The road to Warsaw is indeed mostly road (I had expected motorway but there are only chunks of motorway appearing randomly along the way). Hence the 184 mile journey takes over 5 hours. It’s not very scenic and I’ve finished my book, so it’s a long 5 hours. We stop briefly in a Lidl to buy brunch and get attacked by old ladies brandishing shopping trolleys like lethal weapons.
By the time we reach Warsaw, it’s mid afternoon and raining and the city is masked by a cloud of smog. It takes another hour to fight our way into town (I can understand now why we had to pay an excess to bring the car here – the drivers are batshit crazy) and find our way to the hotel car park, which is in a courtyard surrounded by building works. Finally, we penetrate the maze of fences and bollards (this involves driving down a pedestrian street and through an archway a few centimetres wider than the car) and can check in. It’s a nice hotel, apart from the fact it has no hot water until tomorrow.
I had low expectations of what Warsaw had to offer (my dad told
me I’d hate it here) but we have a pleasant afternoon. We start at the Palace of Culture and Science; am enormous building, the tallest in Poland, gifted by the Soviet Union in the 1950s in Stalin’s crazy gothic/socialist realist style. It’s Poland’s tallest building and you can take a lift to the 30th floor to admire the view.
It takes forever to reach the front of the lift queue due to the huge number of people and our inability to hold our ground in a crowd (we try to form a queue when everyone else is crowding). Eventually, we reach the top and can admire the views across the city. The wait to descend takes even longer.
Once down, the old man decides to visit an exhibition of metal sculptures. I opt instead to take a walk around the building. The fact is, it’s so tall, I’ve completely misjudged how big it as ground level (it houses theatres, a cinema, restaurants, museums and a unit. 20 minutes later, I have completed my circumnavigation to find the old man sitting on the steps waiting and huffing.
Next stop the old town, via the pretty Saxon Park with
its lake, gardens and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The old town is very picturesque. After taking plenty of photos, we return to find something to eat. En route we come across a far right demonstration. You’d think with Auschwitz on their doorstep, they’d have learned a lesson, but apparently not. There’s also an LGBT counter demo. And a lot of police.
We stop for dinner; duck pierogi and Polish beer. Then back to the hotel to bed. Tomorrow, hopefully after a hot shower, is the highlight of my trip as we are going to Gdańsk.
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