Located on the Vistula River, which divides the city in two parts (left and right banks), Warsaw is the sprawling capital of Poland and has been since 1596.
Sad to leave Lithuania but as time is hurrying on, crossed the border into Warsaw without any hassles at all, to start travelling in a new country.
The flash LUX Express Lithuania bus (€17) leaves from the Vilnius bus station, which is behind the train station at 14:45hrs; and takes around 8.5 hours on pretty good roads and flat countryside. The final destination for this bus is Berlin so don’t fall asleep and miss your stop!
The bus offers wi-fi, is very comfy, warm, and touchscreen TV on the seat in front of you, just like on a plane; caught up with The Monuments Men. The bus does stop several times during the journey for toilet breaks, or to pick-up/drop-off passengers.
Tip: Bring snacks and water for the journey as the bus doesn’t stop for a meal stop, it only stops for toilet breaks (although there is a toilet on board the bus).
The only way I knew that the bus crossed the border into Poland was by my phone alerting me with the message of “welcome to Poland” and the usual roaming charges info (no border checks or anything). Poland is one hour behind Lithuania, so it’s an 8-hour bus trip…2 hours to go yet.
Found out a few weeks ago that Australians are only allowed to stay in Schengen-agreed countries (pretty much the whole of the EU these days) for 90 days within a 180-day period, so now we’re on a timeframe.
There isn’t any shortage of sights in Warsaw and spending 6 days in this city is just not enough – must return.
Spent about 6 hours at the Polin History Museum of Polish Jews (entry 25PLN) but you really need a couple of days – there’s just so much to absorb here. Amazing new building built on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto; it’s a very impressive state-of-the-art building. The museum documents and celebrates the 1,000-year history of the Jewish community in Poland, which was decimated by the Holocaust. My head was spent afterwards – too much information to absorb in one 6-hour hit, unfortunately, as with all museums, the fee is a once-off fee and can’t be used over several days.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
This museum (18PLN) certainly has a lot of historical information on display presented objectively but poignantly. Allow about 6 hours or more for the museum, especially if you like to read most things in a museum.
This is an excellent introduction to Warsaw’s history and the Polish people but particularly if you plan on visiting any of the concentration camps in Poland.
The museum commemorates the Rising, which began on 1st August 1944, at 17:00 and continued for two and a half months – an incredible effort by the Poles to drive the Germans out.
Wondered around Warsaw’s Old Town in the glorious sunshine; very beautiful architecture.
This is a replica of the original town built during the Medieval ages as the original was reduced to rubble during the World War II bombings. After the 1944 uprising, the Old Town was meticulously rebuilt using as many of the original bricks from the rubble as possible.
Take the metro train from the Warsaw station to Wilanowska and when you arrive, turn right at the front of the station, then it’s about a 15-minute walk to reach the palace grounds.
Interesting sculptures are positioned around the grounds but as it’s winter, most were in storage with just the pedestal left behind.
Also, the palace didn’t open to tourists until the 1st April, so we didn’t get to see inside. The grounds and outside of the palace are worth visiting – pleasant just sitting there for a while.
Booked a cosy chic studio apartment on airbnb, which offers everything you need for self-catering.
With central heating, this tastefully renovated apartment is only a 10-minute walk to the Old Town and very central to everything.
Bartosz and Anna (owners) are excellent hosts, very welcoming, and even picked us up from the bus station to drive us to the apartment. Bartoz is eager to help with excellent suggestions of sights and local restaurants. City maps, brochures, and a guide book are provided in the apartment.
Cooked most meals in the apartment to keep the daily budget down, so only really went out for coffee and cakes.
Although if you need a fast-food fix, there isn’t a shortage in Warsaw, with McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut being some of the popular ones.
You can usually pick up a sausage in a bun from the holes in the wall, which seem to be dotted around the city. You’re also spoilt for choice with tea and coffee shops.
- Green Café Nero – A great coffee and lovely ambience is experienced at one of these cafes but at 10PLN, it’s not the cheapest around.
- Carrefour (in the Arkadia Mall) – Shopped at this supermarket for the whole time to keep our costs down and as the apartment has a kitchenette with good utensils. As expected, this French supermarket has everything including freshly baked bread and pastries (and loads of chocolate). You won’t want for anything here.
- The Besamim Restaurant (Polin Museum) – Spend any length of time at the Polin museum and you’ll definitely need a coffee. The coffees are good here and reasonably priced. The restaurant is cafeteria-style but of a higher quality and offers many traditional Polish dishes, which looked delicious; Kosher food is also available.
- McCafe – Although I try to avoid McDonald’s like the plague, especially coffee at a McCafe unless it’s out of sheer desperation, tried the McCafe at the Central Railway station whilst waiting for the train to Lublin. This was the only place with enough room to accommodate our big backpacks. The coffee is real but weak and averaged-priced. Be warned, it costs 2PLN to use the toilet at the McCafe, which I think is rude but it keeps the beggars out! You put the coin into the machine, receive a paper ticket, and walk through a turn-style to enter; flash for a toilet!
Leaving Warsaw for Lublin
Without a concrete plan or travel route through Poland, Lublin sounded like a good option as any for the next stop.
The train (37PLN) from Warsaw to Lublin leaves at 12:50hrs (other times are available) and should take 2.5 hours; 1st and 2nd-class carriages are available.