologies in advance. This is a long post with several questions. I know that not all of these stops are possible, and that's fine. I'm just having a difficult time with trip-planning this year.)
My trip to Poland is approaching fast and I still can't seem to settle on an itinerary. This is very out of character for me, but I've decided to just go with it. I have plane tickets and a place booked for my first few nights in Warsaw, as well as fully cancelable reservations in various other places. Last year I spent a few days each in Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, and around Wigry Lake and loved 95% of everything I saw, so maybe I am just subconsciously comfortable with rolling with things this time around. I guess I'll find out.
All the same, I could use some insight and advice. I am due to land in Warsaw around noon on July 5th (like I said, uncharacteristically leaving things to the last minute) and fly home from Prague (long story, but it's mainly about miles and having a good friend I can stay with the night before) on the 25th. As I've posted on the General Europe board, I'm planning on spending 3 or so days each in Kyiv and Lviv as well, and it seems to make most sense to meander my way south/southeast from Warsaw, eventually winding up in Ukraine, and then heading back west from Ukraine (either by train or plane) to wind things up around Krakow and vicinity, before hopping the overnight train to Prague.
Question #1: I would like to see Zamosc and at least take a peek at Lublin before heading to Ukraine (Lublin is also appealing because of the direct overnight train to Kyiv that operates at a civilized time). Thoughts on the best way to do this? I can go directly to Zamosc from Warsaw, which takes about 6 hours, spend two nights there, get an early train to Lublin, spend the day there, and then catch the night train to Kyiv (leaves about 9 pm, I believe). Or I could do a night in each city. I know that Lublin is not really considered a "must see" but from what I've read, I think I'd find it very interesting for a day. Am I correct in assuming that Zamosc (two hours from Lublin and UNESCO site) is too "much" for a good day trip from Lublin?
Question #2: Lodz is another city that is intriguing me, though I think only for a short trip. Has anybody done Lodz as a day trip from Warsaw? At just one hour each way, it seems quite doable. If I stick with the above plan to go to Ukraine via Lublin, a day trip to Lodz from Warsaw seems to make the most sense. But if I were toss that plan, do people have thoughts on spending more time in and around Lodz?
Question #3: Pszczyna (mainly the castle) sounds wonderful. Given that I'm wrapping things up around Krakow (on my way to Prague), I thought about a stop here. I won't have a car, so my options are to take the train from Krakow (about 3 hours, with a change in Katowice), spend the night in Pszczyna, and then presumably leave the next day for Prague (via Katowice). Or, return to Katowice after seeing Pszczyna, spend the night, and take the train from there to Prague. Is Pszczyna a good place to spend some extra time, or would I do better in Katowice? I've not been to either place and am open to either. I also love trains, so I am not too discouraged by all the potential train-hopping discussed above.
If I haven't put you to sleep yet, thanks for slogging through my questions! Any insights, suggestions, alternatives would be welcome.