Sunday, 17 March 2013

Day 1, 5th March 2013: Warsaw

Arrived at the main airport in Warsaw, and in Poland, Frederic Chopin, named after the famous composer. Our flights had originally been to the smaller Warsaw Modlin airport, which is some way out, but due to problems with the runway for the foreseeable future, our flight had been changed to come here. Fortunately, this worked out better for us, as it is only a short trip from the City centre, compared to Modlin airport which is a good 30 miles out of town and requires a relatively expensive and significant coach ride to the centre of Warsaw.

Palace of Culture and Science
We arrived at around 6pm in the evening, just as it was getting dark and took one of the shiny, modern new airport trains to the centre, and since it was part of the three-day public transport ticket (Bilet trzydniowy) we bought the journey did not cost us any extra. However, since it normally only costs 4.60 in Polish złoty (zł.) - around 95 pence - for this ticket, it still isn't particularly expensive. As in most places outside of the UK, public transport in Poland is a steal compared to the inefficient and overpriced system that reigns in the UK. We got out at the Central station (Warszawa Centralna) as opposed to the nearest station to our hostel, so as to be welcomed by the magnificient towering figure of the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki - abbreviated frequently to PKiN).

University gates on the Royal Way
Naturally, our priority was checking into the place we would be staying, which was located on Tamka street (Ul. Tamka), only a 5 minute walk from Krakowskie Przedmieście, the main thoroughfare in the centre of Warsaw, and part of the Royal Way (Trakt Królewski) that stretches from here to Warsaw's southern reaches and beyond at the palace in Wilanów. After checking in, time was marching on and we decided to take a walk down Krakowskie Przedmieście at night with a view to seeing the Old Town lit up (Stare Miasto). This proved to be a rewarding walk and introduced us to the delights of cosy bars, cafes and restaurants that looked extremely inviting in the frosty Winter air, and we made a bid to return later in the trip. We also saw a shop that sold some a variety of wonderfully colourful items made from Polish crystal - something to add to my collection when I'm a rich man, perhaps!

A selection of Polish crystal products in the Old Town
After viewing the Old Town and ambling around some of the streets, we decided to have a welcome to Warsaw drink, so as we were walking back along the Royal Way, we stopped at a bar where all drinks were 4zł (about 80p) - I indulged in a small glass of wine and Dad enjoyed a glass of beer. By this time it was well after 10, so after a tiring day of travelling, we decided to head back to the hostel and get our heads down for a nights sleep, ready for the exciting full day of sightseeing ahead of us the next day.

Link to Day 2:

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