Warsaw

Warsaw is an interesting place. Spread out over quite some distance along the Vistula River the middle of the city is alive with restaurants but with older parts (though none much older than the second world war due to the havoc wrecked by the Russians) and a young population that is determined to look forward rather than dwell in the past.

Part of the Jewish Ghettos of the 2nd World War

This is obviously an eastern European country if you look around at the buildings and try the food. The people here speak Polish but often they will understand basic English…just do not assume they will.

Weather

The weather in the summer can be quite pleasant but the winters are often very cold (-20°C not being too unusual) though not a lot of snow.

Visiting

Poland is part of the EU and visitors entering Warsaw from other Schengen-member countries do not require a visa but must show valid ID (such as a passport). A three month (90 day) visa is available for visitors.

Things to See and Do

I had a bit of a guided tour that took in much of the centre of the city…though in the winter. A good place to start is walking along Nowy Swat from the middle of the city north where you go past the presidential palace then eventually get to “Castle Square” where you can head to the left and visit the “Old Town”.

Pałac Prezydencki ("Presidential Palace")

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Ok, you can't go in but the Pałac Prezydencki is an impressive site off of “Nowy Swat”.

Plac Zamkowy ("Castle Square")

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The heart of the city. This square leads directly to the “Old Town” (see below) but is also generally home to various markets and community events.

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Palac Kultury i Nauki ("Palace of Culture and Science")

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The Palac Kultury i Nauki is home to various exhibitions but is also striking with it's tall tower that offers tremendous views of the city. The tower is the tallest in Poland and was given as a “gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation” - a smack in the face to the Polish after the devastation the Soviets caused.

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Ogród Saski ("Saxon Garden")

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This park is the oldest in the city with a “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” that is regularly guarded…in any weather. There are a number of sculptures and a magnificent fountain in the middle.

Old Town

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The “old town” has been rebuilt since it was destroyed in the second world war exactly as it was though seems a bit sterile, perhaps the weight of history is too much for it. In the winter the square is generally used for ice skating and markets.

Eating Out

Having lived in a city with a number of Ukrainians over the years I have developed a taste for “pierogi” which are simply small dough dumplings often stuffed with mashed potato and cheese…but that can vary. Give this I made an effort to try them in Poland so visited Zapiecek, perhaps not the fanciest but it offers a great assortment of pierogis - both steamed and fried, as well as savoury and sweet. I did also try some rather up-market establishments including Biala Ges (“White Goose”) which has, unfortunately, recently closed - Amazing food and like you were eating in someone's house.

Getting Around

There is a fairly limited metro/underground service (which is in the process of expanding), trams and also buses that cover pretty much the whole of the city. Timed tickets are available that are good on any transport within a set period of time - Remember when using transport to validate these tickets on entry. Taxis are plentiful but do not expect cabbies to speak English - have someone write out your destination and, if staying in a hotel, remember to bring one of their cards so you can get home.

Further Information

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