Today, May 17, was my final day in Warsaw.
This morning, we met at 8:00am (CET) to check out of our hotel and head west via train to Poznań (pronounced pose-nun). The same shuttle service that took us from the airport to the hotel our first day in Warsaw was waiting to take us from the hotel to the train station. This time, they upgraded the vans from Freightliner to Mercedes-Benz. Upon our arrival at the train station, which was not as modern as the metro we rode yesterday, we went upstairs to a McDonald’s to grab some breakfast. While there were certainly similarities to American McDonald’s, the quality of food and service was much higher. I ordered a yogurt “with crunch” (with granola).
We successfully boarded our train without losing any people or baggage, and were then able to enjoy the 3 hour train ride through the Polish countryside to Poznań, which included views of small villages and many canola farms. We were greeted upon our arrival in Poznań by a professor from Adam Mickiewitz University, where we will be studying. We went to our hotel, the NH Hotel Poznań, but were unable to check into our rooms because they were being cleaned. We locked our group’s luggage in the conference room and made our way to the Collegium Historicum for a welcome lunch. On our way to the University, we passed the Imperial Castle, which is the last castle ever constructed for royalty.
The meal at the University was delicious. It consisted of a chicken stock-based soup with sponge cake, roast roll with kraut and gravy, and not one, not two, but three magnificently fluffy rolls that would put Texas Roadhouse to shame. Our meal was accompanied by apple juice and water with fresh mint leaves. Dessert consisted of tea, coffee, and a strawberry shortbread layer cake topped with a thin layer of gelatin, whipped cream, half a strawberry, and dark chocolate. I don’t have any pictures of the food because phone use was prohibited at lunch.
After lunch, we returned briefly to the hotel room and checked into our rooms. We then went out on a brief walking tour of Poznań led by Dr. Harris, during which we saw the square, the location of many shops, parts of the University, and other points of interest. After the short tour, we were given free time until dinner. I went with several of the students to explore the city a bit more. We found a square with several flower shops stocked with beautiful, remarkably cheap arrangements, so we purchased our female professors two small bouquets of flowers. We also discovered an ancient wall of the city dating back to the 1200’s, many shops and markets, a fire station, restaurants from all different cultures, and many other sites. Poznań, while not nearly as upscale as Warsaw, has much more to see and do, more historic architecture (because unlike Warsaw, it was not wiped off the map during WWII), and a higher density of markets and shops. This is likely because it is a university-centered town, with roughly 1-in-2 residents being students.
As we were exploring the town, we stopped at a Stajca Pub to get something to drink because of some passing showers. Most of us got some variety of hot chocolate; I ordered a chocolate cappuccino (which had chocolate-rather than coffee-and steamed milk). Finally, we returned to the hotel to meet for our group dinner.
We ate our group dinner at a restaurant across the street from our hotel called Sphinx. It was an “American style” restaurant that still served a mix of cuisines. I ordered herb-crusted grilled salmon with lemon butter and fresh-squeezed lemon over garlic creamed spinach. I believe it was the best fish I’ve ever eaten, and it was only around $11.
After dinner, a few of us journeyed down the street to a below-ground market because some people were craving gummy bears (long story). It turned out that the market had everything under the sun except gummy bears, including one of the best candy bars I’ve had (the layers were chocolate, Oreo icing, Oreo cookie, Oreo icing, chocolate).
We went back to the room to drop our grocery purchases off, and then some of us went back out to the square to socialize for a while. We returned to the hotel about 11:00pm (CET) and retired for the evening. We did, however, stop at a different convenience store (I think the name translated to “The Green Frog”) to get some gummy bears and chewing gum. I enjoyed my first day in Poznań, and I look forward to the rest of my stay here.