Hi! Welcome to Complete City Guides!
My name is Patrick, I'm originally from Sydney (Australia) but grew up in England (my second home) - and I love exploring cities (and writing about it!)
I work online in marketing, which gives me the opportunity to travel around the world full time.
So while I am away, I keep this blog updated with full travel info. I tend to stay in a city for a few months at a time, to really get to know it - then I write guides on it.
Last weekend we flew to Warsaw and spent a short weekend there. We went there for a concert in the evening, but during the day we had time to explore the city.
One of the most well-known landmarks for Warsaw is the Palace of Culture and Science. It was built by the Soviets in 1955, and is one of the "Seven Sisters" (the Soviets loved to build the same style of building in many other cities).
We were in Warsaw on the 10th April, which is the date of the 2010 airplane crash that killed the Polish President (and 95 other people). The President and the other victims were on the way to an event to mark the 70 years since the Katyn massacre.
Because we were there during this weekend, there were several memorials (for both Katyn and the plane crash). On the Sunday 10th we saw quite a lot of people carrying flags, but we didn't spend much of the day in the city center.
The next morning we went and explored some more of Warsaw. During WWII the city was completely flattened, but there are some buildings that date back to WWII and still show the scars of war.
The next photo shows the Bank of Poland. It was built in 1907-1911 as the Russian Imperial Bank, on the site of two 18th and 19th century palaces used by the State Mint. During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising it was used as a Polish stronghold, and was bombed by German planes. Today you can see a huge amount of bullet holes.
Warsaw doesn't have such of a nice Old Town area like Kraków or other Polish cities. It was rebuilt in the last 70 years (after it was flattened in WWII), but still feels quite old. They used old paintings and photos of the area to rebuild it as accurately as possible.
On the way we found this monument - for Jan Kiliński, who was the commander of the 1794 Warsaw Uprising. (Every other mention of it in this blog post will be about the WWII Warsaw Uprising!)
Entering the Warsaw Old Town Market Place:
I think the buildings around the Old Town Market look similar to many other Polish cities. But unlike most other Polish cities it isn't really at the center of the city, and we didn't really spend much time in this area.
Walking around the corner we came across some kind of a padlock love bridge. Except, it wasn't a bridge...
Next we came across the Castle Square area. This is a big open space next to the Royal Castle:
An unexpected sight is seeing Kubusia Puchatka street. It is the Polish translation for the Winnie the Pooh name - but apart from the small sign (in the photo below) there is nothing else to do with Winnie the Pooh on the street.
When they needed a name for the new street in 1954, they couldn't decide on a name. So it was decided that the name for the street would be decided by having a competition for children in the newspaper "Express Wieczorny" (Evening Express). The winning name selection was Winnie the Pooh!
Warsaw is the only city in Poland with an underground/metro system. There are three lines, and generally the city has great public transport.
We found a British shop, so thought we would go and check it out. We have seen 'Polski Skelp' (Polish Shop) in other cities, but never seen a foreign shop (that specalises in products from just one country) in Poland before.
As expected (although not in our photos, there were lots of teas and cereals on offer!)
One of the most well-known museums in Warsaw is the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It shows the history of the WWII Warsaw Uprising. The most eye opening part was a 3d (in both senses - it was computer graphics, and we had 3d glasses) flyover of the city. You could see the river, and a few bridges but literally everything was rubble.
Who needs traditional billboards when you can get some nice pictures of a pig painted on a wall to advertise your restaurant...?
But despite its best efforts to entice us in, we went to an Indian restaurant instead:
By this time, we fancied a beer (or two...). Despite being a large city, there are not too many drinking areas in Warsaw.
We started off in a Pijalnia bar on Nowy Swiat street. We had been many times to the Pijalnia bars in Kraków, and this one felt almost exactly the same. Cheap beer and shots (4zł) and super busy.
But after a couple of drinks here we wanted to see more of Warsaw. One of the best drinking areas is Pawilony. It is almost opposite the Pijalnia on Nowy Swiat.
There are lots of small bars here, and at the weekends it gets super busy. But if you want to go somewhere with good atmosphere, and (assuming you can find a free table) an area where bar hopping is easy, you will want to check it out.
The next day we got some breakfast, and headed to the huge Soviet building called the Palace of Culture and Science.
At 2pm we had tickets for the Titanic Exhibition inside the Palace of Culture and Science. So before doing that, we went to the 30th floor for some views of the whole city.
It cost us 20zł each to go to the viewing terrace of the Palace of Culture and Science. Once we bought tickets we popped in an elevator and were quickly on the 30th floor.
Near the elevator you can buy some postcards. That must be the reason for them having a post box 30 floors high. I would assume this is the highest post box in Warsaw...! I feel sorry for the mailman who has to get those letters...
For 45zł you can spend 90 minutes hearing (via an audio guide) about the Titanic, the people who made it and the people who were on its doomed voyage. It was on the 4th floor of the building, and we had to queue for a long time...
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