My stop in Poland was brief as best, mostly due to the fact I wasn’t really planning on going but unfortunately the visa strict Belarus lies between Ukraine and my next destination of Lithuanian. So I decided to stop over for a day rather than take the direct 16 hour bus. I hate buses…although ironically after my avoidance techniques I ended up on the worst bus of all to get to Vilnius…an overnight bus…but anyway, that’s another (and not nearly as painful) story.
I had visited Krakow, where my train arrived into, on my last trip around Eastern Europe and was keen to see something different so I skipped through and caught the first train straight up to the capital Warsaw, it had been a long journey on the train to get there and I was tired and hungry by the time I got to Krakow. This probably didn’t help me miss the fact there is actually a one hour time difference which was a bit confusing when trying to buy a ticket and I tried to argue with the ticket lady about it until she politely pointed out the time was in fact 3.30 not 4.30. But it was amazing how the train station people were helpful and spoke English! I managed to get a train leaving immediately and somehow ended up with a bag of M&M’s to eat…another healthy addition to my day of train station bought junk food. I had taken a slow train so arrived in Warsaw about 10.30pm, a long 16 hour day on the trains. I walked to my hostel and went straight to bed. I only had a day in Warsaw as I would leave on the evening on a night bus so I headed out alone for a mega day of walking and seeing a lot of stuff in a short space of time. It was actually really nice to be in a western style city, probably the most western place I had been so far.
I managed to get my bus ticket and walked around the wide streets and parks eventually getting to the Warsaw Rising museum which was about the fight against Germans and the Soviet invasion. Basically Poland was screwed by everyone, being in a bad location in terms of other people wanting your land. It’s always sad to learn more about how so many of these eastern European countries were screwed by both Germany and Russia for so long with one bad regime following the next. The Warsaw Rising was when Warsaw tried to hold out against the Germans but lost, the museum was really interesting and really well put together with lots of interesting information also lots of horrific scenes from the fighting and the concentration camps which are mostly around Poland. Very sad but a good museum, and made my walking around the city more interesting as I learnt a bit more about the important sites. Heaps of the city was destroyed but there is still a very impressive but touristy old town that I checked out with a really good market square.
I had a nice healthy lunch at a vege café to have a break from the incredibly stodgy Ukrainian food. As my bus wasn’t until 11 that night I went to a mall and window shopped in H&M and some other clothing shops, not that I can actually carry any more clothes, but it was nice to look around and not just look at churches and old buildings!
Back at the hostel I got chatting to an English guy and went to a jazz bar for a quick drink then it was time to get my bags and jump on the 9 hour bus to Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. So a short but action packed day in Warsaw, I actually liked the city, not many people do but I guess it was a nice change from other places I had been, and had people who were actually helpful and friendly! Like they actually wanted to serve me! Amazing!
The bus ride was actually good as there was an Aussie and an English travelling together-Tom and Hal and another Aussie guy, Joe sitting near me, plus a group of Romanian girls who spoke perfect English so I had a cool journey chatting to them and got a bit of sleep arriving nice and early in Vilnius where the 4 of us headed to our hostel.
Tags: blogsherpa, Poland, Poland #2, TRAVELS 2008, warsaw