Short visit to Warsaw – part V

Royal Castle square with column and view towards Old Town
Royal Castle square with column and view towards Old Town

When we started our city tour I thought that the weather would change to the better but I was wrong: The mist increased and the temperature dropped towards 0° Centigrade. We continued walking through Old Town where my tour-guide told about the history of the capital of Poland and why it was resided from Kraków to Warsaw. She explained the situation before, during and after WWII and what effort was necessary to reconstruct and rebuilt it.

My eyes grabbed images that where astonishing beautiful and also very reminding. At buildings you could find very often the word “Hitlerowcy” which means “Nazis” and is a constant reminder of the fanatic German leader of that time. I will not talk and discuss history here in my blog because that is something that all readers should be aware of and handle it by themselves.y recommendation for a visit to Warsaw is: Don’t go there when the sun doesn’t shine. It does have a huge influence on you and your reception of things.

We strolled further on through Świętojańska towards the Old Town market place. We passed by beautiful buildings that have been restored and rebuilt on the remaining of the war ruins. The job that they’ve done is amazingly good accomplished and the results are showing us the beauty of the past centuries. It’s a residential area and the housing costs are somehow affordable although the rent for a two-room apartment is roughly 2,000 PLN which equals 500 EUR in general in Warsaw. The exact costs might be slightly higher because of the fact that privileged people are renting here.

Reaching the town walls (Fortyfikacje staromiejskie) again we turned left to go back to Krakowskie Przedmieście passing by the Sigismund’s column (Kolumna Zygmunta III Wazy) towards the university and the new town center. Time to leave Old Town for a view of the new Warsaw – walking over Nowy Świat and then turning into Chmielna where I stopped at Cafe Lukullus to savour a piece of chocolate cake.

After four hours we closed down my booked city tour with overwhelming information I could have researched by myself but never would have done so. Marta offered my the chance that when I do encounter any kind of problems during my stay, I can call her for help. This is like a lifebelt when you don’t speak the local language and you might get lost or in trouble. I think that the money I spent for the tour was a very good investment – into the future.

More to come, soon …

Continue reading “Short visit to Warsaw – part V”


Short visit to Warsaw – part IV

Krakowskie Przedmieście towards Old Town Castle place
Krakowskie Przedmieście towards Old Town Castle place

Today the guided city tour and my appointment with Marta – the licensed private tour-guide – was scheduled for 10:00 o’clock. She was supposed to pick me up at the hotel, directly. I was curious if it will work.

After almost seven hours of sleep (the walls are not that noise insulating but …) I did get an excellent breakfast at my hotel. Returning back down to the reception my tour-guide was waiting for me. She did have a comfortable car and we started our tour after she was informed by me what to do and what to see. I am widely open to everything because I am a Novice to Warsaw and I like to make the best out of my stay.

We started right at the corner of ul. Stalowa because many movies have been shot here in Praga. Directors love the urbanity and the “still post WWII” attitude of this suburb. While Marta was driving she explained who directed the films (for example Roman Polanski: The Piano) and when the motion picture movies have been shot (Steven Spielberg: The Schindler’s List). It might attract movie fanatics but for me as a former film and TV technology reporter/journalist there was no need to dig deeper into it.

Our tour continued and we passed by the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene which I decided not to visit at this point. Maybe a little later but …

Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene
Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene

From here we crossed the river Vistula and she guided my through the university quarter that grabs my attention because of its very modern design and the openness of the new library that was opened to the public in Dec 1999. The distinct building includes a botanical garden, located on the roof.

Further on Marta drove towards the Hotel Bristol where we parked the car to walk into Old Town after we did visit the inside of the Art Nouveau building that was constructed between 1899 and 1900. Fortunate enough it survived WWII relatively unscathed. It was the headquarter of the Chief of the Warsaw district during war times and was standing nearly alone among the rubble of its neighbourhood in spring 1945. The hotel was renovated and reopened in the same year.

The view from the 7th floor over the town might be breathtaking when the sun is shining, but with misty weather it wasn’t that beautiful.

