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Published: October 31st 2014
Our fast modern train zipped us from Berlin, Germany, into next door Poland. In Warsaw we were treating ourselves - to the 5* Westin hotel. And very swanky it was too. The bathroom alone was bigger than our rooms in our next too destinations.
Actually, we weren't actually pushing the budget with this one. Our lovely posh hotel room cost less than a room in a hostel. I think it was something to do with it being a Saturday in August in the business district. Less demand for rooms. When planning this trip, I booked all the accommodation and transport in advance, since we only had 12 days to get back to Odessa. I use Booking.com usually, mainly because having booked so many hotel rooms for our weekends in Shanghai, I'm now a booking.com 'Genius' (their term, not mine. Calling myself a genius of a website would make me sound like a proper dick) and I get a discount on certain hotels. Anyway, when you search for available accommodation for specific dates on booking.com, you can filter the results. I usually filter so I can only see the cheapest places (I up this if they are all rank). It then
shows you how many of those left are 2*, 3*, 4* and 5*. It's worth doing cos sometimes the 5* places are on special offer. Indeed, the search for Warsaw brought up several 4 and 5* hotels under £40 a night. The Westin had the best reviews, so we booked a room for just £32 a night. Ok, if we had wanted breakfast it was £17 each, and wifi was the same price for the day, but we just put sandwiches in the fridge and used the wifi in bars and restaurants. Awesome.
We only had one full day in Warsaw, but we had heard that the Warsaw Rising museum was a must-do so we set out there the next day. After quite a long wait in the queue (go early) we walked around the incredibly powerful, if a bit temporally confusing museum of the German occupation. In 1944, the people of Warsaw tried to liberate themselves from the Nazi occupation. For 63 days, they fought to take back their city. The museum tells of how people from all sectors of society played roles, it wasn't just soldiers, but scout and guide companies, children. Due to various communication problems
and non-intervention from allies, the uprising failed. The Nazis cleared the whole city and moved the residents to concentration camps. They then blew it up. The Old Town, the Castle, everything was destroyed. Then when Poland was taken over by the Soviets, the people were moved back, but the organisers of the Uprising were killed.
It's a tragic story, but incredible when you walk around the Old Town. It was all rebuilt. There are beautiful coloured buildings, a square with bars and restaurants and even a castle. If you look closely, you can see it's new, but I don't think that matters. When you look at it and think about what happened there, it's an amazing example of human resilience. The castle is quite modern inside, but they have recovered art and furniture that was originally there.
Our two evenings in Warsaw were spent pottering around the Old Town and enjoying some Polish food and beer. We only went there because there is no longer a train directly between Berlin and Krakow, but we were glad we did.
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