DAY ONE | EVENING
We arrived into Warsaw from Krakow at 6.30pm and we were greeted on the train platform by Paula, our first ever Couchsurfing host! With Couchsurfing, people around the world offer up their couch or spare bedroom to travellers. It’s completely free, but it’s appreciated if you treat your host to dinner, or bring along a gift from your home country. As it was our first time, we had no idea what to expect!!
Our welcome could not have been warmer; we we greeted with a smile and a hug and bustled on to a bus to make the short journey to Paula and Frederick’s apartment, conveniently located within the Old Town, a couple of minutes walk from its centre. We were treated to a traditional Polish supper of Pierogis, sauerkraut, pickles and salad. Paula had even made the effort to make sure the Pierogis (dumplings) were vegetarian and reading the packet confirmed they were also vegan! They kindly gave up their room for us to sleep in; they slept in the lounge next door.
After supper, we went on an evening walk around the Old Town and were given an incredibly detailed tour of many of the buildings and areas we’d planned on visiting. We saw a colourful fountain, many churches, statues, a park and more! We saw the Barbican, the Old Town Market Place, Castle Square, The Royal Castle, St Anne’s church, Saxton Garden and a monument known as the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Poland’s freedom – we saw much more, I just can’t remember it all!
We only had one full day in Warsaw, but luckily much of what we wanted to see had already been covered in our fabulous night tour! Therefore, we could spend the day ambling back through the same streets to see some of the buildings and the square in the daylight. We were lucky enough to be inside St Anne’s church when it was almost empty, and whilst the organs were singing from above us. It was pretty special inside, but this was short lived thanks to 15 rowdy tourists who bustled in as part of a group and disturbed the peace! We also climbed to the top of St Anne’s church as there is a viewing terrace at the very top which allows you to look down on to the square and across the river to the National Stadium.
Afterwards, we slowly made our way to the more modern areas of the city, partly through a small park, in order to meet Paula for lunch. We decided on a vegan sushi place I’d read great things about called ‘Youmiko Sushi’. I’m not sure it was to Gary’s taste, but I loved it! It was imaginative as well as tasty. Paula also loves sushi and enjoyed hers which was good! We decided to treat her to lunch as a thank you for being such a great host 🙂
To walk off our full bellies, we headed to Łazienki Park (‘Royal Baths’ in English) – the largest park in Warsaw with 76 hectares of lush gardens, forests, rivers and palatial buildings.We stopped on the way to check out the rather posh interior of one the University buildings, which is popular for wedding photos and we could see why! We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening walking through the park, feeding the red squirrels (amazing!!) and relaxing in the sunshine; all whilst learning more about Warsaw’s history. Luckily for us, it was the ‘free day’ for the Palace (named Palace on the Isle) so we could also explore the Palace’s artsy and extravagant interior for free.
In the evening, we only had time to pop to the post office to send our postcards and nip into Subway to grab a quick dinner before it was sadly time to make our way back to the bus station for our overnight bus to Vilnius. Paula and Frederick kindly accompanied us to the bus station, waiting with us until their next bus home. It was a very short visit to Warsaw, but we saw and learnt a lot thanks to our great hosts! Thank you Paula & Frederick 🙂 I LOVED Poland and would go as far to say it’s been my favourite country so far. Warsaw, we will be back!