Warsaw - Krakow, Poland, 2nd October - 5th October 2019
With no lessons for the rest of the week, it was a great time for yet another adventure. This time, I headed back to Poland, where cheap beer and food awaited me. Instead of spending 3 days in Krakow like my previous trip in June, I decided to head to Warsaw first with my parents. After my briefing on Wednesday, I rushed to the library to print my air tickets, before heading towards Luton Airport with my parents.
We arrived at Warsaw at 8.30pm and cleared customs extremely quickly. I was kind of surprised that there was no queue at all for the “all passports” section, unlike the “EU only” section. As Uber trips are extremely cheap here (a trip from the airport to our accommodation 20 minutes away only cost us 4 pounds), I decided to use Uber to travel around at night. Upon checking in at our hotel, we Ubered to Stary Dom for some fine dining. A decent meal consisting of mains and beer cost us only 30 pounds, much cheaper than the prices we were used to in our Iceland trip. This left us looking forward to the days to come.
We woke up to an early morning, and we took a bus to Bulke przez Bibulke, which served amazing pancakes and eggs for breakfast. For the first destination of the day, we travelled to the Warsaw Barbican, one of few remaining relics of the complex network of historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw. Following which, we made our way to the nearby Old Town Market Square. With architecture similar to that of Prague and Krakow, it was a familiar feeling, albeit in a much colder setting.
Old Town Market Square
The main attractions of the day however were the museums, mainly the POLIN museum and the Warsaw Rising museum.
The POLIN museum depicted the history of Polish Jews through 1000 years, while the Warsaw Rising museum depicted the heroic efforts of Warsaw’s uprising in World War 2. The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: Powstanie Warszawskie; German: Warschauer Aufstand) was a major World War II operation, in the summer of 1944, by the Polish underground resistance, led by the Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa), to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. The uprising was timed to coincide with the retreat of the German forces from Poland ahead of the Soviet advance. While approaching the eastern suburbs of the city, the Red Army temporarily halted combat operations, enabling the Germans to regroup and defeat the Polish resistance and to raze the city in reprisal. The Uprising was fought for 63 days with little outside support. It was the single largest military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II. (Cited from Wikipedia)
Warsaw Uprising Museum
After visiting our fair share of museums, we had our lunch at Podwale. I was absolutely taken aback by how cheap beer was there. On Mondays, you can buy 1 litre of draft beer for 8.5 Zloty, that’s 3 SGD! A litre of beer in Singapore costs on average about 20 SGD. After having our fill (and personally 1.3l of alcohol for lunch), we walked in the direction of our accommodation, taking pictures along the way before eventually settling for the night.
Huge Beer Mug!
With plans to take the train to Krakow at 9.20 AM, we checked out of the accommodation and made our way to Warsaw Centrum. As First Class tickets to Krakow were only 20 ZLT more expensive than the Second Class tickets, we decided to take a look at how different First Class was for intercity trains. After a sumptuous breakfast at Macdonald’s (I still maintain my stand that Polish Macs are the best in the world), we boarded the train the Krakow. The key difference between First Class and Second Class is the size of the seats and the leg space you get. Apart from that, there wasn’t any other difference. If you are able to deal with a slightly cramped space for a 3.5 hour train journey, then second class would be the way to go.
Departures from the train station
Upon arriving at Krakow, we had lunch at Podwale (again). This time, we tried their potato pancakes and had slightly less meat and beer than our previous meal. The potato pancakes tasted much like the vegetable biscuits we had back in Singapore, but with extra vinegar and a slightly stronger taste.
Following lunch, we checked in at Hostel 70s. Unlike most other hostels I have been to, hostel 70s was a Airbnb style hostel, which had their apartments in a separate building from the reception. Even though I booked a room for 3 people, the room they provided us was big enough to fit 6 people comfortably. There wasn’t much time to waste, so we headed out to visit the Wawel Castle and the Krakow main square. Being my second time visiting these areas, I brought my parents to the key places with good food and great scenery. With many shops selling souvenirs, hats, and other paraphernalia, time passed by quickly, and we soon had dinner and headed back for the night.
The last day in Krakow was particularly rainy, and we revisited the Wawel Castle. To our dismay, the queues for the tickets at the Wawel Castle were extremely long, and we decided that it was not worth the wait. We then walked the streets of Krakow old town again, before heading to Galeria Krakowska Shopping Mall. Despite the prices in Poland being significantly cheaper than that of places in the EU, the prices in major retailers like H&M, didn’t differ much from the prices in UK or Ireland. We spent a great part of our afternoon looking around at the various shops, before making a move to Kosciuzko Mound, a vantage point providing a view for a large part of Krakow. Upon reaching our destination and paying an entrance fee of 14 ZT, we made our ascent to the top of the mound. To our dismay, due to the bad weather, visibility of Krakow and Krakow Old Town was pretty poor. Nonetheless, we still managed to take a few shots before leaving for the Airport.
Despite it being the second time coming to Krakow, I still very much appreciate the cheap prices, the friendly people, as well as the clean streets. Next up, Bratislava and Vienna!