Back on Krakowskie Przedmieście she explained how this street and the surrounding area looked about over two hundred years ago. The image I got was very nice and we walked on to reach the Castle square. Visiting this area in bright sunshine brings you different emotions. Unfortunately – it didn’t rain, which was fortunate enough – when we reached the Royal Castel square it was windy, all wet and very unpleasant. Marta explained what happened to the Royal Castle during WWII and how it was re-erected after the ruination by the German bombs and why we nowadays can enjoy it again in its old beauty: all construction plans have been saved and therefore it could be reconstructed.

I was overwhelmed by all the information I did receive about the times while German occupation was in progress. Me, as a Pacifist, I couldn’t understand why all this happened. But this was only the first step into the young Polish history of the last century.

There is more to come – please continue reading.

Continue reading “Short visit to Warsaw – part IV”

Short visit to Warsaw – part III

Light Box room at the Hotel Stalowa 52 in Praga
room Light Box at the hotel Stalowa 52 in Warsaw Praga

Walking from the hotel towards the tram stop of line #23 on Czynszowa I encountered many houses that do need immediate action to keep them “alive”. But I was told later by the tour-guide that it’s only the outer walls that do look ugly. Most of the buildings are inside in almost proper shape and people are living there. Prices per square meter range from 2,500 up to 4,500 EUR which sounded unbelievable high to me compared to the average income of a Polish craftsmen/worker which equals between 1,500 to 2,800 Zloty as I was told by several people! I did see many cars at the roadside that obviously have been standing there for a very long time: obviously not used for a long time with flat tires and blind windows. A scene to think about. And that was what I did: Why did I choose to go to Warsaw? Because the Old Town is a World Heritage Site listed with the UNESCO.

Besuch von Warschau
On ul. Stalowa

The tram took me from Praga over the river Vistula almost to Old Town. I passed by the Royal Castle that as well as the old town itself and the city was bombarded and totally destroyed during WW II. Thoughts regarding that time came into my mind and made me think about it and what German soldiers had done at that time before the Warsaw Uprising started. But I am here, sitting in a modern tram and it’s the 21st century.

Now the tram crossed the modern town center where skyscrapers, the Palace of Culture and Science, banking blocks and business centres dominated the scenery. It all look not very shiny and the weather did its part. My mood didn’t rise again. I did see little street markets where people have been selling their last goods – that what I felt to see.

street markets

Not very well and wealthy dressed people were wandering around and trying to value what they get offered. I did feel that the gap between rich and poor is much bigger than in Germany. Maybe I’m wrong. I have to figure it out …

At the very end of the line – in Nowe Bemowo – the tram turned 180° and stopped that all passengers could disembark. The area I was in could have been somewhere in the western world: Middle development, suburban atmosphere and mixed social classes. I jumped on the next tram heading back “home” towards Praga. I needed to take a shower, unpack my things and get something to drink and eat. It was almost five o’clock in the afternoon and time to it.

The ride took me back in about 50 minutes. The last 300m distance was easily achieved and my luggage waiting for me. I was very much looking forward to move into my hotel room “Light Box”.

The room was tastefully furnished, well designed and comfortable equipped. When you go to the website of the Arthotel Stalowa 52, you’ll see the room Light Box right on the homepage as the center image. I liked it from the beginning and didn’t change my mind. After I made myself feel like being kind of home, I decided to plan for my evening dinner somewhere at a nice, little restaurant.

Although the restaurant in my hotel looked nice and fancy at that particular evening they had a private party where I didn’t belong to. Therefore I followed a recommendation and took a taxi to the Soul Kitchen in the city center. This restaurant is very authentic, supports the slow food idea, offers good wine and cocktails as well as serious live music played on the piano.

I was lucky that I could find a table for myself because this place was packed by locals. I started with a G&T (Hendricks) followed by a pumpkin soup. When I finished it up I ordered a goat cheese salad with some homemade bread. This salad was a huge portion so I didn’t need a main course. I closed my stomach with a Cappuccino and a Port wine.

Although I could have taken a tram or bus going back to the hotel, I decided to take a taxi again. It was convenient – because it was raining – and kind of affordable. Both trips came up in total to 60 Zloty including tips.

Palace of Culture and Science
Palace of Culture and Science

What a day: My first day in Warsaw! I went to my hotel room as soon as I reached my destination. I logged my Mac Book into the Wifi network, wrote and sent a couple of WhatsApp messages, checked my emails and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the mattress.

Continue reading “Short visit to Warsaw – part III”