Warsaw – Still Chopin’s city

The Old Town center of Warsaw is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE site.

Click to see Photo Gallery: Warsaw

Day 1: Enter Warsaw: The first part of our East European tour ended and we began the self guided part of our trip. Most of the day was spent in transit and we arrived in Warsaw late afternoon. The airport information center is very helpful and we set out to our hotel, Jan III Sobieski, armed with a lot of good information. The taxi ride was about 40-50 zloty. After checking in and relaxing a bit we headed out to the old town area and spent the evening walking around Plac Zamkowy.

The entire old town of Warsaw is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a remarkable example of human resilience. 85% of this beautiful city was destroyed during WW-II, but has now been restored to its former glory.

We spotted an Indian restaurant and quickly jumped at the idea of some spicy Indian food after 10 days. The food was good, but the wait was a killer. Nearly 2 hours to get our meal. Stuffed and tired we retired for the night.

Day 2: City Tour: After a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast we headed to the old town area. We got tickets for the 24 hour hop on hop off bus and spent a couple of hours, doing the entire route. Again the old town area is walking friendly and is best seen on foot, but it is not as compact as other places. We got off at Zygmunt Column and walked towards the Old Town Market Square, passing through St. John’s Cathedral, Barbican and the old walls of the city. After a quick lunch we went up the bell tower of the St.Anne’s Church. As always, the best views are the aerial views.

The Royal Palace with Zygmunt Column, Warsaw
Royal Palace, Zygmut Column, Warsaw, Buy this photo

We decided to take a break from all the monuments and explore some parks. Warsaw is also very famous for its beautiful gardens. About 30% of the city is covered with green space. We took the hop on bus to Lazienki Royal Park. This beautiful, landscaped park includes the Palace on the Water, along with various other palaces, pavilions, an amphitheater and two orange orchards. A relaxed stroll through this park is so romantic and a treat to the senses. The Palace on the water was breath taking. The main attraction in the park is the Chopin Monument a wonderful statue surrounded by roses. The perfect place to relax and soak in Warsaw. We made our way back to the hotel using Warsaw’s excellent public transport and got ready for our music concert.

Lazienki Palace, Lazienki Park, Warsaw
Lazienki Palace, Buy this photo

2010 is the year of Fryderyk Chopin, and there are numberous tours offering concerts. We went to one performed by , at Raczynski Palace parlor. The two-part piano recital was performed by with a glass of sparkling wine during the interval. The performance was good but the ambience and scale was nowhere near the concert at Kursalon, in Vienna. We ended our day with a relaxed dinner in one of the fusion restaurants on Nowy Swiat.

Frederyk Chopin Monument, Royal Baths Park, Warsaw
Frederick Chopin Monument

Day 3: Walking Tours: Since this was our last day in Warsaw, and we had a lot of ground to cover we set out early to the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw’s most visible landmark. The panoramic views from the terrace on the 30th floor were never ending. After that we headed back to the old town area and walked along the Royal route, which extends from Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) to the end of Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Nowy Swiat. Some of the attractions along this route are: Warsaw University, Bristol Hotel, Potocki Palace, Holy Cross Church – Chopin’s heart is preserved in a column in this church, Adam Mickiewicz monument and Nicholas Copernicus monument. Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Nowy Swiat streets are also dotted with cafes, restaurants, and shops. After a quick lunch at Old Town Market Square we went to The Royal Castle. Nowadays, the Castle serves as the Museum and includes many famous paintings, tapestry and ornate interiors. The highlight was Leanardo da Vinci ‘s Lady with an Ermine, which was on loan from Muzeum Czartoryskich at Krakowie. The last monuments on our list was the Jewish Ghetto and Nozyk Synagogue. Again we took the excellent public transport and got to this part of Warsaw.

Old Town, Warsaw, Poland
Old Town, Buy this photo

The weather which had cooperated with us until now, turned stormy and we quickly made our way to Zote Tarasy, the mall. This modern structure, has a transparent roof that covers its signature central indoor courtyard designed for concerts. After spending a relaxing evening we headed back to our hotel, bidding Warsaw goodbye. This beautiful, historic city certainly exceeded our expectations and is a must see.

Tips:

1. Buy the day pass for local travel. It can be used on buses and trams and with the excellent public transportation system in Warsaw it is definitely worth it.

Journey dates: 4th July – 7th July

Travelers: Shwetha Shrivatsa, Karthik Raja, Jayanthi Bala, Parasuram Bala

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