I like alliterations, okay guys? Thankfully, “wędrowaliśmy przez Warszawę” (ven-droov-al-ish-meh psh-rez var-sha-v-en), or “we wandered through Warsaw”, worked out. Also, I know this is a long-overdue blog post.
This is part 1 of our long weekend. With Corpus Christi falling on a Thursday, we took Friday off and took advantage of cheap airfare to Warsaw. After a quick flight and a quick bus ride to the middle of the city, we found ourselves staring up at the bold Palace of Culture and Science.
Palace is a bit of misnomer. The building is home to several businesses, a cinema, and a bar/restaurant. Controversial since its completion in 1955, the Palace has represented the destruction of the aesthetics of the Stare Miasto (Old Town) and Soviet dominance. Today, the Palace is a key landmark for Warsaw and now blends in with some of the newer and more modern buildings.
Given that we arrived in the city on a Catholic holiday, we were prepared for almost nothing to be open. Once we found an open cafe and got some food in our stomachs, we made our way to Ogród Saski (the Saxon Gardens), the oldest public park in the city. The center gardens were full of colorful pansies in lovely designs and the rest of the park was full of ducks.
Following the Saxon Gardens, we got to wandering through the Old Town. Warsaw’s Old Town history is similar to that of Gdańsk – the majority of both cities were blown to bits during WWII then meticulously reconstructed. Admittedly, we didn’t do too much research for our trip to Warsaw, but I was happy to walk around to see the architecture and street art.
Continuing on the theme of having to do things outside because it was a Catholic holiday, we hopped on the tram to Łazienki Królewskie, a beautiful and extensive park behind the President’s residence. There were beautiful buildings scattered throughout the park, including “The Palace on the Isle” and a few other gems.
I could have explored the park for so much longer, but Zach’s allergies had started to flare up and he was miserable. Completely understandable since the trees here produce huge volumes of white, fluffy pollen. We decided to tuck up in a wine bar for a reprieve from the pollen before hopping back on the tram to our hotel.
The following day, we went to the History Museum of the Polish Jews, which encompassed 1000 years of Jewish history in Poland. As you might imagine, it was an overwhelming amount of information, so we had to pick and choose which exhibits to read through. I think the most interesting section of the museum was the history of how the Jews came to Poland and the various restrictions that were placed on them at that time. Some townships were stricter than others when it came to the rights of the Jewish population, while others gave them significantly more freedoms. It was very interesting for me simply because I had never known how the Jews had come to Eastern Europe and Poland in the first place.
We ended up spending the majority of our morning in this museum, but luckily it was the only museum we had planned on visiting in Warsaw. We did have to rush out at the end so we would have enough time to grab our bags from the hotel and catch our train to Krakow. I do wish we could have spent a bit more time in Warsaw, but it’s still there for us to go explore at a later date.