From Budapest to Warsaw took us 10 hours on the train and cost us £17. It’s so much quicker, cheaper and easier to travel about by train in Europe.
On arriving in Warsaw we were greeted with the Joseph Stalin’s Palace of Culture and Science. It stands 237m high and is the tallest building in Poland. It is the centre for Cinema, Theatre, sports events etc. It was built in 1955 and stands at the side of a modern building mixing the old and new on the Warsaw skyline
We got a taxi from the station to our apartment as it was about 20 minutes out of town. The taxi driver spoke a little English but our Polish is minimal. He asked where we were visiting in Poland. We proceeded to explain.. Warsaw, Krakow (I knew it was pronounced Krakov) then Wroclaw (we pronounced it rock law). He looks at us like we were talking Urdu 😕. We tried again only a little louder thinking he couldn’t hear us. Obviously if someone doesn’t understand you say it louder and slower …”Vrock lov” me thinking “w” is pronounced as an “v”….nope he still didn’t understand so we skipped it and said Poznan and Gdansk…phew. He understood. We later found out its pronounced Vrots Wahf, so no matter how loud or slow we said it he’d never have undertood us! 😂
The apartment wasn’t brilliant. we were sleeping on a sofa bed that only had a single duvet, 1 pillow, I sheet and 1 blanket… to share between the two of us. The windows didn’t have curtains up so the people in the apartments opposite could see straight in.. Kev asks the guy who we’re renting the place off “So we can’t walk about naked then?” 😲 The poor guy was so embarrassed. I had to explain he was only joking….I hope.
We only had one full day in Warsaw so we were up and out early and decided to walk into town. Should take us an hour. Quite near to our apartment was a large park so we strolled through it and came across loads of red squirrels and unusual ducks
It turns out we were in the grounds of the Lazienki Palace. A beautiful baroque style building surrounded by water, which was still frozen over. Two magnificent peacocks were guarding the entrance
As we had walked on the ice in Latvia, Kev decided to try it here….I did explain his foot would go straight through it as it wasn’t as thick and the temperature wasn’t as cold. 2 minutes later…one wet shoe and a hole in the ice 😰
We carried on our walk into the centre. We needed to get to the train station to book our tickets for Krakow the following day. To cut a really long story short we ended up walking around near the station for over an hour trying to actually find the building! We were up and down the steps of the metro, underground so many times my knees were killing me.
Once we’d got the tickets we headed for the old town. I spotted a top in the window of C & A (yep they still have them in Europe). I went in to try it on as it would be perfect for the night do of my daughter’s wedding. I was pleased with it so bought it. I told Kev I’d got it for £10 and that it covered my arms and my belly so was pleased. “Oh you got a right bargain there then as there must be and lot of material involved to cover that much!!” 😮
Our walk brought us to the old town….gorgeous. A lot of the old town had to be rebuilt from the war but it still retains its authenticity. The buildings again are different and photo worthy.
There were stalls selling different polish food and one that had the biggest loaf of bread I’ve ever seen! They eat a lot of open topped sandwiches so the bread is made to around 40 cm in length specifically for these.
We took the bus back to our apartment after another long day of walking. We had no idea where to buy tickets from, and you couldn’t get them on the bus so we jumped on and hoped an inspector wouldn’t get on. We didn’t want to push it too much so got off a stop earlier and walked the rest of the way. By the end of the day we’d walked 38,426 steps!
The following day we took another train to Krakow (pronounced Krakov). We’ve been here a few years ago but we enjoyed it and broke up a journey to Wroclaw so thought we’d call in again. If you’ve never been before then it’s definitely a visit. It is steeped in history with the Germans invading it and a trip to Auschwitz is a must. It is fascinating, harrowing and unbelievable. The displays of the clothes, shoes and belongings….the piles of hair. It is hard to comprehend what went on, and for so long.
The main square of the town is very much like any other. A vast space (200m x 200m) surrounded with restaurants, shops, bars and offering horse and cart rides. It’s still a spectacular sight though. We are both craving to see mountains, trees or beach. Five weeks is too long to do city breaks.My knees can’t take it! 😣
The square didn’t hold much attraction to us this time though so we headed off down the back streets, where the prices are much cheaper! 😁 We stopped off at a coffee shop and treat ourselves to some goodies.
