Published: July 30th 2010July 25th 2010
July 24 - Daria did indeed get up just before 5am to get the early train. I did not. But I was up around 6:30am and getting ready, having breakfast, packing up the last bits. It still looked like rain but I thought perhaps it would hold out. It didn't - it started to rain just as I made it to the bus stop. I got a bit wet walking to the bus and then to the train station from the bus. I managed to make an earlier train than planned, which was nice. Annoyingly, there is no information on the ticket saying what time the train comes, which platform, when it will arrive, so it was lucky I had the print out that the girl from the hostel gave me for the 8:15am train so I could compare stops and times to know when to get out. In the end, everyone got out there anyway, so it wasn't too hard. The ride took about three hours or so and I got a bit of planning in, trying to decide which museums to go to and when.
When I arrived in Warsaw, I asked at information for a map, where
the trams were, tram passes, and museums. The woman could have been more friendly, but she did give me a great booklet with all the Warsaw museums. I bought a three day public tranport pass, since I was going to need to get the tram into and out of downtown each day. Good value. I found the tram outside and it was easy to get to the right stop. Looking at the town as I passed through I knew I was going to like Warsaw. It felt alive, like a real city. It is not beautiful, but I was liking it already. It even had a TJ Maxx, a store I would have loved to have found just yesterday when I had to invest in a new bag! Damn. Getting to the hostel from the tram stop was a bit of a hassle. The directions did not make sense to me. I was supposed to find a grocery store and turn left, keeping it on my right. But it was on a circle and there was no left possible. Eventually I did find it somehow and then got better directions to and from for the future. The hostel itself is
actually pretty nice. And seemingly quiet. There are two common rooms, one that is quieter, which is of course where I am. I have not even ventured out to the other. There is also free breakfast and free laundry. Though this laundry is better than all other places as they actually do your laundry for you. You just have to drop it off by 10pm and you get it back in the morning. Very cool. I am in a four bed dorm with one other person. I paid for fewer people in the room. Not a bad choice I think.
I got my stuff set up in my room and then had a look at the museum guide to see if the information I had was right. There are so many museums here! And many of them had free days once a week, most of those on days I would be here, so I made a plan for today. Then I went into town. I was planning to get a kebab for lunch nearby and then go to the National Museum, but I could not find the kebab place so I just went to the grocery store and bought
a coke, water, and wouldn't you know it, kebab flavor potato chips. Why don't we have meat flavored chips at home? I got to the National Museum around 12:45pm and started my tour with their homoerotocism exhibit. They also had plenty of religious art, which made a nice juxtaposition. From there I headed to the Ethnological Museum, which started out kind of weird and dull, but got really good and interesting as I made my way upstairs. I had the whole place to myself as well, so that was great. Next and last for the day was the Caricature Museum, which was full of things to do with Chopin. Funny really, and somewhere I would not have gone if it was not free. I next walked down the main touristy road towards the royal castle, checking out churches along the way. I managed to see six different wedding parties, coming in or leaving churches. I also heard part of a free Chopin concert outside at the university in the neighborhood. I walked through some of the old town, which was completely destroyed in WWII and had to be rebuilt from scratch. It looks nice, but I still find it strange
She was dragged to death by this bull, and then it appears he was sacrificed.
that so many "old" places I have seen were all rebuilt.
Eventually my feet hurt and I was hungry, so I headed to an Asian restaurant mentioned in my guide book. I ordered at the counter and had the food on my table in about five minutes. Amazing. And it was delicious. From there I made my way back to the hostel and showered and spent some time on the computer in the quiet common room. There was just one other guy in there, from Belgium, who was also busy with his computer. Blogs, skype and some facebook. Not a bad night. When I got back to my room before 11pm, my roommate was already in bed. I was as quiet as possible and then went to sleep. Or tried. It was baking in there, even though the outside temps had come down noticeably during the day. I had even zipped on the pants part of my pants on the tram home. But the window was closed and it was right over his bed. So I baked until 2am, when he got up and left the room. When he came back my plan was to ask him if we
Part of the homoerotic exhibit. Tame, but I like it.
could open the window. Before I even had the chance he had turned on the light. Rude. He wouldn't sleep so he was going to go sit out of the room but had to get dressed first. He couldn't do that in the dark? Anyway, he was fine with the window being open. Shame I had trouble sleeping after that, even though it was cooler.
July 25 - I got up a little before 8am thinking I had better get an early start to the day. I started with some breakfast and a conversation with my roommate, since we hadn't really net before. He's a doctor from Iraq, living in Sweden. With insomnia, apparently. I had a look at which museums were free and decided to try to make seven of them. SEVEN! Ridiculous. Four were close together, then the other three were a bit away from the first and each other. So the girl at the front desk spent some time finding a route with trams and buses that would help me get between them, which was so nice and amazing. While she did that I picked up the laundry I had them wash last night and brought
it upstairs. And then I set out on my epic museum journey.
The museum of pharmacy was supposed to be the first stop, but I arrived in the area at 10:05am and it didn't open until 10:30. Not like I had time to waste, so I went to the Archaeology Museum first. Really well done exhibits. I'm still blown away by what people were able to do already 10,000 years ago. Amazing. From there I saw nearby Museum of Independence. This one wasn't as easy for me to follow, but it did have some interesting things in it. Next stop, Museum of the Prison Pawiak. This was a former investigative prison during WWII, and tens of thousands of people were killed there. Horrifying really. Next stop was KFC for a quick chicken sandwich and from there to the Warsaw Rising museum, one of the most popular museums in the country, as evidenced by the fact that it was so full I could barely breathe. It's a shame but I had to leave after getting very little out of it because it was so full it felt like a carnival. I couldn't even read the exhibits without getting bowled over
by everyone reaching to grab little papers that describe what happened on certain days. I hated to see how many people took them knowing they will mostly end of up in the trash soon, not in a scrap book. The idea of the museum is good - it explains how the citizens of Warsaw stood up for themselves and fought against the Germans even as their city was completely destroyed. It's horrible to see what happened to this country, as well as the others I have been to this summer. Still so hard to believe it could have ever happened, or that it could go as far as it did. The next museum was of a similar idea - the Mausaleum of Battle and Martyrdom. It was the site of the German gestapo offices, where the police would round up political prisoners to be tortured and questioned and for many, killed here or at Pawiak. This was a particularly good exhibit I thought. Another sobering remembrance of those who fought to free Poland and for freedom. The last stop on the museum tour was the Museum Palace of Wilanow. It's a former residence for King Sobieski. At first it was
boring long hallways with portraits from the ages. But then it opened up into some of the residential rooms and it was more interesting. I didn't walk around the gardens as I was exhausted by then.
I decided to end with some dinner at the Asian place again, but was disappointed with my choice today. I didn't fully understand what I had ordered and ended up with fried balls of chicken instead of a stir fry. Disappointing, but what can you do? Back at the hostel I have showered and will now blow dry my hair for the second time on this trip. The hostel has free hair driers to borrow! Yay! I now need to decide if I will stay another night in Warsaw or if I should move on to Lublin. Decisions, decisions... And why am I itchy? It seems my back is a bit red and itchy.
There are more photos below