Trip to Warszawa, Poland

Continue from previous post (Berlin)
A day after Berlin Marathon, I took train ride to east of Berlin and arrived at Warsaw, Poland six hours later. When my FB friends saw my status about Poland, they asked me "why Poland, what are you doing there?" Then I asked them back.... "Why not Poland?"

Sitting next to me in the train was Maria, a sweet Polish girl. She's a university student from Krakow on the way home and currently she's an exchange student in a university in Berlin. For six hour, we passed through warm-up period and talking about lots of thing to each other. You won't feel six hours is a long journey when you meet up wonderful people along the way.
Travel to Warsaw
When we arrived at Warsaw, Maria took another train to Krakow about 300 km south of Warsaw and I when straight to a big mall Zlote Tarasy next to the central station looking money changer (by the way, Poland using "Zloty" as currency instead of Euro) and I had my dinner there. 

In general, Poland is so much cheaper than Germany. I tried to do a comparison between Malaysia and Poland, I think stuff in Poland are twice more expensive but not as expensive as Singapore. The country still lagged behind Western Europe but they are catching up fast. Polish language sounds like Russian because they are part of Slavic languages. The spelling may not be the same as it sounds and I did learn some basics. Now I can read Polish words although I'm not sure what it means. I read an article claiming that Polish language is the most difficult language to learn in the world. Maybe because of that, not many foreigners living and working in Warsaw. I hardly see any Asian looking people here.

Later I met up with Agata at the mall. She just finished her dance classes and I followed her back to her apartment. She bought the two-bedrooms apartment in Marymont and renting the other room to her friend. One week I was there, I only met her friend once because most of the time she was at her boyfriend's place. Most of the time, it was only Agata and me. Although small apartment, it is very clean and cozy place. Agata also very good cook, I love her pan-searing Salmon with veggies. 
My host in Warsaw
Agata guided me around Warsaw when she was free, sometimes I wandered around the city alone. Thanks to Google map on my iPhone, I never got lost. First place I visited was a monument to fallen soldiers and civilian insurgents who involved in Powstanie Warszawskie 1944 (The 1944 Warsaw Uprising) against German occupation. Actually, Poland is full with depressing history due to their involvement in World War 2. In fact, I went to the Uprising museum later and I learned a lot about Poland and WW2 there.
Powstanie Warszwaskie Monument

Then we walked to Old Town part of Warsaw. The place which used to have beautiful architecture was rebuilt because it was completely destroyed and razed by The Third Reich Army. Agata told me, if I go to Krakow I can see a lot more amazing old architectures compare to what they have here in Warsaw, and that giving me an idea to visit Krakow later.
Old town area with Warsaw Barbican and market place

In front of Royal Castle
I was eager to try Polish traditional meal and Agata took me to Zapiecek in the Old Town area. We ate dumplings which initially I thought it was Chinese dumpling. What attracting me the most was the girls serving us in the restaurant. They dressed in Polish traditional  folk costume and they all very pretty and friendly. In my opinion 50% of Polish girls I met on the street were beautiful!! There was one time I went to a bar to watch Agata's friend playing in a band, I found all the girls in the room were gorgeous! I think I will met my future other half if stay here slightly longer.
Delicious lunch at Zapiecek
From Old Town we walked through Krakowskie Przedmiescie a famous stretch in Warsaw surrounded by historic buildings and churches such as Royal Castle, Presidential Palace, Warsaw University, Hotel Bristol, Holy Cross Church, Carmelite Church, etc.
Krakowskie Przedmiescie
We walked quite a distance that day, where finally we got to the tallest building in Warsaw, Palac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science). This building is so majestic in my opinion but many Poles don't like it. The building was a controversial from its inception. I was told it was a gift by Joseph Stalin to Poland in 1955. Originally, it was known as Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science before Stalin's name was later removed in the interior lobby. Poles considered it to be a symbol of Soviet domination and the feeling persist until today. To demolish the building may not be a good idea but I think Poland should build another landmark something like Petronas Tower to overshadow the building. Currently the building serves as an exhibition center and office complex. There are also cinemas, teathers, shops, museums, conference halls and a university in that building 

