Friday, 14 November 2014

Warsaw - Capital of Poland

My roommate and I found flights from London to Warsaw for £19 (£35 inc luggage) and we thought 'why not?'  Booked. Hostel booked.

A couple weeks later we remembered we need to get home somehow.  We had already discussed going to Krakow but flights from there, while still cheap, were expensive. We had a look at Skyscanner and saw that there were cheap flights out of Gdansk. 

We looked at the map, saw the Poland was about the size of Victoria and decided it wouldn't be that hard to get from Krakow to Gdansk. Another flight booked. 

So in the last week of October we packed our bag full of heavy winter gear - the weather report said it would get down to zero! brr!

We arrived into Warsaw around 4pm, got on the local bus that took us to the train station and that took us to downtown Warsaw.
The hostel we stayed at (TripAdvisor reviews here) did give us amazing directions but it was dark and a bit creepy, deserted looking when we emerged from the station. We flagged down a taxi and arrived at our hostel 5 minutes later. 

After settling in our room, our receptionist gave us directions to the closest restaurant serving gluten free food. Before leaving I had printed out a 'Coeliac Restaurant card' in Polish (this website has cards in almost every langauge) which spelled out what I can and can't eat.

La Cantina is an amazing Mediterranean restaurant and almost every dish comes gluten free! You can tell the difference as the chefs stick in little Bez Glutenu flags in the GF dishes.

I opted for a creamed sauce pizza and Cara went for a delicious sounding pizza - she got GF so we could go halfsies.


The food was so filling! Although we were stuffed from our mains, there is ALWAYS room for Creme Brulee!

We only had 2 nights in Warsaw so we were determined to make the most of our one full day. We found a free walking tour company (here) and did the Old Town Walking Tour with Blaise. Our tour guide had a lot of information on both the history of Warsaw and local legends.

During World War II around 90% of Warsaw was bombed and destroyed. After the war and during the Communist regime a lot of the buildings were restored and today it looks almost as if the city was untouched. 

market square
Warsaw has a rich history and is the home of a few famous people - Pope John Paul II and Marie Curie both hail from here. 

Marie Curie Museum
Marie Curie is the only woman who has received a Nobel Prize in two different categories - chemistry and physics. 
Narrowest house in Warsaw
Many would have heard the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but during World War II (1944) there was another Warsaw Uprising that involved all Poles. The Polish Resistance Home Army attempted to drive Nazi Germany out of Warsaw. The Uprising lasted for 63 days, with little outside support. The uprising ultimately failed and resulted in a massive loss of life through injury and mass executions.

A memorial showing the Polish Home Army using the sewer system to escape the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. 

The Old Town walking tour went for approximately 2.5 hours. The same company also offered a Jewish Walking Tour so Cara and I went of to lunch to wait out the 2 hours in between.

Blaise was our guide once again for our second tour.

The raised bit in the middle shows the walls of the Jewish Ghetto in 1940. 

Over the war years and with subsequent executions, rampant diseases and mass transportations, the ghetto got smaller and smaller.

As the ghetto was completely destroyed by the Nazis after liquidation, the boundary is now marked by pavers.

Our tour took us through what was the ghetto, which is now residential buildings, and ended at the Umschlagplatz memorial. 

This memorial stands where the Jewish people were gathered to be deported to the Treblinka Extermination Camp. On some days as many as 10,000 Jews were deported.

Warsaw is a vibrant city with a rich history and delicious food!. The 2 nights we spent there were definitely not enough and I would love to go back at some stage and explore the rest of the city.