Sonntag, 1. Februar 2015

Nordural 1

Nachstehend nun Teil 1 meines Nordural-Reiseberichtes.

Einen Überblick über diese Reise, die im März 2014 stattfand, gibt es auf http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/foren/read.php?30,6907309 Um das geschriebene ggf. freizügig in internationalen Foren verwenden zu können, habe ich den Bericht auf englisch geschrieben. Bei einzelnen Bildern kann es sein, dass die eingebetteten Bilder zeitweise nicht direkt angezeigt werden. Klick auf den Link sollte aber ggf zum Bild führen. ------- day 1: Late evening departure from Wien Westbahnhof with the "Chopin"-overnight train to Warszawa. Usually a new PKP sleeping car is running between Wien and Warszawa, but on that day an older GDR-built waggon was used :-)

Timetable:

[code] +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Bahnhof | An | Ab | Zug Nr. | Bemerkungen | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Wien Westbahnhof | | 22:12 | D 406 |RP J2 SW LW | | Wien Meidling | 22:28 | 22:31 | | | | Breclav(Gr) | 23:38 | 23:38 | | | | Breclav | 23:43 | 00:25 | | | | Otrokovice | 01:00 | 01:01 | | | | Prerov | 01:16 | 01:19 | | | | Ostrava-Svinov | 02:00 | 02:02 | | | | Ostrava hl.n. | 02:09 | 02:11 | | | | Bohumin | 02:19 | 02:54 | | | | Zebrzydowice(Gr) | 03:11 | 03:11 | | | | Zebrzydowice | 03:15 | 03:17 | | | | Katowice | 04:15 | 04:20 | | | | Sosnowiec Glowny | 04:30 | 04:32 | | | | Zawiercie | 05:03 | 05:05 | | | | Warszawa Gdanska | 08:05 | | | | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ [/code]


 day 2: Due to construction works between Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia the train is diverted and arrives at Warszawa Gdanska. Fortunately the train to Bialystok, which we take a few hours later, also departs from Gdanska station, so we don't have to change train stations. „Chopin“ overnight train at Warszawa Gdanska. It conveys also direct cars from Praha and Budapest to Warszawa.
However, there are no lockers and no other possibilities to store the luggage at Gdanska station. We don’t want to spend the whole three hours at the station, so we have to walk with our backpacks to the Old Town, which is not that far away – about 20 minutes walk. Warszawa Old Town – still quite empty in the morning: While waiting for our train to Bialystok (which came from Katowice and is delayed by about 20 minutes) some suburban trains are passing the station: Finally the train arrives and we get on. Despite having only tickets for 2nd class, we have reserved seats in 1st class (to avoid the risk of sitting in a full 8-place-compartment) and plan to buy a class upgrade on the train from the conductor. We also tried to get this upgrade at Warszawa Gdanska station, but were told that this can only be issued on the train.

 [code] +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Bahnhof | An | Ab | Zug Nr. | Bemerkungen | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Warszawa Gdanska | | 10:55 | TLK45109 |RP FB EA | | Tluszcz | 11:56 | 12:04 | | | | Malkinia | 12:48 | 12:49 | | | | Czyzew | 13:03 | 13:04 | | | | Szepietowo | 13:15 | 13:16 | | | | Lapy | 13:36 | 13:37 | | | | Bialystok | 13:55 | | | | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ [/code] It’s time for lunch, so soon after departure we are heading to the buffet car for a „kotlet schabowy“ and a beer… To get to the line to Bialystok the train is routed via Legionowo – Radzymin and only at Tluszcz (35 km north east of Warszawa) it reaches the main-line to Bialystok. Due to our delay we have to wait for a passing train at a small station just north of Legionowo (the line between Legionowo and Tluszcz is single-track only), which increases our delay to about 45 minutes. Finally we arrive at Tluszcz: The line to Bialystok is – as many lines in Poland – currently being reconstructed. On many sections one of the two tracks is closed for reconstruction. Signalling at many level crossings isn‘t existing, this forces the train to slow down to 20-30 km/h quite often. At level crossings the „Andreaskreuz“ (the German term for the road sign indicating a level crossing) is often accompanied by a few other crosses to remember those, who didn’t survive crossing the rails… Track reconstruction: Arrival in Bialystok. The train continues to Gdansk: Our connecting train to Suwalki via Sokolka:
 

[code] +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Bialystok | | 14:50 | R 10403 |K2 EA OC KL PS | | Wasilkow | 14:56 | 14:57 | | | | Czarny Blok | 15:02 | 15:02 | | | | Wolka Ratowiecka | 15:06 | 15:06 | | | | Czarna Bialostocka | 15:10 | 15:10 | | | | Machnacz | 15:14 | 15:14 | | | | Rozedranka | 15:18 | 15:18 | | | | Gieniusze | 15:23 | 15:23 | | | | Sokolka | 15:29 | | | | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ [/code]


