Today, May 15, marks the third day of my travels in Poland.
My morning began with a quick breakfast (a orange-cranberry German wafer bar and some water that I purchased at a quick-stop market last night) and a trip to the hotel lobby to meet our group at 8:45. We grabbed some bus tickets and hopped on the 105 route (ironic, considering there’s a similar AppalCart route) to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. The museum chronicles the progression of the Uprising both in the Ghetto and in Warsaw collectively. The museum has far too much information to chronicle, but I would like to highlight several things about it. First, the museum was exceptionally well-designed. From the layout, to the exhibits, to the constant heartbeat sound that droned in the background, it was a well-crafted piece of art. We spend the rest of the morning in the museum and then two of the other students and I caught the bus back to the hotel. After stopping by our room to grab a rain jacket, we headed out to find somewhere to eat lunch.
We chose to eat lunch near Old Town at a cafe called Smaki Starej Warszawy Piec. I ordered Szyncel po Warszawsku Maczany w Jajku, which is Warsaw-style schnitzel (pork cutlet dipped in egg and fried) with fries and kraut. It was an outstanding meal, and only cost the equivalent of ~$7.50.
We finished our lunch and walked through Old and New Town Warsaw for a while, visiting many different shops, including tea stores, chocolate factories, craft stores, churches, and more. I stopped at a Polish creamery called Kasa and got a strawberry ice cream cone. One scoop only cost 3 zł, which is $0.85. After returning back to the hotel, we met in the lobby at 2:45 to go visit the Holy Cross Church (Bazylika Świętego Krzyża), where Frédéric Chopin’s heart is kept. The church was very busy, as it is still an active church where Catholics come to pray, but we managed to take a few pictures.
After visiting the church, we returned to Old Town to tour the Warsaw Castle. Though it was demolished by Himmler during WWII, the castle was rebuilt and many of its original artifacts restored. The castle was magnificent; one thing that surprised me was how close they allowed you to get to extremely important, old, and rare artifacts and paintings-nothing like America. After we finished going through several floors of the castle, we journeyed to the basement to find a modern interactive tour that involved very well-made videos, touch screen computers, and displays that were available in both Polish and English. It was a very informative tour, and it was very interesting to learn about Polish royal history dating back a number of centuries. In one of the halls of the castle, an a Capella group was recording a performance, which was a wonderful melodious accompaniment to our journey throughout the castle.
After we toured the castle, we were free to go on our own for the rest of the evening. We browsed a number of local shops and vendors, included Warsaw’s world-renowned amber jewelers. We then began to deliberate on where to eat dinner. We settled on a street cafe called Królewskí, which mean’s “King’s house”, across from the Castle. The restaurant provided us with blankets and a fire, as it was getting quite chilly by now. I ordered Tagiatelle Pomodore which is a chicken and pasta dish, prepared with white wine, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, oregano, and parsley, that is borrowed from Italy, but has a Polish twist. It was very spicy, but delicious. The restaurant was right off the main square of Old Town, so we were able to watch the sunset while we dined, as well as observe the crowds of people out and about. It was a very peaceful and delicious meal, and was well-enjoyed after a long day of walking and tours. We found our way back to the hotel and concluded our third day around 10:30pm (CET).