Even though I was in Warsaw yesterday, I don’t feel like I did much in the way of sightseeing or getting a flavor of Warsaw. I think that was why I felt a little discouraged at bedtime (that, and as someone pointed out to me right before I went to sleep, it’s change… change always takes some getting used to!).
So today I got up after a restful 10 hours of sleep. Man, I slept like a rock. I could’ve kept sleeping, too. I got ready and went out in search of the Hop On-Hop Off bus stop. I think this was a wise choice to buy a ticket. I rode the entire tour, an hour’s worth. I got see all the main sites and how they related to one another and hear all the history and great stories behind this city. I then rode a little further so that I could get off at the Royal Castle/Old Town stop. This area is just gorgeous! I could’ve spent all day there, especially in the Old Town Square. Enchanting!
Instead, I ate lunch at one of the café/restaurants that line the square. I knew I needed to dive head first into Polish food, but I didn’t want to! There are so many Italian restaurants here, I was tempted! But no, I picked one that had traditional Polish dumplings, aka pierogi, and went for it. Now, I was starving because I didn’t leave time for breakfast this morning, so I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to eat them and still be hungry. But I did it anyway! I ordered up the meat-style. No idea what kind of meat. Just meat. And… they were good! My first bite was hesitant, and I didn’t eat the stuff that came on top, which I later realized was fried or caramelized onions. I tried some of those on a bite and it was even better. They didn’t taste oniony, it just added a sweet taste to it. I was served 8, but only ate 5. And that was quite enough. Probably too much because I didn’t like #5 as much as I liked #1!
I then toured the Royal Castle, which was free on Sundays…SCORE! I didn’t get the audio guide because no one was there to sell them, but I think I could appreciate it without. I have some great photos! I just love magnificent buildings like that. Sort of like touring Napoleon’s apartments at the Louvre. The opulence is always so stunning.
After the Castle tour I walked around Old Town and got an ice cream cone, which, by my assessment was required. Seriously, everyone had one! I walked the length of Old Town before searching for St. John’s Cathedral, which is considered Warsaw’s oldest church. I hadn’t realized I had walked past it two or three times!
I then decided that I would make my way to the Warsaw Rising Monument, which I had seen on the bus. I had wanted to take the bus there and then to a couple other spots before heading back into my neck of the woods, but I thought I had missed the bus. But I hadn’t! But then I learned that it was 1:30, so it would continue its route (1/2 the tour) and stop for an hour. Well, that didn’t work, so off I went on foot. I knew the general vicinity I needed to be in, so I set off. I turned on a street that I didn’t know if it was the right one, but I knew I could go a street or two over to find it. Nope, there it popped up on my right.
I had wanted to see this before, but when on the bus tour, I learned that it sits outside the Polish Supreme Court building. Hello?!?! So I spent some time at the monument and them walking around the building and looking at the pillars, which are inscribed with Latin legal principles and their Polish counterparts. (There will be photos of all of this stuff on FB and I will post a selection on here in the coming days… haven’t uploaded, edited, and sorted them yet.)
Then I made my way to the Holy Cross Church, in which Frederic Chopin’s heart is interred in a pillar. Yes, you read that right. They love that guy here. Across the street is a famous (supposedly one of the most famous) statues of Copernicus. It was pretty cool. Then on the ground inlaid in the ground was the solar system. Pretty neat.
I realized on the walk to the church that the road I needed to go home was only a block away. So I headed back that way and went to Victory Square, where JPII preached his first Mass back in Poland as pope. This is also the location of the Unknown Soldier and beyond it a beautiful park and fountain (called, Saxon Garden).
I continued on my way back toward my hotel and went to the Warsaw Rising Museum. It, too, was free on Sundays. This one, though, I planned. It was a great museum, but unfortunately, I was tired. There was so much reading in this museum, I could’ve spent all day there. Still, I spent a little over an hour. I watched one of the films and nearly fell asleep. I think I’m still fighting jet lag. But all in all, it was a great museum and I learned a lot. It’s just too bad I wasn’t in better shape and had more time.
I decided I needed to rest my feet and decide what to do for dinner. I googled the restaurant I had wanted to go to last night, but was too intimidated: Folk Gospoda. Turns out it’s one of Warsaw’s oldest restaurants, has staff that speak English, and an English menu. Thank goodness! After a little rest, I walked down there and had a great meal. Again, I resisted the urge to have a burger or a Caesar salad and went with the traditional Polish pork chop. It came with cucumber salad and the waitress asked if I wanted a side… like French fries? Yes, please! Holy large portions, Batman! I ate half of the pork chop (so good!), half of the fries (though there were so many it hardly looked like I put a dent in them), and half of the salad, which consisted of cucumbers with some sort of cream sauce on them. It was good, but too much sauce.
The cost for the day, excluding my hotel? $28. Seriously, Poland is cheap.
Now to shower, lay out clothes, and pack what I can. I have a taxi picking me up at 7:15am so that I can make the 8:15 train to Krakow. I am so tired, but at least I will have 3 hours to sleep on the train. Or organize photos! Something.