Hi! my wife and I are traveling through Poland and Hungary this June, and (for our peace of mind) would like to pre purchase the train ticket from Krakow to Budapest to insure a sleeper car. any advise on reputable agents to use? thanks much!
We went in the reverse direction in early July, 2010 as a family of 5. At that time, there was no way to pre-purchase tickets. We simply went to the ticket center in Budapest when we arrived for the tickets out three days later. There was no problem getting a couchette for all of us, even though this was probably the busiest time of year for them. However, you might want to consider other options. The night train has two issues; There is no AC, so if it's hot outside, you'll need to have the window open. Then, with the window open, the chatter at the frequent and lengthy stops will make sleeping a challenge. You see, the distance involved really isn't that far. So to make it function as a night train, they make long, seemingly purposeless stops. You might want to consider a day train, or a bus (many people prefer the bus); http://www.orangeways.com/en/budapest-krakkow If there is any chance you could drive in a circular route, that's easy, too.
I dont know your budget, but there are a few pretty wonderful sights between Krakow and Budapest. You might consider being driven. It will set you back $500 to $700, but you will have the opportunity to see some pretty special places. We are heading back for our second trip out of Budapest into Slovakia. The first was so great (in January this year, in the dead of winter) that we cant wait to get back again. I know some and know of some drivers if you are interested. Here is a teaser: http://www.mikulich.com/images/Jancik_Shroba/oravaCastle.jpg Happy Trials
You can book by calling RailEurpoe at 1-800-848-7245. You can book the tickets and reserve a sleeper or whatever type of ticket you choose. They will then mail you the paper tickets so you will have them in hand for the trip.
My wife and I made the same trip in August of last year. I'm not sure of the temperature when you will be traveling, but keep in mind that the trains are not air conditioned and you get very little air flow by opening the compartment window. We reserved a private compartment through the rail service. The train does make a lot of noisy stops (continuous announcements over loud speakers). If I were to do it again, I would have flown (it was roughly the same price).
Ryanair does have some midnight flights a couple of times a week.