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Trip Report

Lancashire
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Trip Report

As a solo traveller I passed some time in the evening by writing a diary of the day and thought it might be interesting to some people planning a trip to share my reflections. Sorry it's so long.

Day 1: After feeling quite pleased with myself for successfully catching the bus from the airport (175) and having checked in and drank some lovely hot chocolate in my room I thought it would be nice to explore the old town. The walk from the hotel to the royal way was boring but once on the royal way there were lots of interesting things to see - the poet's statue around which students hop for good luck, the palace where the Warsaw Pact was signed, and an open air exhibition of 1947 Warsaw in ruins. This was very moving but I was becoming increasingly aware that I was freezing. I followed the crowd to the old town and then started to look for the polish restaurant the guide book recommended. It was shut so, freezing by that point, I went to the Thai instead (Maharaja-Thai). It was ok but not brilliant

Day 2 - I went for a morning stroll to the park to see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and some statues and ended up having to run a bit on the way back to be in time for the bus for the Off the Beaten Path tour. This was stupid really as they drove round a load of hotels and then by 10.30 we were only round the corner from my hotel (at Plac Gryzbowski). The tour was well worth doing though. I was very moved by Prozna Street – the only street from the former Jewish district that remains as it was before the war is covered with photos through a crack in the courtyard gate there is a figure that you can only see from the back praying. It is Hitler I found it very powerful, the idea that he would be forced to kneel surrounded by all the suffering he caused, finally feeling remorse but too late but I imagine many don’t feel the same way. The guide said that if the courtyard wasn’t locked it would be set on fire in an instant, though it didn’t seem to me that it would be too hard to break in if you were determined to destroy it. As well as seeing the monument to the ghetto heroes, the remains of the ghetto wall and the Umschlagplatz monument, we saw Constitution Square - an impressive example of socialist realism. Here the fascinating thing was the way they built seemingly decorative structures in order to conceal the church just beyond the square so communist parades would not be in its shadow. The milk bar was an interesting experience but probably won't eat in another and definitely not a fan of beetroot juice. I wasn’t impressed with Praga – it seemed pretty miserable to me. However, we didn’t see an awful lot of it to be fair and I did really like the bar where we stopped at the end of the tour. After the tour I was dropped off at the uprising museum. This was definitely worth a visit and the audio tour was useful for extra information (though very lengthy.) One confusing bit of the museum is that after doing the ground floor you need to go all the way up to the top floor and then back down again to finish. As I was following the audio guide I got a bit stressed that I couldn’t find number 15! The City of Ruins film was also good to appreciate the scale of the destruction of the city. I walked back to the hotel and after a break went out again for a walk around the Palace of Culture (there is an ice rink in front of it which looked like fun) and I ate in the Hard Rock Café as I really fancied burger and chips.

Day 3 - After all the depression of the war, communist era and uprising museum yesterday, I decided to have a look at life in Warsaw in the good old days pre partition. I really liked Wilanow palace and glad I made the journey (buses 116 and 180 stop right near Wilanow Palace and go down the royal way). On the way back I stopped off at Lazienki park to see another palace, a real disappointment after Wilanow. The park itself is probably beautiful in the summer and the palace on the water a special sight but once it was covered in snow I felt it lost its uniqueness but perhaps I just take a dim view of it because I kept getting lost and walking round in circles! After that I needed a break and had a late lunch in a cafe nearby. It was really nice traditional polish food. Whilst there I eventually managed to work out where the gestapo museum was, I couldn’t find it in either of the guides I bought but it was in the free pdf I'd downloaded (Warsaw in your pocket). Unfortunately it was 10 mins after last entrance when I got there so I headed back towards the centre. On the way back to the hotel I stopped at Nozyk Synagogue, the only surviving warsaw synagogue which is completely surrounded by buildings and hidden from view so quite difficult to find. After that I went back to the hotel to swim and relax in the room. In the evening I went to look at the Chlodna Street bridge lit up but didn’t have much success finding places to eat around there so ended up eating at an Italian on Marshal Street.

Day 4 - I decided to get a tram from Marshal Street to the Tragutta park and to work back from there to castle square for the 11 o clock free tour. Tram delays left me slightly short of time but it was a nice walk and I saw the impressive uprising monument which is what I was most concerned about. The free Orange Umbrella tour of the Old Town was excellent (it’s not exactly free – you decide how much you give in tips and it’s so good that you’d be extremely hard hearted to take it for ‘free’) After that I wondered round the shops for a bit and then made my way down royal way sampling beer at Browarmia, cake at Blikle café, and real drinking chocolate in Wedel.

