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Published: December 11th 2011
Time flies by and 2012 is already close, but Alexander has not yet completed the narration of past journeys. It’s all laziness. I’m madly in love with Wodehouse books, intending to buy them all, no matter what they cost. I found them in Nepal, in St. Petersburg, and now I’m ordering them from Amazon.
The story about Warszawa evokes dear emotions in me, though the journey started as far back as 26.03.2010. Now, some circumstances prevent my wanderings here and there; I’m generally between two cities, St. Petersburg and Birsk, and did not visit any new countries since the trip to Serbia. The idea is to save up as much money as I can for a certain purpose. But I’m thinking over plans to visit some Russian cities not far from St. Petersburg and also make some other plans. Living in hostels in St. Petersburg, I observe the sad fact that very few tourists care about their fellow traveler, who wants to sleep at night for example, but it would not be overstating to say that they don’t care a bit whether someone is sleeping or not. Travellers tend to like the night conversations,
but the loudness of voices makes me sick.
Warszawa is a place I would certainly like to come back to. It’s a city where I would not hesitate to live for a month or two. I intended to visit Krakow and Wroclaw during that trip, but missed my flight and thought it more reasonable to cancel the visits to two cities.
On 26/03, having got my passport with the visa on 25/03, I spent the sleepless night (due to the translation of some CAD manual) at the airport hotel. First, I planned to go by train to Brest and then by train to Warszawa. However, then I decided to forget about trains and go by plane from Minsk to Warszawa (it was just a little cheaper than flying from Moscow). The contingency which forced my change of plans was the fact that the visa was a bit delayed. But, so much the better, because the trip to Warszawa did not take much time.
The morning before the flight was not good. I had to finish a translation getting up some three hours before the flight (about 4 or 5 in the
Sorry, there will be very few titles.
morning). I slept at the airport hotel. My itinerary was a bit unusual, rather than having anything more or less direct, I flew Ufa-Moscow-Minsk-Warszawa. In Moscow, I spent some 5 hours, very sleepy. In Minsk, the official looked suspicious at my passport but made no objections to my travel. They also asked whether I had the 3,000 USD to declare. I didn’t have that much. In the plane, I was rather proud of myself because I read the magazine in Polish and understood quite much.
The official at the checkpoint first asked whether I spoke English. I did. I replied to the only question, did I have the return ticket and, bearing in mind some stories about people having troubles at the border, stepped with a light heart on the Polish land. I felt very happy when I arrived, got my luggage and took a bus. I enjoyed looking at the scenery through the window. It was not winter there, as in Russia at that time, but early spring. I took many photos from the window of no peculiar sites, just to have them. I listened to some young people speaking in the bus I don’t quite
remember in which language and about what. I found the hostel very easily because my booking printout had the directions. I smiled both externally and internally. It was my first long visit abroad.
The hostel name is Tamka and I would not hesitate to recommend it to the traveler. It is not expensive and is located in the centre, you don’t have to use public transport to get to the main sights. I unpacked my things and immediately started for a walk. I arrived at about 4 o’clock, so it was already evening. I simply beamed with joy walking along Krakowskie Przedmiescie and taking photos of virtually everything. Not that they were worth of an exhibition, of course. 1,500 photos in total during 2,5 days.
Not long ago, I have read that the centre of Warszawa was almost completely destroyed during World War II, and now it’s listed in the World Heritage List as an example of very thorough scientifically based restoration. I do have the urge to compare its centre with the Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (old town). So, the central historic part of Warszawa is also called Stare Miasto. Here’s a list of places I
saw that evening: Plac Zamkovy, Zamek Krolewski, Zygmunt Column, Rynek Starego Miasta, Nowe Miasto. When the traveler gets accustomed to the architectural styles and has visited about 100-200 cities, he or she may be inclined to consider even the largest European capitals a bore. But I never saw anything like Warszawa before, so I enjoyed it thoroughly. As I mentioned, I derive most of my pleasure from walking and observing the sights. Next year is going to be definitely richer in trips than 2011.
