From Krakow it was off to the ‘new’ capital of Poland – Warsaw. As I said in the previous post I wasn’t feeling too great so it was at least a good thing that it was a direct train. Only took about three hours from memory, a distance however that a German ICE train would cover in half the time. I arrived at the train station and all I had for directions was the hostel flyer that I quickly grabbed at the hostel in Krakow before I left. The only thing on this tiny little map that gives you any sense of direction is the monstrous tower near the train station. So I figured that out and it was about a 15min walk that took me about 30mins. Checked in to the hostel and went to my six bed room. There were three American dudes in their just hanging out. Got to talking and I said id just come from Krakow and it was awesome etc etc. Long story short they checked out about an hour later, cutting short their stay in Warsaw, and were on a train to Krakow arriving at 3am. I really hope they liked Krakow otherwise they’re going to think im a massive dick.

I had a bit of a sleep in the next morning, got moving about 11am. With only half a day to do things I decided to do the Warsaw Rising Museum. This is touted as one of the best WW2 museums there are, with most of it dealing with Poland and of course the Warsaw Uprising. The Warsaw Uprising was a huge operation in 1944 by the Polish Home Army to liberate themselves from the Nazis. They eventually won, however their were massive civilian casualties, and the entire city was basically flattened. As part of the museum theres a small cinema in which they recreate a plane flying over Warsaw in 1944 showing all the devastation. It was extremely well done, and it was even in 3D. Apart from that it was just great because like the other WW2 museums ive been to it was really new, there was a tonne of information, a hell of a lot of original items, and the layout was well done. I spent quite a few hours there and also bought the guidebook. Because the three Americans had left for Krakow I had the hostel room to myself that night too so I got a good sleep.

Next morning I woke up at a more normal hour and headed out to check out the city. It was a stunning day of sun and blue skies. I was told that Warsaw is an ugly city and full of construction (being that it was completely demolished in WW2 and well I guess it takes a while to build a city). However walking towards the old town I didn’t see where people were getting this information from. The old town is stunning. Every building is built in to the one next to it so theres no gap, and they paint each building a different vibrant colour. There is pedestrian streets that meander their way all around the place, creating a giant maze. After a while you will pop out in to a massive open square, surrounded by buildings. I spent the entire day wandering the streets, taking some very cliche photos of the colourful buildings. On one of the street corners was a rather attractive Polish girl playing the violin. The violin is one classical instrument that ill always stop and listen too. I don’t know why, maybe its because for some reason its thought of being super hard to play so you appreciate it more or something. Every so often she would play the Viennese Waltz which sounds great and also puts True Lies in your head. She was also standing in some really nice light so I fired off quite a few shots. In the afternoon I decided to take the slight trek down to the Botanic Garden area. The gardens were stunning, the trees full of yellow and orange leaves. In one area there is a massive monument statue to Chopin (who I had no idea came from Warsaw). Walk down to the bottom of the gardens and there is a nice lake with a palace and a couple of small open stone amphitheatres. There was also a lot of peacocks running around which was quite strange. On the way back I walked past an ‘American Bookshop’ (seriously thats the name of the shop) and the cover of a book out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. It was ‘Wall and Piece’ by Banksy, the renowned street artist. I’ve been wanting to buy this book for a long time now so finding it in Warsaw was kind of strange, but awesome.

On my last day I wanted to try and get out to a Polish forest, see what was left of Autumn. I had read about the xxxx National Park a while ago, people saying its a good place to go and its one of the largest National Parks in Poland etc. So I caught the metro to the last station on the line. Just a bit of a tangent, but the metro is awesome here. Sure its only one line so how can you really go wrong, but its super quick, cheap and the trains come every few minutes. And outside of that theres a phenomenal bus network and trams too. So yeah anyway, got off at the last stop and made my way to the bus that was going to take me to the National Park. The problem is is that the map/list of stops is super freaking confusing. The bus does like a loop or something at some stage of the journey. So anyway I get off at what I assume to be the right stop, its next to a forest so what the hell cant be too wrong. Got off and started walking around, wasn’t really what I had expected, even though I didn’t really know what to expect. The main annoying part was that the trees weren’t that colourful, so my Polish forest in autumn photo just wasn’t happening. Not to worry, a day out in fresh air is still good. The park is actually really awesome if you have a bike. There is trails everywhere and the entire place is deadpan flat. So after a few hours id had enough, walked back to the road and found a bus stop, had the right number on it so guess thats ok to catch. It was.

The day was also All Saints Day, which is celebrated quite massively in Poland (along with the usual ‘typical’ catholic countries like Italy and Spain). Everyone goes out and buys candles and flowers etc and visits their local cemetery and puts them down on their loved ones graves or other prominent people in Polish history. The cemetery in Warsaw was a good one to visit because a) its massive b) a lot of famous people are buried there. I was envisioning a few candles here and there and couple hundred people or something. I was so wrong. There were so many people going in to the cemetery that they had closed the roads surrounding it. When I was walking there I had to cross the road and the little man was red but the road was barricaded off and closed so I just walked anyway. Makes sense right? As soon as I put a foot out a Polish cop was shouting at me asking me what the hell I was doing (I assume so anyway). He was pointing at the red person and saying random shit in Polish. Im just like yep cool dude I don’t speak Polish im sorry my bad now shutup. Seriously what a spanner. Eventually got in to the cemetery and it was pretty amazing, thousands of candles everywhere. It was completely dark by this stage so you could just see dots of lights all around you in the distance. Around the more well known graves were a tonne of candles, hundreds of them. One of them, and the only one I really knew anything about, was a husband and wife who died in the Polish air crash that took out nearly their entire government earlier in the year. I didn’t have my tripod with me so I did the best I could, combination of resting the camera on something or using ISO3200. God bless full frame camera sensors.

Soooo you probably don’t need three full days in Warsaw, infact if you were on a tight schedule id skip it altogether. Although it is the capital, its not like other world capitals, theres not a tonne of stuff to see and do as a tourist. Ive heard nothing but good things about the night life and club scene though, but I wasn’t too keen on going out so I don’t have any evidence to back that up. I mainly stayed longer so that I could be in a big city with a big cemetery for All Saints Day, and happy I did. Saying that though its a lovely city to just wander the old town, sit down and relax, read a book, listen to a violinist.