Since our cheap flight to Bangkok left from Warsaw, it was the obvious choice to make it the first stop of our trip. After about 5 hours of smooth train-ride Anne and I stepped off the Berlin-Warsaw express and were welcomed by an almost summer like atmosphere – soft evening light, a light breeze and about 22° Celsius. Stepping out of Warsaw Centralna, the first sight were several modern glass-covered office towers catching the evening sun, and amidst, like a relic from a different era, the massive and monumental Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN). It looked very impressive, so Anne and I agreed that we would check it out while exploring Warsaw in one day.

The Hostel Helvetia where we stayed is located close to the University and old town, a good base for exploring. Unfortunately the place was very basic – ok for a hostel, good beds and very clean, but not memorable, no unique atmosphere. After finally getting the backpacks off our backs we asked for a good local place to eat, and were recommended a pub called Retrospekcja on Bednarska street. It was a nice ten minute walk through the park Kazimierzowski below the university, and the pierogi were a treat – not fancy, but very tasty, in three different varieties, filled with meat, cheese or spinach. Of course we tried all three. The place was frequented by Polish people, and had a good, relaxed atmosphere.

First thing that morning we tried to book the flights to Myanmar and back, but were only half succesful – most airline websites suck big time when it comes to form usability, and I hate being forced to pay 12 Euros credit card charges just because the alternate payment method offered on the site is “currently” and conveniently not available at the moment. After struggeling for about one hour we gave up, still missing the flight back from Yangon to Bangkok. Once outside, our one day in Warsaw started very promising – blue sky, few clouds and quite warm. In search for a good coffee we walked down Nowy Swiat, and quickly found the perfect place – a french bakery café, which had a huge and tasty variety of bread and bakery goodies and sandwiches, not to mention great coffee. This breakfast helped to charge up for the task of the day – exploring Warsaw city. University and old town were first, basically it is just a short walk up Nowy Swiat.

A fun thing was learning little bits about the life of Chopin by several benches around the university and old town which point out landmarks and describe the situation in which they played an important part in Chopins life. Best thing, the benches have speakers and upon pressing a button play back recordings of Chopin’s beautiful piano pieces in good quality – quite a treat to sit and enjoy.

Old town in Warsaw is a small quarter with pretty narrow houses. I especially like the colors in old town Warsaw – houses are painted in faded blues, pinks, greens and beige in many shades, complimenting each other. The market square is especially pretty, surrounded by colorful and richly detailed houses that hug close to each other, looking down on the terraces of the many cafés and pubs that populate the square. One market square attraction was an old barrel organ player with a parrot that said “Hello”.

New town is separated from old town by the city wall, from which one has a nice view down to the river Wisla. Except for the museum of Marie Curie with a colourful mural painting of her and her two discoveries, Radium & Polonium, there was nothing much special about new town. It is simply a pleasant area with pubs, cafés and several nice small shops. Since we had the visit to Anne’s acquaintance Daniel and the Palace of Cultures on our agenda we didn’t spend much time but headed back around noon.

Taking pictures around old and new town, I realized it had been a mistake not to bring the 70-200 – there were just too many good shots that I couldn’t take, so I felt almost angry with myself. I’m glad Anne and I discovered a good remedy for that – a hipster carrying a fabric bag which read in capitals “DON’T MISS IT TOO MUCH”. Now every time I feel like I’m missing out on something, I tell myself exactly that – there’s no point in missing things so much that I miss out on the things that are actually there (like the other great lenses I have in my backpack).

By the way, if you like the pictures in the preview, you can find some more here on flickr.