Our last few days in Poland were just further proof of how much we love this country. Although we were extremely sad to leave Monika and our home in Torun, our anxiety was quickly allayed by the presence of our friend Will, who greeted our arrival at the lovely Oki Doki Hostel. We met Will in Sighisoara, Romania and became fast friends. When he wrote and said that he was going to be in Poland we arranged to meet up in Warsaw. Now some people told me that Warsaw is ugly, pretty boring, and that generally everyone who lives there hates it. Well, perhaps it was just the presence of friends like Will, Tomek, and Anya, but Warsaw was pretty amazing as far as we can tell.
We spent the first evening walking around the glorious Old Town area which was completely destroyed during WWII, only to be painstaking rebuilt based on an Italian artist’s paintings of the city. Yes it’s a tourist trap, but tourists have lovely taste in scenery. Staying up ridiculously late then necessitated sleeping until noon. We awoke to a nasty, rainy day, but that didn’t stop us from taking to the streets in search of food. We have our priorities, after all.
We then met our friend Tomek and another of Monika’s friend’s named Anya and headed to a hookah bar called Bollywood. Apparently one bar just wasn’t quite enough because we then hit happy hour at our hostel and ordered another round. Well happy hour only lasts an hour, so the only logical thing to do was to head to another bar. More specifically C K Oberza, which served large platters of sausage and one liter beers.
It’s little wonder that the night ended like this…
After another morning lost to a serious need for unconsciousness, we managed to drag our wasted shells over to the Warsaw University Library. This gorgeous green building has a stunning rooftop garden whose gorgeous views of the city and the river did much to relieve whatever lingering headaches we might have had. Soon after we headed to the west side of town to meet up with Tomek and tour the Catholic and Jewish cemeteries. Guess which picture represents which.
Our last day was spent doing some more war touring. For Americans and Australians like ourselves, the idea that something as catastrophic as WWII could have happened on the ground that we were standing on was a little too mind-bending to grasp. Luckily Warsaw has done a good job of preserving and commemorating much of that history. We visited the Pawiak Prison, which held thousands of Polish prisoners and managed to kill just about all of them. Their displays of both prison cells and various war memorabilia, including some heart-wrenching sketches from the inmates, were devastating. It’s the type of thing that you want to take a picture of, but then have a hard time looking at the pictures later. The next museum was much more uplifting. If you ever find yourself in Warsaw, be sure to make a trip to the Warsaw Rising Museum. Not only does it commemorate an incredible event, it’s also one of the most impressive museums we’ve ever been visited.
For more pictures from Warsaw, click here.
The Oki Doki Hostel has a happy hour from 7pm-8pm. For less than $4 you can double fist two half litre beers. If all goes well you can stick around and enjoy the party afterwards.
For cheap, healthy food, head to GreenWay where you can get vegetarian cusine that would make any serious carnivore consider a change of heart.
It’s free to enter the Pawiak Prison (though you can leave a donation) and certainly worth the visit. Their collection of new articles about the war come from around the world and some of the pictures are heart stopping.
The Warsaw Rising Museum is inexpensive and impressive. If you really want to learn about this event, plan to spend two days there. For anyone who really loves museums, this one will blow you away.
The Warsaw University Library gardens can be accessed for free by walking through the main door and out the back entrance. The gardens extend from the back of the building, up the side, and then onto the roof. Bring a book and relax among the weird and wonderful combination of industrial and natural.
If you plan on spending the entire day touring the city, get your hands on a public transportation map and then buy a full day ticket for 9zl. They are good for 24 hours.