The old town by night, Royal Baths by day, a meal of traditional pierogi(dumplings) and a general mooch around the Centrum area.
Stepping from the train, Central Station (Centralna) was like many others. On leaving the station, I saw I had arrived in Warsaw. I head for the ‘Frying Pan’ (the locals meeting place), where I met Karol Oblekowska, 29. Karol moved to Warsaw over 10 years ago and told me: “If you only have time for a few things in Warsaw then you must visit the Old Town and the Royal Baths. You must also eat at the Pierogarnie (Dumpling House)”. I took his recommendations.
After spending more than two weeks in Poland, I had just 24 hours to explore the capital.
With a love for Polish dumplings, we headed towards the old town and to Zapiecek. The restaurant is typical Polish in all aspects of food, decor and dress. Very reasonably priced, expect to pay up to 30zl for a main course.
The menu is an array of dumplings. My fellow diners were easily pleased. I however, was a little more difficult, tasting 7 varieties. For sure the waitress and chef were both thrilled. My favourite turned out to be the blue cheese.
Over dinner, the history of Warsaw was discussed.
After WWII, the deserted ruins that had been looted and either set on fire or blown up were to make Warsaw known as the most destroyed city in history. There are no original buildings from before the war although they have succeeded in rebuilding its historical charm.
Walking around the old town and city walls felt like a film set or open air museum. Everything is big and spacious and I felt a great sense of awe. The wide cobbled streets which you would expect to be narrow, are clean and well kept. The streets feel safe, the architecture is colourful and although the city has a sad past there is nothing grim about it now.
My hours in daylight were spent between the Royal Baths and Plac Defilad.
Plac Defilad is where old and new meet. The modern tower blocks and glass shopping centre are a sharp contrast against the old brick soviet buildings of the palace, museum and theatres.
Here, in the Zlote Tarasy shopping centre I use the cloakroom (Szatnia). Costing only 3 zl to leave my hand luggage until I’m ready to get the airport bus. I also planned to eat nearby before leaving for the airport as Polish street food is super tasty, cheap and filling. The delicious burger I had cost a mere 7zl.
The Royal Baths Park and Museum is set in Srodmiescie and is easily accessible by bus or metro. A 24-hour city transport ticket costs 15zl from any machine.
Covering an area of 76 hectacres the gardens are vibrant with colour and life. They are free to enter and are home to red squirrels and various birds. There are museums and galleries around the grounds that you can enter for a fee. Individual prices vary, a combined ticket costs 45zl.
It was September and the weather glorious, a talking point amongst locals as the Summers are getting longer and Winters milder.
But for me it was time to say farewell to Warsaw and Poland.
Do następnego razu!