We're planning our first trip to Poland and would appreciate hearing personal experiences and suggestions for accommodations in Gdansk, Torun, and Wroclow. We're hoping for budget-friendly, safe, clean, centrally-located hotels or b&b's with available parking. Does anyone have recent driving experiences in Poland? Thanks for sharing.
Is there a reason you want to drive? Because a car will be a giant headache in Wroclaw and Gdansk (no experience with Torun). Assuming that a centrally located hotel can provide parking, it is likely to be expensive. There's good and inexpensive train service between Polish cities, and it is easy to use the train system even if you speak no Polish.
Now there is a response that grabbed my attention. How is it easy when without knowing the language, you are virtually blind, deaf & dumb. I am going there soon myself and have no clue how to accomplish trains unless I buy the expensive Germany/ Poland Rail pass & reserve spaces ahead of time. And even then, I am not so sure---. Signed, Timid Me
Sharon, I would not worry about trains in Poland. I don't speak Polish and had no trouble buying train tickets. I went online on the German rail site's English language version and looked up the trains I wanted, when they left, if transfers were needed, and so forth. Then I showed up at the station, bought the tickets, checked the boards for which track my train was leaving from, and boarded. No problems at all.
At ticket windows, I would try simple English--"Two tickets for Krakow, second class, one way." As a backup, I had a piece of paper on which I had written the numeral 2 and the name of the city I was traveling to. And as a backup to my backup, I had dogeared the page in my phrase book with train ticket phrases. I never needed the phrase book at the train stations, though.
Point to point trains will almost certainly be cheaper than a railpass.
"How is it easy when without knowing the language, you are virtually blind, deaf & dumb." I speak virtually no Polish (I think "pivo" is the only word I remember) and I had no trouble navigating the train and bus systems there (I had a little trouble figuring out the Warsaw metro, though...). It isn't any different from the rest of Europe. You buy your tickets from an attendant who usually speaks English, you find your platform, get on the train, you make a few educated guesses about certain key words, and voila, you're there. It isn't hard. As a matter of fact, I think rail passes vastly, and unnecessarily, complicate many travel plans.
Sharon, perhaps you should talk to Lee, who also lives in Colorado. I don't know if he has been to Poland, but he is this forum's German Rail expert and I think he can probably put your mind greatly at ease.
If you go online, there is a Poland rail site that will take your questions (in English) and respond (in English). They promised me an international window with an English speaker at the station I'm starting at.
The most confusing thing about Polish rail, to me, is they seem to have different systems that use different tickets (more different than just higher prices for the faster trains). From what I've seen so far, the trains seem to be dirt-cheap (but I could be converting wrong).
I've never driven in Poland but have heard it compared to driving accross north-central US, flat. The mountains seem to be in the south and west border areas of the country.