Warsaw – Aug 31, 2006

One of the things that I was most unsure of before going to Europe, turned out to be one of the best and simplest aspects of my time there. I’d never really ridden trains before. As a very young child, there was a day-liner that ran from our small town to Calgary that I rode occasionally with my mother, but that was it. I’d heard from many places how convenient the trains in Europe were, but my Prague to Warsaw overnight trip really sealed the deal. For less than the cost of a hotel room, I arrived in Warsaw reasonably well rested. I got a semi-private sleeping car, with 6 beds, and ended up in a partially full one. Had a VERY good nights sleep, considering I was on a moving train.

Warsaw train station is a huge complex in downtown Warsaw, a labyrinth of underground passages connecting subway, train, bus and streetcar for all of Warsaw. In a week of wandering through downtown Warsaw, I still didn’t master the underground maze. On the day I left, I felt I was just beginning to finally grasp the layout, and yet I still spent 30 minutes wandering aimlessly trying to find the specific Internet cafe I was looking for. One the day i arrived, I tried to avoid the complexity of it all together … I knew the hotel I was going to, but I had no idea where it was. So I found the closest stairway to street level, flagged down a taxi, and said “Hotel Felix.”

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It’s not a luxury hotel … the decor is very much 1970’s Soviet-chic, with the kind of manual door elevator we only see in movies these days. Still, the staff was friendly, the room was comfortable, and the view, as you see above, was reasonable. The food in the restaurant was very nice, and the fellow who runs the convenience store was a wealth of local information ;-). Its located a few km outside the city center, but the transit system was so good it hardly mattered. A quick streetcar ride later that day had me back downtown, and after the roughly $.20 fare I was a bit embarrassed about the $20 cab ride I’d taken earlier. Oh well … knowledge is valuable ;-).

One of the first buildings you notice in downtown Warsaw is the Palac Kultury, not least because it towers over most everything else. There are several museums and theatres on the site, but the only one I spent any time in was the museum of science and technology. I loved the architecture though. I was still pretty tired after the trip from Prague, so I headed back pretty early and explored closer to the hotel. I specifically wanted to find the church I’d seen from my balcony, and ended up finding a lovely little park nearby as well.

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