After about 40 minutes we arrive at Sokolka. Sokolka was choosen as overnight stop because it was the closest place to Kuznicka Bialostocka with some kind of accomodation. There seems to be no accomodation in Kuznicka, which otherwise would have been a better overnight stop because we could have slept longer there (the morning train to Grodno leaves quite early, but it stops at Kuznicka Bialostocka for one hour). In Sokolka, which is also just a small town, we stay at „Noclegi nad Karmazynem“ http://www.noclegisokolka.jcom.pl/ We found the place via Googlemaps. They have some guest rooms and are close to the station – perfect for an early morning start! Reservation was done in advance via phone (no English or German spoken, but with some improvisation and a mixture of Russian and Polish conversation I could arrange a reservation). The place is managed by a friendly elderly couple. We payed 30 Zloty per night for one person, that‘s about 7 EUR. Walk around Sokolka: The restaurant, were we have an excellent dinner: It is located some hundred meters north of downtown Sokolka on the main road.
Day 3: After an very early and quick start at 5h30 we walk to he station to catch the train to Grodno. A broad-gauge track from Belarus is also reaching Sokolka. It is used for freight trains:
Ticket from Kuznicka Bialostocka to Grodno (special cross-border tariff, ordinary fare would have been ridiculously high…about 15 Euro for 25 km…):
[code] +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Sokolka | | 06:34 | R 192 |K2 | | Kundzin | 06:41 | 06:41 | | | | Czuprynowo | 06:46 | 06:46 | | | | Kuznica Bialostocka | 06:51 | 08:01 | | | | Bruzgi(Gr) | 10:33 | 10:33 | | | | Grodno | 10:48 | | | | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ [/code]
The train to Grodno: We are having some kind of breakfast on the train. During most oft he time of the long stop in Kuznicka Bialostocka nothing happens. Polish border formalities only start maybe 15 minutes before departure. Waiting at Kuznicka Bialostocka: The line between the station and the actual border is fenced off: After crossing the border the train stops for a minute and Belarussian border police officers gets on. They are already checking documents, but the actual entry procedure only takes place at Grodno station. The officer on the train told us that after arrival at the station of Grodno we would have to buy an official health insurance for our stay in Belarus. My argument that we only have transit-visas didn’t help, according to the officer only passengers of transit-trains are excluded from the need of buying the insurance. However, it’s also possible to enter he country on a transit-train and with a transit visa, but get off later, e.g. in Minsk – and without an insurance. Anyway the insurance is quite cheap, so it's not really necessary to start a big discussion. Crossing the Neman river before arriving at Grodno station: After arrival all passengers (there were just about 15) are heading quickly to he station building, where the immigration formalities are taking place. Before we can proceed to the passport checkpoint a lady sells us the official health insurance – it just cost 2 EUR per person: We are leaving our luggage at the „kamery chraneniya“ – the price fort he left lugagge here is much lower than in Russia, maybe 50 cents or less, payabe of course with Belorussian roubles. I still have some Belorussian roubles from a previous trip in 2011, and although the value dropped by about 50% since then, it is enough for the left-luggage. At Grodno station: Station building: We start our walking-tour around Grodno: Svjato-Pokrovski sobor (Holy Protection cathedral), Ozheshko street: Pizza, Sushi, Kofe – imperialist western food in Belarus... :-) Park near Lenin square: Everything is kept clean and in good shape - typically for Belarus. Lenin square: From Lenin square we continue to uliza Sovetskaja, which is a pedestrian zone. On the left at the beginning of uliza Sovetskaja you can see the restaurant „Karchma“, where we plan to have lunch later. Modern trolleybus on Sovetskaja square: Catholic St. Francis Xavier Cathedral: „Ja ljublju tebja, Belarus!“ :-) War memorial with tank: Neman-river: Theatre:
The Kalozha church of Sts. Boris and Gleb: Gorodnichanka valley: The Catholic Cathedral from inside: Election information: Lunch at restaurant Karchma: We spent about half a million roubles… All our money: Back at the train station: Platform 1 is fenced off, that means that the afternoon train from Bialystok is due to arrive… This train was quite full, and so all passengers run to the station building after arrival, as everyone wants to be the 1st in the queue at the immigration checkpoint. TEP70 for our train to Minsk:
Our train is the no. 78 from Grodno to Moskva. We bought our tickets in advance via http://poezd.rw.by/wps/portal/home/rp The price level for domestic trips is very low, so we bought 1st class tickets (sleeping car with 2-bed compartments) for about 9 EUR per person:

 
[code] +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ | Grodno | | 16:56 | D 78BJ | | | Skidel | 17:26 | 17:34 | | | | Mosty(BY) | 17:57 | 17:59 | | | | Rojanka | 18:19 | 18:21 | | | | Lida | 19:00 | 19:08 | | | | Gutno | 19:18 | 19:24 | | | | Gawija | 19:46 | 19:48 | | | | Juratischki | 20:10 | 20:12 | | | | Bogdanow | 20:33 | 20:35 | | | | Woloshin | 21:03 | 21:05 | | | | Molodechno | 21:44 | 21:48 | | | | Minsk(BY) | 22:53 | | | | +-------------------------+--------+--------+----------+----------------+ [/code]

Our compartment: En route to Minsk: We have dinner in the buffet car and finally arrive punctually at Minsk station: For our stay in Minsk we have reserved a room at the Kingshostel. Booking is possible via hostels.com The hostel is quite centrally located near metro station „Nemiga“ (two stations away from the railway station, but with one change). From the metro station Nemiga it’s a 10 minute walk to the hostel. The entrance is at the backside of an huge appartment block. The frontside, which faces the Komsomolskoe lake, only has entries to shops and is totally deserted and dark at that time oft he day. The hostel is in a flat in the 11th and 12th floor. View from the room: Big Lukashenko is watching you :-) Formally we don’t stay at a hostel, but we are renting a room in subtenancy and are signing a contract for that: Good night!

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