Friday 7 February 2014

Warsaw, Poland: A freezing day trip

Since I extended my stay in Europe, I decided to pop by to Poland for a visit. I bought my coach ticket 2 hours before departure so it was quite a rush that I almost missed my coach. I ran so hard and got on the bus justttt as they were going to leave the bus station. My heart was pumping so hard. I think this is the longest coach ride so far on my trip, 14 hours. But it was an overnight trip so it wasn't that bad. I reached Warsaw and looked around the coach station for a money exchanger but to my horror, there was none. And I couldn't buy a metro ticket without Zloty. I tried asking the shop assistant if he could exchange some Zloty with me for Euros but he didn't understand me. So I was stuck with no local currency. Just as I was loitering around the Metro entrance in frustration, I saw these two people entering via the luggage/wheelchair exit. It was like my gleam of hope, so I decided to follow suit. So I managed to make it into the station but now the question was... which station should I go? The walking tour site didn't state the nearest metro, so I decided to get off at 'Centrum'. Wrong guess, I was 2 stops short and I had already missed the walking tour by then. So I decided to walk towards the Old Town from where I was. It was freezing by the way. It was warming up in Vienna so I thought the temperature was rising across Europe and brought along summer clothes. I was shivering in my jacket (luckily I still had a jacket), the wind was absolutely chilly. To make things worse, it drizzled on and off.

I finally reached the Metro, expecting to come out in the middle of Old Town but nope, wrong again. I came out to this (picture below). No idea what building it was but I managed to find a directory and found my way to Old Town Square. 

Old Town Square was really beautiful. I strolled around and took in the sights in awe. There was this poignant feel in Warsaw. Perhaps it was due to the gloomy sky or the cold weather or the fact that the Square was vast and so it didn't seem very crowded. As I was walking around, these three Polish little girls approached and asked me to take a photo with them! Hahaha! I was caught by surprise but amused at the same time. Then one of them told me 'I love Asia!' and they ran off before I could take a photo with them on my camera.

Finally I spotted a money changer along the rows of shops and restaurants. The exchange rate for SGD was terrible! It's not supposed to be so low but I guess they don't see a lot of SGD so the demand is low. So I exchanged Euros for Zloty and had a really late lunch at 3pm. I found this restaurant online and found it when I was wondering around. It's famous for Polish dumplings which looked a lot like our Chinese ones. But there was a variety of flavours, even sweet dumplings as dessert. I ordered a mixed plate and chose 9 different flavours. I couldn't mix the dessert ones though so I didn't get to try it. There were Russian, meat with cabbage, turkey with carrots, lentil, spinach with cheese and a few others which I can't remember. There were also three types of sauces to choose from: sour cream, gravy and butter. I asked the waitress what people normally order and she said gravy so I gave it a try. The staff were all dressed in blue and red Polish dresses by the way and it was sooo pretty and cute! I've never gone to a restaurant by myself before because it felt so strange, but being alone overseas gave me the opportunity to do so and it was quite an experience eating a meal with the company of yourself. I didn't have to wait too long for my food but the gravy was not what I expected. It was like fried lard in oil.. I didn't really know how you're supposed to eat it. I couldn't bring myself to pour the oil all over my dumplings so I just ate without the gravy. They were pretty dry and not particularly tasty either. I liked the spinach one best because at least it was not as dry as the rest.

I went for a Jewish walking tour and we met this old man who came up to us and said that he used to participate in the Jew uprising! He spoke very good English and told us that he wants to go around the world and tell people about the tragedy of the war and how we should all treasure peace. It was really a great honour to have met him. After the walking tour, I got so cold from the wind and the rain that I hid inside Starbucks to wait for my bus to Krakow.

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