BY TIM CAMPBELL
1. Why Go
Sat at a junction between east and west, Warsaw has history and form. Now part of the modern European union, it was once a Nazi slave, and then a Russian puppet, manipulated by the break up of the Second world war.
Today this vibrant city is home to just under 2 million people and thriving once again. Capital of modern Poland, new buildings are springing up and it is well on the way to retaining its former glory. Colourful and medieval old town Warsaw is a tourist’s delight to get a sense of old Poland.
Well worth a visit a visit at any time of year, Warsaw is especially welcome over the Christmas new year period where it decorates the city around the inevitable snowfalls. There are thousands of lights put out by the city round the centre making it a winter wonderland.
2. On Arrival
Warsaw Modelin airport
I arrived by train but the International airport, dominated by LOT Polish Airlines, is a hub for western Europe and the rest of the world. Once through customs and arrivals go left and outside to catch the bus into the city. Like most airports there are plenty of taxis but your best bet is to take the airport bus or a train.
Most of the modern population live in high rise apartment buildings that were built by the soviets in the 50’s and 60’s. Plentiful and cheap once the Russians left and the country joined the EU, many were turned into Airbnbs, second homes and granny flats.
The unique thing about these blocks was that there was usually an old fashioned bakery on the ground floor serving people pastries on the way to work. No coffee, just hand made excellent pastries. Sometimes they would have laundries or small grocery shops attached for residents to purchase those small things they ghad forgotten on the weekly shop.
As with most cities there are expensive, medium and low budget places. Depending on where you like to stay here are three suggestions:
Click the Flat 20Euros per night
Loft Hotel Sen Pszcoly 40Euros per night
NYX Hotel Warsaw Zentrum about 90 Euros per night.
4. Must Do / Don’t Miss
The Warsaw Ghetto
The Presidential Palace
The Royal Castle
Warsaw New Town
Frederich Chopin Museum
Palace of Culture and Sciences
Sol Y Sombra tapas bar
The Dark Kitchen - for sushi, piroshki and burgers.
5. My Suggestions
The area my accommodation was in was called Mirow, near to the old Warsaw Ghetto. The ghetto was in turn famous for Kristalnacht when, in 1939 during the 2nd World War, the Germans rounded up all the Jewish residents and forced them to stay within a very small ghetto area.
In the same area was a giant building called the Palace of Science and Culture. Unfortunately it was closed when I was there but locals tell me it is worth a half day going around all the exhibits inside.
Within a few short minutes walk you have Ogrod Saski park, full of statues and the tomb of the unknown soldier. Go through this park on the way to the Royal palace and Old town Warsaw. You can finish a very long day at Fort Legionow which has been part of the fortifications of the city for centuries.
There is so much to do in Warsaw, whether you’re just visiting for a day or two, or staying for a week. The Vistula river that the city sits upon has boat rides and there are several markets throughout the city to enjoy some excellent beer or local food.
One of my favourite markets in the city is Hala Gwardii near the Capitol Theatre. This market is unusual in that it is set up as dozens of small food stalls selling every type of International dish, coffee, or drinks with seating in the middle. It’s also a hangout for the locals to get together.
There are dozens of small areas within this giant of a city, all with its own characteristics. This is not the place to go for a long weekend unless you’re going to spend several of them here. It would be easier to spend a week. It soon became one of my favourite cities in this part of Europe, and one I look forward to returning to.