Warsaw. We spent a lot of time here in small chunks but I still feel like I didn’t really see it. It was the city we got picked up in for our numerous Angloville programmes. The day before the programme we had a complementary walking tour of the city, participating in three programmes meant three tours. “Why go on three?” I hear you cry, well, it’s nice to refresh your memory, but also, they gave us free lunch afterwards and as budget travellers, we would never say no to free lunch. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow volunteers before the programme started. Often after the tour and lunch there would be some beer drinking and socialising.
Although we walked around the town and learnt a lot, I never feel like I saw the whole city and got a real feel for it. It wasn’t until our last day there that I felt I really enjoyed it. However, I’ll start at the beginning.
We arrived about 11am after a very long coach journey from Bratislava, we were tired and I was still getting over my dodgy stomach from when we were in Slovakia. We had arranged another Air bnb stay, it wasn’t quite as great as out one in Tirana but still had everything we needed (bed, bathroom and somewhere to eat). It was in the Praga district, one of the only areas not destroyed in the war so was interesting to see all the old communist buildings.
Our host recommended a really local cafe for us to try, being local is was dirt cheap and not full of tourists. Win win. There was such a diverse group of people in there: mother and child, a couple having lunch and a beer, a woman eating pancakes and drinking wine, a man in a suit having a post-work beer, a biker having soup and two old ladies nattering away. It was a true taste of local life in Warsaw. Even better, the pierogi was delicious and didn’t make me ill. Horrah, I was better!
The next day was our first walking tour of the old town. However, ‘old town’ is an interesting way to describe it. The old town was completely destroyed in World War Two, and it took the efforts of the Polish community to rebuild it all with passion and motivation which is incredible. If you look at photographs of the town post-war, it’s amazing to see the work they’ve put in to making it how it is now.
Poland has such a long and sad history, yet they are so passionate and proud of their country, it’s admirable. We learnt about the history of the buildings and city three times, and each time I still couldn’t quite comprehend the extent of damage and tragedy in the city.
Our time back in Warsaw after our initial visit was always brief and had pretty much the same routine: Chilling out, going on the tour, lunch, meeting fellow volunteers and having drinks.
After our last Angloville programme, we were dropped back in Warsaw and headed to our final hotel. Our flight was booked for two days later and we were feeling blue about our travelling adventure soon being over. On our final day in Warsaw we went for one final stroll around the old town. We ate some pierogi, went up the tower in St Anne’s church and got a stunning view, and found an adorable cafe to watch the world go by. We walked for a while and found some modern looking fountains. The sun was out so we perched ourselves on a bench and watched children enjoy the fountain. The light from the sun so spectacularly got caught in the water and created a beautiful rainbow. It was a wonderful last say of our adventure.
I have fond memories of Warsaw; the kindness of students from Ukraine helping us get home, the intricate designs on the tram seats, the public toilets with scary cats and selling everything from toiletries to snacks, delicious food and 68p beer.
What a trip it was.