Europe,  Poland,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Warsaw (Poland): Travel diary

Being based in Krakow, what could be easier to spend a weekend in Warsaw, only 3 hours by train from there. JB also takes the opportunity to attend the Coldplay concert in Warsaw, which cost him an arm and two legs, but it’s important to make his dreams come true

This is the 2nd time I go to Warsaw. The 1st time was when I was 5 years old. My mother was sent by the government to the USSR for a 6-month training in computer development and after this training, my mother and I took the train to France, where my father was also in training. To get to France, we had to change trains several times. And we had to stop in Warsaw, where initially we had to sleep at the station while waiting for another train to Belgium. We never forgot the kindness of this Polish lady, who met us at the station and who kindly offered us to come and sleep at her place. Apparently she even made us a good soup (I was too small to remember all the details). And she gave us a picture of her children, taken with Santa Claus. This photo is still with my parents today, and every time we look at it, we remember Warsaw with a lot of tenderness. But also of this journey which was extraordinary and full of twists and turns (maybe one day I will tell you about it)

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

How to get there

You can get from Krakow to Warsaw by bus or train, for about the same length of time. But the road is so bad that we advise you to take the train instead, between 12€ and 30€ per person.

The old town

Our hotel is located 20 minutes by streetcar from the old town. The streetcar can be easily taken as in Krakow, with the difference that there are fewer machines selling tickets directly in Warsaw streetcars and buses than in Krakow, so it is better to buy your tickets in advance

The first thing you see of the old town is a large column in front of the royal palace. We did not visit the royal palace because this one isn’t as good as Wawel and even Wawel disappointed us a little

The old city of Warsaw is much bigger than the one in Krakow. Personally, I prefer this one to Krakow, the main square is smaller, so we are quickly led to explore the small streets and come across buildings that are more beautiful one after the other

The only problem is that all this was rebuilt after the war and that can give a Disneyland side to it, especially if you’ve seen the post-war pictures



Rynek square (above) is my favorite place in Warsaw. There is a small fountain in the middle, where pigeons and birds are grooming. They are really too cute! At the restaurant bistro something next door, the birds occupy a sofa by themselves, to dry their feathers

I take the opportunity to go to the Amber Museum next door (free entrance) and leave with a ring (30 zloty). There you go, I was fooled by marketing

In Poland, they like to make miniatures of a monument/neighborhood in metal like this

Right next to this fort, we see a cat at the window, watching the tourists

The souvenir stores are full of amber jewelry/objects. I remember my mother brought me a doll of this type from her trip to Eastern Europe

We were not able to visit a church because everyone is getting married today it seems. We were able to squeeze in between weddings, but for churches, we advise you to visit on a weekday, not on the weekend

The ice creams here are delicious. JB also tested a kind of bread baked on charcoal but despite the price (11 zloty), it’s not good at all

Chopin Museum

Frankly, with this trip to Eastern Europe, I’m going to where my favorite composers lived. I’m very happy to learn that there is a Chopin museum. The museum is meant to be modern and informative, so there are a lot of things to read, a lot of videos to watch. I only enjoy the part in the basement, where you could listen in some open spaces, or with headphones… to Chopin’s compositions. On the second floor, you can see the piano that Chopin used in his Paris apartment to compose

There is a very nice park 2km away where there is a huge statue of Chopin. But I preferred to devote my last day in Warsaw to the Vietnamese market

Vietnamese market

Just type Targowisko Bakalarska on Google Maps to find out how to get there

This market, composed mainly of Vietnamese merchants, is a market for individuals, where many products and services are available at low prices

Before, these merchants occupied – illegally – the stadium (where JB is going tonight for the Coldplay concert). Then, the city decided to give the stadium back its main function. The merchants then founded this market Targowisko Bakalarska, which sells to private individuals; and another one 9km away from the city, to sell to other merchants who come to buy from all over Europe

Here you can find cheap clothes for pedicures/manicures from 5€ to 12€. Few French people know this but the Vietnamese community is huge in former communist countries. At the time of the communist bloc, going to work and be a merchant in Poland, USSR, Czech Republic etc. was a quick way to get rich. I am particularly interested in this market because the Vietnamese population here isn’t the same as in France. Here, people come mostly from the North of Vietnam, many are freshly arrived from Vietnam, which promises an extraordinary cuisine vs. what we find in France (cuisine from the South, people who have not returned to Vietnam for a while)

And I was not mistaken! We eat too well! The “banh cuon” (Vietnamese ravioli) has the same taste as in Hanoi. The spring rolls have NOTHING to do with those in Paris

I will spend 1 hour enjoying the cheap manicure and pedicure at the Vietnamese women. They are happy to learn that we come from France and take the opportunity to ask us about the living conditions. They tell me that everyone dreams of going to France because the salaries are better. They come here to work non-stop and send money to the family. If the prices are so low, it’s because the salons don’t agree among themselves. Instead of setting a price that is acceptable and profitable enough for everyone, they play at competition: if one lowers the price, the others have to lower it too

Life here seems to them to be pleasant all the same. However, the Vietnamese are often robbed because they often have a lot of cash on them

They also tell me that Poles treat foreigners very well, don’t make racist jokes like I can often hear in France (my former colleagues often imitated the Asian accent – whereas I speak French without an accent). They also recommend Vietnamese restaurants that I should definitely try in Berlin and Prague (two Vietnamese gastronomic paradises apparently from all over Europe)

That’s it, it’s the end of the weekend in Warsaw. JB will go to the Coldplay concert while I take the train to Krakow. The train will unfortunately be 2 hours late, but instead of crowding everyone in the next train, the controllers force us to wait for ours, so everyone will have a place to sit

Part 2: Practical Tips

  • For the trip Krakow – Warsaw (and vice versa), prefer train to bus as the road isn’t very good.
  • To buy the train tickets, go to the PKP website
  • If you’re here for the weekend, buy the tram/bus ticket valid from Friday night to Monday morning instead to save money
  • In Poland, it is normal to leave a 10% tip in a restaurant
  • Everywhere in Poland, when you withdraw money, you should not accept the proposed exchange rate (which is 3.79 instead of 4.12). Choose “Decline conversion”
  • Then “Accept”: exchange rate will be determined later and isn’t guaranteed

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