Palac Kultury i Nauki
Agata is a flamenco dancer, top 5 flamenco dancer in Poland actually. Following her passion, she teaches flamenco to her students full time daily although she's a psychologist by profession. She's being a psychologist, we always had interesting talks about human mind and behaviour over the meal everyday. But one day I decided to join one of her flamenco classes. I found that girls who can dance flamenco are fit looking and sexy too. You will burn lots of calories when you practice flamenco. Of course, not only for young girls but there were also few older ladies joining the class.
Flamenco class
Sometimes when Agata had classes, I went out exploring the cities on my own. She suggested me to visit Lazienski Park the biggest and most beautiful park in Warsaw. It's bigger than any parks in Kuala Lumpur. The landscape mixed of French Garden with English Park and is much loved place for local residents and tourist to stroll. The weather a bit too cold for an autumn when I was there. I wish I was there during spring season. One of the most popular places in the park is the Fryderyk Chopin Monument with open theatre for classical performance during summer. 
Royal Lazienski Park
One of must visit places is Warsaw Rising Musuem which located in former trams power station. The museum is tribute to people who fought and died to free Poland and its capital from Nazi's occupation. The exhibition shows the struggle of everyday life before and during the uprising and the horror during the occupation. It was a bit depress for us. 
Warsaw Uprising Museum
They even have the real size replica of the bomber Liberator B-24J. We also watched a 3D movie the "City of Ruins". It's simulation of flight over devastated Warsaw in 1945. 
They are real guns used during the war
There are exhibition about Soviet Union too. Poland used to be a socialist country and they were dominated by the Soviet Union right after the WW2.
Many images and other stuffs on display
Another good museum to visit is Centrum Nauki Kopernik (Copernicus Science Center). It was named after a Polish scientist in the early 1500s, Nicolaus Copernicus who established a finding that planets revolve around the sun and not around the earth. At the place we planned to meet up with one of Agata's friend Rafal. Rafal is working in local advertising agency. We thought the place will be crowded with kids, but even a group of grandmas also went there for an excursion. It is a huge building including a planetarium. We have to buy another tickets for planetarium.    

Centrum Nauki Kopernik
The place is so huge and full with exciting science experiments, it takes several hours to cover the whole exhibition halls. I think kids will be enjoying it so much, if adults also feel fascinated by the scientific discovery in our daily lives.
Copernicus Science Museum
When Agata had back to back classes until night, she asked Rafal to take me out of the city for other exciting places to visit. First place he took me was a park at luxury real estate area and he told he's going to show me something unusual which cannot be found in other country. After taking a short walk in the park, we arrived at this structure looks like a barn full with dried branches stack up as high as 10 meters high from outside. To enter the place we have to purchase 10 Zloty ticket per person. At the center of the structure, it was filled up with mist coming out from an underground pipe with mineral water pumping up to the surface. I was told it is a spa for special therapy if you have asthma or respiratory problem. The air was so refreshing in there and I felt so calm.
A spa in the middle of public park
After that we had a long drive out of Warsaw to visit an old castle known as Ruiny Zamku (Castle Circle) at Czersku which was built around 1000 years ago. It was almost dark when we arrived there, the visiting hour has ended and the entrance gate was closed. Since we have been driven so far, we decided to break-in into the castle via small hole at the vandalized fence that we found.
Zamek w Czersku
I could feel the creepiness being in the empty old castle. At that point of time, I know we were not alone, something living in there looking at us for admiring their place. In fact, there are many castles around Europe. Rafal told me about his friend who inherited a castle from her family and she turned that castle to be a boutique hotel. Right before we left we bumped into a bunch of teenagers went into the tower. Not sure what were they doing. 
a thousand years old castle
Later we drove back to Warsaw and Rafal took to me to a traditional Polish restaurant near his place. The restaurant is kinda posh restaurant and only a few of this kind can be found in Warsaw. According to Rafal, majority of the restaurants in Warsaw serving foreign dishes like French cuisine, Chinese, Thai, Turkish and fast food. He introduced me to a popular local dish which normally serve during Christmas, one of them is raw meat mix with spices where the cook prepares the dish right in front of you at the dining table. I can't really describe the taste, not so tasty but I can eat it. Well, when you travelling you should try and experience local things, right?
Stary Dom Restaurant
After dinner, we went to pick-up Agata at her dance studio and then out for coffee at popular hang out place near the city center. There are several coffee shops around this roundabout with a half burned arch in the middle. There is a story behind it, why the authority just let it be like that.

It was an amazing trip to Warsaw and thanks to Agata for being a great host. Hope I can give her the same if not better treatment when she comes visit Kuala Lumpur. I met many wonderful people there and they became good friends. I wish would be able to visit Warsaw again in the future. 
Next will be post on Krakow


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