Tips/What I’d have done differently – I stayed in Radisson Blu which was a great hotel with an excellent breakfast and I got a really good price. However, it is in a fairly dull area of town. As a tourist you’ll probably want to spend a lot of time on or around the royal way and 15 minutes’ boring and cold walk to get there is frustrating. I wished I had spent a little extra on the Sofitel but I think this was partially because I was alone and also because I hadn’t packed my thermals! Buses are regular and cheap. You can get tickets from the driver if you have change but it’s better to get them in advance and the problem with that that the kiosks are shut on weekends. If I was to repeat my weekend I’d have probably opted for a travel card as I could then have hopped on and off for the sake of getting out of the cold for a few stops and not had the hassle of keep buying tickets. In general I was quite happy with how I’d planned my days except for missing out on the Gestapo Museum (I also missed out on the Royal Castle and Pawiak prison which I wanted to see but I struggled to fit them in as a lot of places close early on Saturday and Sunday and are shut on Mondays.) I could have got the uprising museum free on Monday but it was snowing on Saturday afternoon and I fancied being inside! If you’re looking to save money most museums do have a free day so this is worth looking out for, although most museums are fairly reasonably priced anyway.

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Warsaw
Warsaw
Mazovia Province, Poland
Umschlagplatz
Umschlagplatz
116 Reviews
Warsaw, Poland
Chlodna Street
Chlodna Street
31 Reviews
Warsaw, Poland
Stenhousemuir...
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1. Re: Trip Report

Hi,

Thanks for the TR. Good info for my trip in the summer :-)

What was the name of the bar in Praga?

Jane

NYC
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58 posts
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2. Re: Trip Report

Very comprehensive, Thank you.

My wife and I will be going in the middle of May. We are not young. You described much walking. Is it hilly? Your report implied that you felt secure the entire time. Do you speak Polish? Was speaking English a problem? What guide books did you use and was there dificulty with changing money?

Thank you,

Marty

3. Re: Trip Report

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Removed on: 21 February 2013, 18:06
Leicester, United...
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4. Re: Trip Report

Warsaw isn't hilly. Public transport is also comprehensive and very good value. Check out day tickets or longer. When we were in Warsaw for an extended time my wife toured Warsaw on her own - walking and using public transport and always felt safe. Safer than at home! Just usual precautions you'd take at home. She only had a few words of Polish. You will find many people, particularly younger ones, speak English. Trying a little Polish can be fun and if a visitor tries then in most Countries the "Locals" are even more helpful in my experience.

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Warsaw
Warsaw
Mazovia Province, Poland
NYC
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5. Re: Trip Report

Thanks!!

Your post was most helpful.

Marty

Jacksonville...
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6. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for the TR. Very helpful for my upcoming trip in May.

Lancashire
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18 posts
3 reviews
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7. Re: Trip Report

Jane - sorry, I can't remember the name of the Praga bar, I just remember that some of the tables were old sewing tables, complete with sewing machines! Adventure Warsaw might tell you, they probably go their all the time. On the other hand they might just want you to go on the tour!

Marty - as Tony said Warsaw isn't hilly and the public transport is good. I walked a lot because I like to see cities on foot and would have really enjoyed the walking in the summer but it was cold! In line with what Tony said and I said at the end of the report I would have in hindsight got a three day travel card so I could have easily hopped on and off the buses. Also, taxis aren't expensive so I wouldn't worry about walking at all, though it might influence your choice of hotel or you might decide to make more use of buses or taxis than I did. I felt very safe all the time in Warsaw, when walking alone in the dark I obviously stuck to well lit areas. I found the people helpful and again as Tony said English seemed common amongst younger people and in restaurants and at museums. My Polish was pathetic and hence not understood at all but pointing at where I wanted to go in the guidebook did the trick for making sure I was on the right bus! I used the DK Warsaw book which was good but very out of date - I got a second hand copy very cheap though so it was worth it for the maps which are brilliant. I also downloaded the Rick Steves Krakow, Gdanks and Warsaw which is a very readable guidebook but quite brief. The 'in your pocket' guide is excellent and free! http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/warsaw. I didn't change money but imagine it's straight forward. I changed some money before arrival and all the restaurants I ate at accepted card so I used a commission free credit card when I was running low on cash.

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Adventure Warsaw
Adventure Warsaw
794 Reviews
Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw
Warsaw
Mazovia Province, Poland
Krakow
Krakow
Lesser Poland Province, Poland
dallas tx.
Destination Expert
for Warsaw
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4,665 posts
22 reviews
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8. Re: Trip Report

can you ride a bike?....warsaw has big sidewalks and you take alot in fast....i loved renting a bike there last sept....it was a blast

Oslo, Norway
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9. Re: Trip Report

Thank you everyone for sharing tips. It's helping me prepare my itinerary for Warsaw.

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Warsaw
Warsaw
Mazovia Province, Poland
Durham, North...
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10. Re: Trip Report

Referring to what casey128 said, I do not recommend cycling on the sidewalks! It is illigeal in 99% of places and situations and you may be fined by the police. Stick to designated bike roads if they exist and if not - cycle on the street.