Wandering in Warsaw, Poland

Adventures in Poland are not ended. We still have few days to spend in the capital of the country, one of the biggest cities in Poland – Warsaw. It was a pity to leave Gdansk as that was something like a fairy tale city, but another long night on the way was waiting for us. This was a little bit hard to spend all night in the bus, but also was a good option to save on a hotel and not “waste” time on the way. 
We reached the city with the first rays of sun. The room we booked would be ready around 3pm but we had a luggage, which would be hard to carry on all that long hours while walking around the city until that time. Here the deposit boxes located in the central station came to help us. They were all automated, we just needed to choose the number of hours we’re going to leave the luggage and pay the bill, and there was a lock password given after the payment. Super easy and helpful in our situation. But what to do at 6am? Of course after the long partially sleepless night again McDonald’s came with its powerful teas and coffees. And the best part of this time was the view we had from the window – to the building of Palace of Culture and Science.

Perhaps Warsaw was the city with the most mixed architecture that we saw in Poland. Here you’ll see the old buildings from Soviet Union times, the small and again colorful Old Town, and in the line with this there are many modern high buildings. But modern architecture really inspires here. The buildings were made in odd shapes, different constructions, all admirable.

We had almost 2 days to spend here. Almost nothing exactly was planned, just walk around, visit the Old Town and some parks. The first places were seen by chance, while we were exploring all around the Central station, until we could go home. We just took the first street and started to walk. It was early morning, still cold and windy. Our parts brought us to the only remaining prewar Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw, built in 1902. Near the synagogue there was also a Renaissance style Roman Catholic All Saints Church, built in late 1800s. But next to these buildings from the past centuries there were modern high buildings made, all in strange unusual shapes, with shiny windows.

A bit far from those places we saw a tower made from red stones. We went to that direction through a small park and when we were in place, discovered that this area was inside the protected walls. On the information board was written that this is the Filter Station, also known as Lindley’s filters which construction was started in 1881. Now it’s listed in National Heritage Board of Poland!

And finally it’s time to go home. This time we had an apartment booked in Praga district, which is one of the most famous places for tourists. It’s a modern part of the city very close to the Old Town. Our apartment was not very far from the metro station Dworzek Wilenski, which was also close to the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene and one of the biggest shopping malls in Warsaw, Galeria Wilenska. The room was not big, but clean, with big windows that let the light come in. We spend a short time here to leave the luggage, rest a bit and then ran out to continue our walking tours.

Near our place was a nice quiet Park Praski, where people were jogging, walking with dogs or just enjoying the silence. After crossing the Slasko Dabrowski Bridge over Vistula River here we are, in the Old town of Warsaw.

To be honest with you, this time the Old Town was not that much inspiring as in the other cities we were during our trip in Poland. The short buildings were everywhere, some kind of colorful. In every steps there were small churches. And of course the main place where people were crowded was the main square, in another words – rynok. Here in the middle of the square you’ll see a Statue of Mermaid, which is a symbol of Warsaw. But the main mermaid is located somewhere else, about which I’ll tell you a bit later πŸ™‚ Actually you’ll see a lot of small and big “mermaids” all around, several statues and small signs in different places, so don’t be surprised!

And here you’ll see one of the major tourist attractions of Warsaw that connects the Old and New Towns, the Warsaw 4-tower Barbican, which is one of the main remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw starting from 1540. It was 14m wide and 15m high from the bottom of the moat, which surrounded the city walls, and extended 30m from the external walls. It was built to protect the city but was used only once in 1656 during the Swedish invasion. During World War II Barbican was largely destroyed, but was rebuilt after the war, as well as the other buildings of Old Town.

Walking by the river our steps brought us the the Copernicus Science Center. This place is housing interactive exhibits, robotic theater and planetarium. A huge complex where your kids will enjoy every corner. We just checked from the doors (as the entrance wasn’t free) and felt how the hundreds of kids were inspired inside. Their eyes were shining! So if you’ll be here with your kids, don’t miss a chance to bring them here.

And here, just in a few minutes of walk from this center you’ll see the main statue of Mermaid of Warsaw (Syrenka Warszawska). There are several legends about the mermaid. Some of them says that the Lille Mermaid of Copenhagen is the Warsaw Mermaid’s sister and they went their separate ways from the Baltic sea.

