Warsaw is the perfect spot for a quick city trip. In and out in a weekend with lots of sightseeing in between. After WWII not much was standing in Warsaw but the citizens rebuilt it again, including the castle. Quite a feat!
I splurged on the hotel for the two nights and checked in at Mamaison Hotel La Regina in the old town. It was totally not worth it and when I come again I won’t stay in the old town. This part really is only for tourists and life is happening outside of this area.
After my weekend I really think Warsaw is worth another visit because two days can only give you an overview. But I used my time wisely and did two free walking tours. I started Saturday morning with the Jewish Warsaw tour and finished in the afternoon the Old Town tour. I can recommend both and there is not much overlap.
The Jewish walking tour is really about the history. You have to use your imagination to grasp all of it because there is not much to see. With the uprising in the ghetto in 1943 the houses were razed and if I remember correctly only about six or so were left standing. So this area is fairly new and people just built over the rubble of the old. The streets are still on the same level but houses are elevated as you can see from these stairs leading up to the entrance.
What impressed me most was the memorial for the bridge which connected the two parts of the ghetto. The wooden bridge has long been gone but the memorial shows how it looked like. Don’t forget to check out the slide show inside the pillars.
Also, what you shouldn’t miss while in Warsaw is Polin, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. It takes you back a 1000 years and come full circle until the present. I loved it being so interactive that you can easily spend hours inside which is exactly what I did on Sunday afternoon. Of course the Holocaust is covered as well. The level of personal details was heartbreaking and reminded me again that we all have to stay vigilant.
Saturday afternoon I walked around with the Old Town tour and the starting point was the square in front of the castle. Look how the square is sloping off to one side. The castle is right behind me.
Most of the tour covered an area which I had seen on my own the evening before. But I enjoyed the stories of Warsaw and also the recommendations for Polish paczki (donuts). We passed the old market square which had looked a lot better during the sunny weather the day before.
Interesting was also the Warsaw Barbican. This fortification is from the 16th century but of course needed rebuilding in the last century. It’s kind of cool to have such a landmark in the city.
Everybody should also have the Warsaw Uprising Museum (the uprising of the German occupation happened in 1944) on his list. I know I had it but unfortunately the entrance was for free on that Sunday and the line-up for ever. So I decided against it but keep it in mind for next time. Because there will be a next time. Warsaw is a fun city. Yours, Pollybert