Sunday, June 11, 2017

Winging it in Warsaw

A last minute flight booking saw me scrabbling around trying to get organise on Monday and setting my alarm for 04:45...
After getting underway I was promptly soaked as soon as I stepped out the front door by some early morning storms. I'd decided to book a bus ticket into town, as this being RyanAir dumps you in the middle of nowhere, Poland. Somewhat optimistically I opted for the 12:00 bus after a 11:35 arrival. Still we actually landed 20 minutes early and got through passport control smoothly enough. In fact I even caught the bus before, as there was a seat or two still empty they let me on.

I had rented an apartment in Warsaw for 3 days. But first I has to pick up the keys. After arriving it wasn't too far away, just has to find the right spot. GPS to the rescue, not sure how I found anything before travelling with a phone. Got the keys and jumped in a taxi, turns out the driver is a huge Newcastle fan and has visited there to see them play a few times.
Got into the apartment, inside a gated community of 4 tower blocks. I was on the ground floor,
the pipes from floor to ceiling in the middle of the room were an unexpected addition.

I headed out for a look around, the nearest sight being the Chopin Museum. Spotting a sign for lunch I jumped into the attached restaurant and very swish Tamka 43 as they were offering a 3 course lunch for around £7. Seem to be classified as modern Polish cuisine, nice soup with egg for starter, turkey main and big dunch of brownie. Then onto the Chopin museum. All very nicely presented, the museum showcases the life and times of Poland most famous pianist & composer Frederic Chopin. It has a a listening room where you can put on headphones and hear some of the various pieces, split up by genre. Etudes, ballades, nocturnes etc.

After my big late lunch I opted for a light dinner, Belgian fries caught my eyes and then a zapiekanka. That is an open toasted sandwich a bit like a pizza with various topping and sauces.

The next day I tried to go the the Copernicus museum but it was 'full' as it had a sign up saying no more visit as it had reached it's daily limit. Hmmm, okay, anyway onto the old town and the market square. The old town isn't really so old as has been rebuilt after world war II. A highlight was the spectacular Royal Palace. The rebuilding completed in 1984, was funded by a worldwide donation drive. Inside rooms are gilded, marbled or intricately decorated, adorned with paintings. An impressive sight!

Later that night I returned to the old town to take in a Chopin piano recital. In a small room the pianist started with Ballade no 1 in G minor, ending with Polonaise in E flat minor, opus 26.

Next day it was to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, with an audio guide I went round there, along with giant tour groups of hyperactive schoolchildren. Still at least I had headphones in. Inside was a B24 bomber, many rooms about the uprising and some original film footage. Up on the roof there was a viewing platform, limited to 10 people, so maybe that was why nobody else was there.

Later it was time for a spot of lunch, so I popped into a local lunch spot, seemed to be a mix of cuisine, not just Polish. I opted for the duck and a big coke, but actually I got a big duck and a coke. Which would explain why it cost more than I thought. A bit of a duck up.

Then I had a look at the tallest building in the country, the Palace of Culture and Science, which was a Russian gift to the people of Poland. There is a viewing platform if you wish to go up it, but I just headed inside and found a small museum with an exhibition about evolution, mostly dinosaurs.

Back having a look around the old town I found 'Horror House' and decided to venture inside.
Knock & wait, get told to wait outside for 15 minutes. A couple of guys come out looking a mixture of terrifed and relieved. Soon I go in then a nice woman gets you to sign one of those unsueable forms, abdicating them of your heart attack. "Do you wanna play a game?"
You enter a dark room, no not dark, pitch black, can't see anything. There are rubber strands draped down for doorways you go through them. Eventually ended up crawling in the complete darkness on all fours as the space gets tighter. Then you get a torch! But it's crap.

Next you have to solve some puzzles and unlock the doors, i.e. find the combination or the key for the lock. Meanwhile an occasional ghost will scream in your face, or grab you. After a few more rooms and scares, I got chased out by a chap with a chainsaw. Now I was like those earlier guys terrifed and relieved.

For dinner some traditional Polish food, dumplings with cheese, potatoes & onions (pierogi ruskie) with a cup of beetroot soup and some steamed veg. Ending up being loads of food and had to give up near the end.

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