The cakes were humongous and they had the cheek to charge us £4 for 2 and a cappuccino 😍. We needed to do some major walking to get these off lol. Thing is, we wouldn’t have had them if they’d been extortionate prices…we just like a bargain 😀
Walking towards Wawel Castle, Kev decides to sing. He does this quite regularly. The songs are never in tune and he usually gets the words wrong 😂 So what song comes to mind when walking along the cobbled road looking up at the walls of the castle…? “Thumbelina, Thumbelina tiny little thing, Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing ♫” I won’t be entering him into Britain’s Got Talent just yet! Below is Wawel (Vavel) Castle
From the grounds of the castle you can see the river Vistula. It’s the longest in Poland. People were sat on the walls surrounding it, there are boats that have been transformed into bars. A nice place to walk around, sit and chill.
It was starting to drop dark so we headed back to the square to see it lit up on a night.
We headed back “home” to chill and watch some tv. Our apartment was huge with 3 bedrooms. The room that had been made up for us had a double bed and a single bed in. I got into bed on my side and when Kev walked in he stopped in his tracks. “If you think I’m sleeping all squashed up to the wall you can think again” he says. This is what I’ve been doing for the past few nights as the wall was on my side. No he wasn’t having it….he grabbed his duvet (they have 2 single ones on a double bed) and his pillow and slept in the single bed! 😂
Most cities offer a “free” walking tour. It’s basically a local who has good knowledge of the area and history, who walks you around for a few hours and at the end of the tour you pay what you feel it was worth. We decided to do 2…in one day. The first 2.5 hour walk was around the old city in Krakow. We were taken around streets we’ve never been before and told of local legends. Well worth doing if you want to learn about local culture/history. Below is our guide explaining about a building to our group.
The oldest street in Krakow
After the first walking tour we had an hour before the tour started around the Jewish Quarter. We popped into a cafe for a coffee and I ate my sandwiches which I’d prepared from what I couldn’t each from my polish breakfast! Kev was suffering with a dodgy stomach from the soup our first Polish host made us! 😂
We were taken to synagogue and before entering the men were told they had to wear a hat or something to cover their head. Kev put his hood up. The women were told that had to try not looking too sexy for the next 15 mins, whilst inside. Kev patted me on the shoulder and said “You don’t need to worry, you’ve passed” 😫 then gave me a kiss.
The first half of the tour was relatively boring until we got to the part about the 2nd world war. We visited the ghetto where 3000 Jews were shipped out, that weren’t able to work and in their place was 18,000 shipped in. You can imagine how cramped and over crowded the living conditions were. Those that were able to work were saved. The rest were sent to an extermination camp (Belzec) to die. Children were taken down a side street and lined up and shot. The ones that were able to work were brought in to clean up, often clearing the bodies of their own children. 🙁
Now where the ghetto once was has been made into a site of rememberance. It has large chairs spaced out in the centre. Each chair represents 1 thousand people who lost their lives.
We took a walk down the street where the film Schindlers List was filmed. It still looks the same as in the film and people are living here.
We were told to try the local “fast food” Zapiekanka. We like sampling local food so gave it a go…….we didnt eat anything else after this! They are huge. It was half a crusty baguette topped with smoked sausage, chicken and melted cheese and drizzled with garlic sauce. Well worth £2
We slowly meandered back to the old town whilst marvelling at the night sky. These haven’t been edited.
I showed Kev them when I’d taken them..he started humming the Fat David Bailey song (to the tune of Guantanamera). He just gets jealous of my photos that’s all 😉
We needed to get train tickets for the following day so called in at the station, which was under a shopping centre. I told him my legs were aching. He said “When we get inside I’ll find you somewhere to rest your fat arse, it won’t be a seat though as you’ll never fit in it. I’ll find you a three piece suite!” 😂
28, 000 steps walked today. I’m looking forward to the 2.5 hour train journey to Wroclaw tomorrow. At least I get to rest a bit!