Located on the Vistula River dividing the city into two parts to the left and right, Warsaw is the sprawling capital of Poland and has been since 1596.
Sad to leave Lithuania but as time is hurrying on during March 2015, crossed the border into Warsaw. Without any hassles at all at the border, it’s time to start travelling in a new country.
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Where is Warsaw?
There isn’t any shortage of sights in Warsaw and spending 6 days in this city is just not enough, so I must return.
Spending around 6 hours at the Polin History Museum of Polish Jews (entry 25PLN), you need a couple of days as there’s so much to absorb.
The amazing new museum built on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto is very impressive and a 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 is spent afterwards as there’s too much information to absorb in one 6-hour hit.
Unfortunately, as with all museums, the fee is once-off so can’t be used over several days.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
This museum (18PLN) certainly has a lot of historical information on display presented objectively and poignantly.
Allow around 6 hours or more for the museum, especially if you like to read most things when in a museum.
This is an excellent introduction to Warsaw’s history and the Polish people, 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.
Wandering around Warsaw’s Old Town in the glorious sunshine…
…it’s not long before coming across very beautiful architecture.
A replica of the original town built during the Medieval ages, the original Old Town 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 on arriving, 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 are in storage with just the pedestal left behind.
Also, the palace didn’t open to tourists until the 1st of 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.
The flash LUX Express Lithuania bus (€17) leaves from the Vilnius bus station 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, and warm, and there’s a 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.
Bring snacks and water for the journey as the bus doesn’t stop for a meal, but does stop for toilet breaks – there is also a toilet on board the bus.
The only way I know that the bus crossed the border into Poland is by my phone alerting me with the message “welcome to Poland” and the usual roaming charges info – no border checks. 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 180 days, so now we’re on a timeframe.
Booking a cosy chic studio apartment on Airbnb, the apartment offers everything needed 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.
Bartosz is eager to help with excellent suggestions of sights and local restaurants. City maps, brochures, and a guidebook are provided in the apartment.
Cooking most meals in the apartment helps keep the daily budget down, so only indulge in the daily coffee and cakes.
If you need a fast-food fix then there isn’t a shortage in Warsaw, with McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut 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
Check out the Green Café Nero for a great coffee amongst a lovely ambience at one of these cafes, but at 10PLN it’s not the cheapest around.
The Besamim Restaurant
Spend any length of time at the Polin museum and you’ll need a coffee.
The coffees are good at this restaurant and reasonably priced for a museum’s restaurant.
Cafeteria-style but higher quality, offering many traditional Polish dishes, which look delicious – Kosher food is also available.
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 is 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 this 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.
In the Arkadia Mall, this supermarket is a great stop for groceries and to keep costs down as the apartment has a kitchenette with good utensils.
As expected, this French supermarket sells freshly baked bread and pastries, and loads of chocolate – you won’t want for anything.
Without a concrete plan or travel route through Poland, Lublin sounds 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.