But the main legends says:

The main one used in the City’s literature and by tour guides says that the mermaid was swimming in the river when she stopped on a riverbank near the Old Town to rest. Liking it, she decided to stay. Local fishermen noticed that something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. They planned to trap the offender, but fell in love with her upon hearing her singing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the mermaid and imprisoned her. Hearing her cries, the fishermen rescued her, and ever since, the mermaid, armed with a sword and a shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents.

After feeling the wind in our faces next to the mermaid we continued walking. By chance we passed the building, in front of which were Indian God’s statues. We were interested and went inside. That turns out some Museum, that had exhibits from different Asian countries, showing their culture, the way of life. Some of the exhibits were also interactive. For example, you could play on some strange musical instruments, watch videos about the history of every exhibit, etc. And by the way, the entrance to the museum was free!

What was quite nice in Warsaw was that there are a lot of small and big parks. In one of them there was the Monument to the Glory to Sappers which was unveiled before the 30th anniversary of the end of World War II. The figure shows a kneeling soldier with a rifle on his back, disarming a mine. At the menorial are tablets with the inscription: “Free Warsaw will never forget those who lost their blood as the construction work began”, and the names and unit numbers of the 600 fallen sappers.

And here we are, in the best park of Warsaw, Lazienski gardens. The park contains several parts: Botanical gardens, Soccer Stadium, Venue for contemporary arts and events, Royal collections in summer residence, bronze sculpture of Chopin and Classical Palace & ex governmental seat (Palace Belwederski), etc.

There was some area in the park made in Chinese style, with lion statues, pavilions and small lakes, and it’s called Chinese Avenue. There were some people here making selfies and also a girl that was having a professional photo session in Chinese style. In a moment you’d forget you’re in Poland.

But more people you’d see a bit far, where dozens of squirrels were running, jumping and coming very close to people to take some nuts from hands. This was so cute and amazing, to feel them so close, touching your hands. It’s an indescribable feeling when you see that animals trust you.

This garden was so incredible that you could spend many hours here and not feel how time is flying. The main popular place here was the Statue of Chopin, where everyone comes to make selfie πŸ™‚ And there was also a small environment that played a music of great composer. I was not an exception and took a chance to have a photo with a legend πŸ™‚

And here we are at the most funny part of this story and our visit of the park. As I said, it was huge, with a lot of interesting spots, green paths surrounded with trees colored red and yellow from autumn wind. On every part of the park there was something interesting to see. One of them was 18th century Lazienki Palace on an isle with a Royal Museum.

But there was another palace that took our attention. This was a 17th century Palace Belwederski that was all protected with a fence. We were trying to find an entrance to the palace, but from the garden side there was no any way to enter. Also no people on that side was seen, so we went back and decided to check from the street side. There was a gate in front of which there were some groups of tourists taking pictures, but no one was going in. Also we saw guards behind the gate. So what is this that is so well protected and no one goes inside? Finally we saw a tablet on the wall, where was mentioned that this is a presidential residence and was not opened to public! What a stupid situation πŸ˜„

It was already getting dark. Little by little we were going home. Bought some sweets from the closest market and took a train home. Train in Poland was one of the best options to take. They worked like clocks, without any strikes, the same as metro. Yeah, by the way, there was a super great function in the metro. Every metro station had a small lift that was helping people with disabilities or with small kids, or just with heavy luggage to go up and down, instead of taking steps.

While traveling by train at night, look around from the windows. This huge city is shining in lights and gives another way of beauty to admire. Some people go for party, another ones hang out in pubs drinking beer, others just eat the most tasty Polish dumplings (or as locals say – pierogi) with big range of fillings. By the way, there was a perfect place in the old town, hidden in one of the narrow streets, called Zapiecek, but you will find it easily, because there is always a queue waiting for their turn to get in and have a perfect dinner, highly recommended πŸ‘

8 days in Poland, 6 cities in total. Kind of running a bit, sometimes overtired, but all the time super energized. Every day was different and every city had its own spirit, from each place we tried to collect the most interesting moments and save the best memories. Maybe Poland is not the dream place for many people to travel, but if you have that chance, use it and spend some days in this wonderful cities, where you can have all kind of activities, starting for historical places, cultural visits and ending with relaxing days at the beach. Plus it’s quite cheap and affordable, especially for budget travelers, such as us πŸ™‚ There was still a lot to see and to do there, but time is always not enough for all. We tried to have the most important paths and I hope you’ll find my stories interesting and maybe useful for your next plans.

Good luck and see you soon in somewhere else!

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