The words ‘walk’ and ‘walking’ are perhaps the most frequent in my vocabulary. I made a route the previous evening and went along Nowy Swiat, which most definitely reminded me of St. Petersburg (the same view when buildings are built wall-to-wall), to the Rondo gen. Ch. De Gaulle’a and then to Pl. Trzech Krzyzy, then along Al. Jerozolimskie to the Palac Kultury i nauki (a present from Russian dictator Stalin) – you can see the buildings of that style in Moscow (speaking of which, Moscow is undoubtedly great, but I would not rank it among my top five or even ten most aesthetically attractive places). I came to the
Warszawa Centralna station and decided to have a bite at Zlote Tarasy trade center. Now a remark has to be made concerning the style of that trade centre. Not so long ago I looked through a book on architectural styles and came across that very building. You’ll have to check the name yourselves, because I don’t remember it and don’t want to spoil my spirits by browsing in the damned slow internet. It has something to do with bubbles, if I’m right.
I had my camera right in my hand, so a security officer wasted no time in approaching me and kindly asking me to remove the camera in order not to have troubles with the law. He spoke Polish, I did not understand a single word, but the meaning did not escape me.
Next was Pl. Pilsudskiego and the Ogrod Saski, Pl. Teatralny and my everlasting desire to see as many churches as I could. I did not even use the map much because the tops of the churches were seen from afar. I also very distinctly remember visiting some internet cafes that day for a conversation with friends and buying batteries and
a bag for my camera. It’s a proud memory, because I tried to speak Polish with the seller, and, though blushing because of the poor quality of my speech, I obtained the result. Time passes and though I am still in favour of solitary travelling, I would be glad to be joined by some of my friends, or better the girlfriend. But they are not freelancers as self, have no time, etc.
Here’s another list of must-sees in Warszawa – Ogrod Krasinskich, Pegasy (though Pegasy might have been temporary statues, replaced now by some other works), again Plac Zamkowy, Rynek Starego Miasta.
I crossed the Most Slasko-Dabrowski (bridge) to have a look at two churches. They were not too close to the Centre but worth the effort. Returning back, I noted some sort of advertisement about visiting the View Tower at the Plac Zamkowy and in a moment was already at its top observing the city from above. The view is admirable. I did not have a single bite in a café, I used to buy food in the supermarket near the hostel.
One can without fail guess what I did
in the evening – of course, walk in the centre, falling the more in love with Warszawa.
On this day, I would fly to Paris at some 4 PM. There was plenty of time for reaching beyond the centre. I remember taking all my things with myself, so that to go straight to the airport after walking.
First, I went to have a look at Most Swietokrzyski and then proceeded in accordance with the map to parks mentioned below. Some girls asked me how to find a street, at first I did not provide an acceptable answer, but then, seeing the map in my hands, showed them where they should go. I went across Park im. Marsz. Edwarda Rydza-Smiglego to Park Lazienkowski which turned out to be an excellently peaceful place full of fresh air, green trees, and water bodies. I saw the Palac na Wyspie and a peacock – for the first time in my life, and I very distinctly remember saying to myself at that time that the journey was already a success – seeing even a peacock! It is not irony, it was real pleasure.
Leaving the park, one cannot but go to see the F. Shopin monument, as well as H. Sienkiewicz monument. From there, my intention was take the metro because it would take long to go on foot, and time was somewhat limited. I drove from Metro Politechnika to Metro Swietokrzyska; there is only one metro line in the city.
The day before, I heard some roommates mentioning the Mur Getta (ghetto wall), and was vainly trying to find it. I saw many tall modern buildings during that search.
After that, I had to hurry to the bus station in order not to miss the flight. Proceed now to read about, in the order mentioned, Paris, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Brussels.
On 06/04 I returned to Warszawa from Brussels, having successfully missed my flight. It was past midnight, so the airport offices were closed till morning. I slept there till 5 o’clock and, upon awakening, asked the ticket office whether it was possible to exchange the ticket; she said it was not possible to exchange the ticket. I would have to stay for two more days in Warszawa. I wanted to terminate the
journey due to the tiredness after Utrecht.
I mused on the option on visiting the train station to buy a ticket to Minsk and from there I would easily get back home. The ticket office was busy servicing a man for a long time, and as I often get nervous in queues, I abandoned the project and went to Tamka Hostel in search for a vacant room. I was sad and worried because my hostel/hotel searching in Amsterdam and Utrecht proved to be very trying. Tamka had a room available, we will let you in at 12 o’clock, I was so happy.
It was early morning. I revisited the Stare Miasto, sleepy, and by 12 returned to the hostel, and slept like a child, and did the translation, and next morning I found myself among the list of passengers bound for St. Petersburg. Why I went to St. Petersburg instead of my home town? It’s simple – I wanted to see a friend of mine and spend there a couple of days. One is sure to hear more about St. Petersburg in near future.
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