A day in Poland

20.25 Söndag, 7 April, 2013

On my way to Italy for Easter break, I made a one-day stop in Warsaw, Poland (mainly because overall it was cheaper than flying directly to Italy, but also because I wanted to visit Poland).  I arrived around noon on Thursday morning (March 28) and found my hostel, then went sightseeing in the city for the rest of the afternoon and the following morning.  On Friday afternoon, I went back to the airport to go to Rome.

Polish Flag

The Flag of Poland

Map of Poland

Map of Poland – Warsaw is called Warszawa in Polish

Since I didn’t really know much about Warsaw or Poland before I arrived, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I actually found the city to be very interesting, and there is much more that I would like to see if I ever find myself in Poland again!

One of the most interesting things about Warsaw is that during World War II, it was completely destroyed by the Germans.  In fact, in 1939, the population of Warsaw was over 1.3 million, while in 1945, only a few thousand people lived there.  After walking around the old town for a while and seeing the city center, I took the suggestion of the hostel reception and went to a museum called the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which was very interesting and well worth the 30-minute walk to the other side of town!

The Uprising Museum was about an event that occurred during World War II in which the people of Nazi-occupied Warsaw attempted to push the Germans out of their city.  The battle lasted for over two months before Hitler decided he was fed up with it and ordered the city to be leveled.  So, ultimately the people of Warsaw lost and the city was in ruins after the war.  It was very interesting to go through this museum because the people fighting the Germans were mostly untrained and poorly-equipped, so all of the citizens contributed to the effort, including women and children.  The museum had some interesting first-hand videos showing daily life during the battle and also a neat 3D flyover film of the ruined city.

The Little Insurgent Statue

‘The Little Insurgent’ Statue

Probably one of the most surprising things to know when walking through Warsaw is that essentially every building was built after World War II – including the medieval old town!  Yes, the old town was reconstructed during the past 50 years after being destroyed – it was reconstructed so accurately, in fact, that it is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.  If you didn’t know it was so new, you would have thought it was hundreds of years old, because it was rebuilt so well.

Buildings in the Old Town

The Old Town Square

Zamek Królewski - The Royal Castle

The Royal Castle

Kościół świętokrzyski - Holy Cross Church

Holy Cross Church

Plac Zamkowy in the Old Town

Zamkowy Square

Pałac Kultury i Nauki - The Palace of Science and Culture

The Palace of Science and Culture

One of the things I saw in the old town was the Marie Curie museum, located in her house (or, a rebuilt version of it).  Although Marie Curie is best known for being a ‘French’ scientist, she is actually from Poland.  Another interesting thing that I learned that is kind of funny is the fact that the main (and most famous) street that goes through the center of Warsaw is called Krakowskie Przedmieście, which actually means ‘the suburbs of Kraków’ (Kraków is another major city in Poland).  I wonder how it got that name…

On Friday morning, I walked down a large street containing many parks and embassies.  Along the way, I saw things such as the presidential palace and a musical bench!  After that, I took the bus back to the airport to head to Rome.

A public bench that plays Chopin's music

A bench that plays music by Chopin, who was Polish

Before I end this post, I should say something about the food, because I tried as many of the places recommended by the hostel as I could in a 24-hour period!  Of course, I had a pączek, the traditional Polish jelly doughnut!  I then had dinner at a traditional Polish restaurant where the menu consisted almost entirely of different types of dumplings.  I was very surprised to see, though, that they were almost all sweet – most of the main courses were some type of fruit-filled dumpling, and there were only a few that contained non-sweet fillings such as mushrooms or meat.  I had the dish that the waitress recommended, which was blueberry-filled dumplings topped with whipped cream.  It was delicious, and when I was finished, I was asked if I wanted cake – apparently, in Poland it is common to have sweet dishes for both dinner and dessert!  As a snack on Thursday afternoon, I had an interesting Polish thing called a zapiekanka, which is half of a baguette with cheese, pepperoni, and ketchup on top.  It sounds strange and looks even stranger, but it was actually very good!  I decided that I had to try one because I saw that they were sold everywhere, and there were many people walking down the street eating them, so I figured they must be popular.

