We were in Warsaw for nine days. That might seem strange, once you read how little we saw, but we did a lot of sitting in cafes and people-watching: enough so that I feel confident saying one entire day passed that way. No regrets.
- Multimedialny Park: This was the first thing we really saw in Poland, and I suspect that it has a lot to do with why we enjoyed the country so much. We happened upon this park on a warm, sunny day. It was a weekday, and there were school groups in matching shirts, moms with strollers, Polish families on vacation, people taking a lunch break, old people taking a break, and everyone in between. There was a big fountain in the center of the park, which had different jet patterns, in an artistic formation. But it wasn’t the artistry that we enjoyed most. It was the warmth and the screeching when the jets changed direction to drench someone sitting on the periphery. And the fact that every kind of person was in the park: different income levels and ages, all enjoying the same simple pleasure. Oh, and did I mention that ice cream was only a dollar or so?
- The Chopin Museum: It was free, and it had lots of multimedia exhibits, with Chopin’s music and stories of his life. That said, I wouldn’t say this was one of my favorites. I liked reading about his life, and I appreciated that there was an entire room dedicated to his paramours! Maybe it was the fact that the explanations didn’t adequately help me understand the differences among all his compositions, from a polonaise or waltz to a nocturne or a sonata. I often find that specialized museums primarily seem to be talking to those who already know something about the specialized area, and I am sadly very musically-challenged. The museum had a nice garden, and a couple was even having wedding photos taken in front of the building in their elaborate finery.
- The Warsaw Ghetto: We stayed quite close to the original Warsaw ghetto wall, so we passed it when going to the grocery store or to get the mail. It really reinforced the reality of the atrocities committed here.
- National Stadium: The stadium’s parking lot seems to host local drag races and teen loitering, which made it feel like we were seeing the real Poland. (B wasn’t as big a fan.) The stadium itself wasn’t much of anything, since nothing was going on, but it did light up on the outside, making for nice photos.
- Graffiti Tour: We inadvertently went on a graffiti tour of Warsaw, which was fun. It seemed like an entire area by Lazienski Park was designated for street art, though I doubt the city had anything to do with that.
- Lazienki Park: This was a very royal park, and it showed. Lots of castles and sculptures, plus another wedding party or two. The best part was the peacocks roaming about a cafe built into an old pavilion. It was a peaceful walk, but nothing really stopped us in our tracks. There were quite a few roving tourists, along with construction (and shirtless construction workers, Melissa!) and some closed-off areas, so perhaps that contributed to our impression.
- Palace of Culture and Science: I’m not sure what kind of culture is showcased here, but the top floor of this building is a big viewing platform. It offers a great view of the city, and it wasn’t super crowded when we went, so it felt fairly intimate. Right in front of the building is also where B found himself a pick-up game of basketball, and I found a wifi hotspot, so we quite liked it.
What We Skipped:
- National Museum: We ran out of time.
- Warsaw Uprising Museum: The line to get into this place was pretty ridiculous. Given the time at which we came and the expected time of waiting, we couldn’t even be sure we’d get in before it closed. So, we walked home instead.
- Museum of the History of Polish Jews: We experienced some of this in Krakow, luckily, since I was a bit too depressed by the Ghetto Walls and other monuments to see it here.
- Museum of Cartoon Caricatures: We ran out of time, sadly.
- Museum of Posters: I wanted to check this out, but it required a long subway ride, plus an expensive cab ride, since it was quite out of the way. I would have walked, but I didn’t have two to three hours, unfortunately.
- Wilanow Palace: Right next to the Poster Museum, this would have also required quite the trek.
- Marie Curie Museum: We were short on time for this one.
- Copernicus Science Center: It was closed when we passed, sadly, and we didn’t return.
- Museum of Contemporary Art: They had more unique museums, so we prioritized those. (Not that we got to most of them, but still.)