At this point in time, a round-trip excursion into Poland from Berlin will only put you back 29 euros, and here’s the weird part: the ticket is good for up to five people. There’s no cheaper option (that I found, anyway) for just one person, and the experience is somewhat confusing, so here’s how it works: If you haven’t already bought the ticket online here, you can go to the vending machines at a Berlin train station (such as the Hauptbahnhof) and navigate (in English) through the options for buying a second-class round trip ticket to port city Szczecin. Some of the options will be for around 150 euros, which I’m assuming is what they would tell you it cost if you booked using a real live DB agent at the train station. Ignore these options and just pick the ones (outgoing and return) that say 29 euros. Then, mysteriously, you will be shuttled to a screen that says Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket, total: 29 euros. This is not a mistake. It’s just the name of the least-expensive ticket you can get to Szczecin. The ticket is also good for certain regional travel, and includes the S-Bahn in Berlin and Brandenburg. So, great! Now you have your ticket and you’re trying to read the German, and you realize you have no clue where this train to Szczecin is or when it leaves, because the ticket lists no destination and no platform. First of all: the ticket is good all day, and there are multiple departures. So you can do a couple of things: you can look for trains going to Angermünde (where you’ll switch) or direct to Szczecin (at certain times of day). The easiest thing is to march up to the DB information desk and ask when the next train is to Szczecin, and they’ll give you a print-out with the listed connection, if applicable. I left at 9:33 am on a weekday for Angermünde from the Hauptbahnhof, and in Angermünde followed the flux of Germans wheeling small suitcases to the rail cars bound for Szczecin. Note: you need your passport for the crossing into Poland; officials will come around on the train and check to make sure you’re legal. I arrived at my destination around 11:30 am and immediately studied the timetables back to Berlin. There was a direct train at 14:37, and another at 19:52, which was the last train direct or otherwise. Make sure you check; trains are subject to change.
Then it was down to business: wandering around and eating. Wandering around was good for somewhat random photography and getting a feel for Poland. Eating out was better: eating in Poland is substantially cheaper than in Germany — three reasonably substantial appetizers (self-styled “fine” chicken liver with apples, fried zucchini and feta-spinich perogis) were about 14 euro and constituted lunch and dinner. Most or all restaurants in Szczecin accept euros, though the prices are listed in zloty, the local currency. Having slept four hours in 40 or so, by the time I’d toured the old city and stuffed my face, I was exhausted and ready to head back to Berlin.