A zapiekanka

A zapiekanka

About Aaron

Hej – I'm Aaron! When I'm not working my regular job, I love to travel, study languages (svenska anyone?), and learn about history and culture. I'm also a "pandemic cook" attempting to learn the secrets of Indian cuisine from my apartment in Texas!
This entry was posted in Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A day in Poland

  1. Aunt Mazie says:

    Hello my sweet nephew,
    Jenny and I spent two weeks in Poland in 1991. Our trip was intended as a mother/daughter/ Euro vacation and we were lucky enough to be hosted by my Polish tennis partner, Sophia, who was planning a trip to visit her relatives at the same time. It was not that long after Lech Waleska(sp.) opened Poland and westerners were able to travel freely about. However, When Jenny and I got off the train from Vienna(through communist Cechoslovakia…another story) and tried to call my friend to pick us up, we found NO ONE who spoke English! I don’t remember how we managed, but we finally got someone to call the number we were given. My friend was soon there. Her family lived just outside the city and we had the best two weeks of our month long vacation eating and drinking our way through Poland!
    Krakow is a must see- as is sadly, Auschwicz(sp.). I am glad you took the time to visit Poland. The Poles are some of the warmest and most creative people I have ever met. During Chopin’s time, Poland was the cultural hearth of Eastern Europe.We did not visit the Uprising Museum, but we loved the Palace. It cost us $12.00 for all four of us (Sophie and her son)to get a private day tour of the city. 100 Zwotys(sp) bought us an ice cream which was 10 cents U.S. I must look for our album to show you so that you can compare the views. There were only one Department type store and I remember that there were used clothing for sale! Jenny can tell you some stories . Love Auntie

    • Aaron Braden says:

      Hi Aunt Mazie!
      That sounds like a very interesting trip! It’s great when you can stay with a local and see how they live (and eat, of course)! It seems like a lot of things have changed since you were there. A lot of people (especially younger people) that I met spoke passable to pretty good English (although some of the older people didn’t speak English at all). Also, 100 zlotys now is over $30! The people are still friendly, though; a lady on the bus helped me for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out the automatic ticket machine, because it wasn’t giving me a ticket. Eventually, we realized that it was out of paper, and I had actually paid for several tickets!

      • Aunt Mazie says:

        Priceless. Did you have enough time to use up those tickets? The ticket scenario is the kind of little mishap that we can laugh about twenty years later!
        One of the three homes we stayed in was two storied and just 10 minutes by car from Warsaw. I remember waking up on the first morning and looking out the window at the beautiful countryside and seeing a man riding down the lane in a horse and buggy. He was the milkman! We had the most delicious blueberry blintzes that morning.
        Do the children still pick jars of the yummiest and largest bluberries for sale along the roads? (about 25 cents then for a quart jar)! I am sure there are lots of stores around and eventually the “convenience store” will replace the open markets and roadside stands…but …
        xxx Auntie.
        ps Ask Jenny to tell you about our night out at Maxims in Krakow. I really do not know what I am doing with this computer stuff. You always said that you would get me hooked up! I just love reading about your experiences. You are a young version of Rick Steeves(sp) xxxAuntie

      • Aaron Braden says:

        Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the tickets, because I didn’t even have them, I had only paid for them, and also I was on my way back to the airport, so it was my last bus ride!
        I didn’t see any milkmen or people selling blueberries on the side of the road, but on the menu of the restaurant where I had the blueberry dumplings, it said that all the blueberries were from Poland, so they must still grow them there!
        Haha, It seems like you’re figuring out the computer stuff pretty well though! I saw that you even figured out how to subscribe! I got an email congratulating me that I now have a subscriber!

      • Aunt Mazie says:

        My sweet dear, sometimes I just click the most obvious button and get it right. Other times I get e-mail from people selling God knows what, and I just promptly send those messages to “spam”, a trick your Uncle Jerry has taught me. But thank you, I am a slow learner , but once it penetrates the gray matter…look out!
        p.s. love the photo at the pub in Ireland. I also love the Irish. On one of your treks, go to Trinity College and look at the book of Kells…you will have a new respect for the word “icon”. Those scribes/monks must have had way too much time on their hands to achieve such perfection…and all before Photo Shop!
        This is so much fun to have a conversation from so far away. I am thinking there is about a nine hour difference? Are you getting sleepy? It is a beautiful, sunny , warm afternoon here. I am about to take a break from playing bridge on the computer and take a walk. Life is good. Cheers, Auntie

      • Aaron Braden says:

        Haha, don’t worry if you have problems with the computer…even I have trouble with them sometimes, when they’re being dumb!
        Next time I’m in Ireland, I’ll definitely go check out the Book of Kells (no pun intended!), and there’s so much more in Ireland that would be neat to see as well!
        Yes, I am indeed 9 hours ahead of you! As I’m writing this, it’s almost 1:30 am – I was out with my friends this evening. We also had a beautiful, sunny, and ‘warm’ day today – and by ‘warm’, I mean in the upper 30’s! Even though I’m from the Texas heat, I still had my window open today to let in the fresh air!
        You’re right though, I am getting tired now… -.-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s