Sunday, 10 April 2011


Warsaw is Poland’s current capital with a population of around 1.7 million.  It is situated on the Vistula River approximately in the centre of Poland. The birth place of Chopin.  We trained overnight from Slupsk on a sleeper…the realities of which certainly didn’t match up with my obviously rose-coloured memories of a twelve year old traveling from Brisbane to Albury!!!! 
We had certainly got enough hints from the locals we knew…Polish trains are worse than they used to be, but I thought how hard can it be?…you get on, lie down, roll over and sleep, particularly as we were smart enough to pay for a sleeping compartment containing only two beds- for Tony and myself.  Apparently, not soL

Firstly, having found our compartment and congratulating ourselves on how clever we were and how good it was to have a room by ourselves, the conducter knocks on our door.  We were told that they had only thirty beds available and forty bookings for them, so unfortunately the top bunk (of 3) was to be available for another passenger.   At least he could speak some English, which was a little helpful, so Tony calmly and moderately explained that we had made certain there would only be the two of us,” yes, yes of course” replies the conductor” but…you have no choice, would you prefer a male or a female to share?”…  Right!!
Secondly in my effort to have ease of access to the loo during the night, and rather than fall off, tread on or fall onto to someone else while doing so, I bagged the bottom bunk.  Thinking ahead, and rather clever of me I thought!  Eight hours of bone-breaking and teeth chattering clunking; head banging and feet squashing (as the train lurches forward and then comes to a complete halt) we arrive in Warsaw, woken at 5.30am by the conducter asking if we would like some tea!

We arrive at our accommodation having been rescued by Martin, as we got lost, and who escorted us. He was great.  The building the apartment was in was owned by Angelique, who leased out three areas for a tea room, coffee bar and pizza house.  Martin looked after the coffee bar as well as keeping an eye on guests of the apartment. He recommended this cute Pierogi café, two doors down..huge servings of traditional dumplings yum! yum!  We also ventured into his coffee bar with numerous choices on a menu dedicated to variety of taste, and flavour to tempt, and that afternoon, leg weary and foot-sore, we had a lovely relaxing tea  in the basement of the building, which housed the tea room.

We were right in the Old Town centre.  This was the area where the Warsaw Uprising happened; the place in which only a few partial buildings remained, at the end of WW2; where the people of Warsaw began to systematically re-build their city, firstly as people of the city then as people of a nation as the money became available for restoration, from the government. 

Standing on perimeter of the old wall

Part of the Square
Looking down from the wall

Old fortification - part of the wall
In their effort to replicate the original city, the current Old Town remains walled and separate from the rest of the city…it is beautiful and traditionalThe Royal Way leads away from the old town, past the Palace, to the Square, towards the University ofWarsaw. The plaza is filled with uni students, buskers, skateboarders, tourists and student groups ….teachers leading a line of two by two, the same the world overJ
We went to the palace, the only one this trip. The surprising thing to me was how ornate and rich the décor was; we have seen palaces in France and England, which this one would stand alongside.  I was expecting a more austere atmosphere,because of communism,  but there were gold gilded ceilings, furniture; beautiful crystal chandeliers, reflected in mirrored wall panels, making the room look bigger and more opulent; marble columns and figureheads of statues; a showcase for antiques, national and foreign  artwork..a really enjoyable place to spend time.  Later in the day, I went to find the front of the palace to take some photos and found an exhibition of a Polish sculptress who had never, until now, held an exhibition in her homeland and city of residence, even though she had around the world.  

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