TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Welcome to Day 3. Today was an action-packed day which featured much walking carrying 10kg+ bags. Well, I wasn’t carrying such a bag – who do you think I am?! I was adding to the weight of Charlie’s bag by riding in it. We packed up and left our beautiful AirBnb room. On reaching the pavement, we took a moment to assess which window had actually been ours. We found it quickly and departed in search of an adaptor plug. Although we had bought a plug with us, neither human had thought to check if it would actually work in Polish plug sockets. Needless to say, it didn’t fit, therefore our first trip was to Saturn. Not the planet, don’t be stupid, you can’t walk to a different planet. No, Saturn is an electronics shop. We set off across the city, in the baking sun, my humans weighed down by their bags and me (not that I’m a burden of course). We reached the first Saturn and discovered… nothing! The shop was no longer there and Google had not updated us about this occurrence.
Onwards! To the next Saturn located in Arcadia, a shopping centre. We were relieved to discover this Saturn did still exist and after searching through the crate of many adaptors which weren’t the one we wanted, we did find a UK to Poland adaptor. Mission complete!
Next up was the Old Town, our plan for the day, on the way to which, we passed some information about the Ghetto.
In 1940, up to 400,000 Warsaw Jews were crowded into this ghetto before being sent to the Treblinka extermination camp. In 1943, there was an uprising, the Jews revolted against their Nazi oppressors and, although a large number of them were killed when the Nazis ordered the ghetto to be burnt, up to 300 Nazis were killed too. Wikipedia tells me it was the single largest Jewish uprising against the Nazis during the war. As with the Berlin Wall which we discovered in Berlin (surprisingly enough) last year, the Ghetto Wall had been preserved with the inscription Ghetto Wall/ Mur Getta (in Polish) 1940-1943 running the length of the wall’s route.
Soon we had reached the basilica, a rather grand entrance to the Old Town, which we marched through to admire the beautiful, colourful old houses. As it turned out, a lot of these houses were not, in fact, old at all, but had been rebuilt in this old style after the city was mostly levelled during World War II. This area of Warsaw was much more tourist-infested than the other areas of the city we had visited, there was a particularly high burden of school groups. Despite there being too many people, we had a good old explore of these amazing streets and even found a big bell in the middle of a street. The view of the Vistula was rather terrifying though, but for once the humans didn’t insist on crossing to what may lay on the other side.
Presently, we came to the square which was rather large and contained a giant building which was almost pink! I was particularly happy about this. The humans’ stomachs told them it was lunch time and so we crossed a fancy old stone bridge over a road (a road which appeared to run under the square) and reached a bench in a wonderfully tree-filled area overlooking some houses and far away from the majority of the other humans.
After lunch, we headed off in search of the Royal Castle/ Palace, which turned out to be the big pink building – stupid humans. This palace had been completely destroyed during WWII but was now fully repaired. Some concrete pillars remain on display from the original building.
Although one had to pay to enter, walking around the sides and the courtyard was free, so that’s what we did. In the courtyard was a display about some Polish people, but it was written in Polish so we didn’t really understand what was happening. Charlie’s questionable translation skills don’t stretch to Polish. No matter, we exited the courtyard of the main building and went to observe the Palace with the Tin Roof. This building wasn’t pink, which made me sad, it was grey, but the roof was green, which I did approve of. Having run out of free things to do in the Old Town (and not finding any cannons in the castle), we headed off in search of the secret gardens of the Warsaw University Library. This was a terribly kept secret, the garden was full of people including many more groups of school kids. These gardens were behind the green library building, but also on its roof, accessible by a very long stair case. I’m glad I wasn’t walking it.
We reached the roof to enjoy some stunning panoramas of the city, including a certain giant building with a clock, located very near our AirBnb and favourite ice cream shop. After returning to the ground level gardens and sitting a little while under the shade of a lovely big tree, the humans decided it was time for a final trip to the aforementioned favourite ice cream factory.
It was but a short walk through some more gardens. This time Charlie ordered peanut butter, strawberry and granola and Jack opted for Oreo, banana and strawberry. This final trip went down just as well as the other two, although this time the humans actually stayed on site to eat rather than returning to the AirBnb. In fact, this was my first time entering this shop, having stayed at the AirBnb previously.
Ice cream consumed and two hours until we had to catch our train, we decided to visit a nice park and relax a bit. Unfortunately for me, we never actually made it to this most desirable of locations as the humans got distracted by a war museum. Here many fighter planes, tanks and cannons (!) were on display. We had to take a look around. I must admit I was sold on this idea when I saw the cannons.
I put up with the humans admiring the tanks and aeroplanes for my chance to finally sit on a REAL LIVE CANNON! I was very happy, as you can probably tell. There were even some giant modern cannons, painted in various shades of camouflage. I was in my element! There was also a variety of tanks and planes, dating from WWI to the Cold War, some vehicles were still being used in the 80s, one still into the 2000s. This was a nice, unexpected trip and although I won’t tell them so, I will privately agree with Charlie that this was better than just sitting in the park. There were even some trees and benches here for me to enjoy. And a rather lovely swordfish-nosed plane (I don’t know why… a fashion conscious plane perhaps? Or aerodynamics). And what may be even better – there was an amphibious vehicle, a car that could sail on water. I was very excited as I realised the possibilities. I could travel across water without getting my paws wet. But then I realised such a vehicle already exists. It’s called a boat and I don’t like them – too close to the water. Maybe an amphibious vehicle isn’t so great after all!
All too soon it was time to leave this museum and return to the station one last time. Our departure was rather sped up by the arrival of another school group at the museum meaning we arrived at the train station with half an hour to spare. This was a good thing as our train appeared to be going to Vienna! Or Budapest. Or maybe even Prague, which was where we were hoping it would take us. After looking at the carriage labelling on the platform, it appeared the rear carriages would split from the Vienna train somewhere and continue to Prague unaided. Minor confusion sorted, we waited happily for the train. When it arrived, a guard checked our tickets on the door and rather alarmingly stole our Interrail passes. But not to worry, apparently we get them back at the end of the journey.
We found our compartment where we had two bottom bunks of a six bed compartment. As another two people wouldn’t be joining us until Krakow (the very same station we visited yesterday), we made the most of exploring all six bunks in the compartment. There wasn’t much headroom so we had soon rearranged one middle bunk to make the back of a seat. Settled for the evening, we had a packed dinner and watched the sun set as the train sped across Poland.
We have all thoroughly enjoyed our trip in this stunning country. Although there were several things we couldn’t fit into our Warsaw adventure, such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Neon Musuem, the Vistula beaches and Brzeka Street, featuring pre-war houses and street art, we didn’t feel deprived of entertainment and historical learnings. The humans particularly liked the cheap food and we had a great time sampling the culture and all Warsaw and Krakow had to offer. This country will be missed but not forgotten. So long Poland and thanks for the memories!
Well, that seems about all I have to say to you now! See you in Prague! Until then, folks. Chesh.