A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Warsaw: Peacocks, Pierogies and the Pope September 25, 2011

Filed under: Contiki,Europe,Poland,Travel — Kelocity @ 5:45 pm
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I have to admit, Warsaw feels like a bit of a blur to me now. It was the last official city on our tour and I think my brain was reaching it’s capacity for absorbing historical information by that point.

Our day started out with a great tour by a local guide who pointed out some sights around the city and giving us some background information. Warsaw is the largest city in Poland, and one of the largest in Europe.  During WWII, Germany blew up 80% of the city and the population was forced to leave.
old_town_warsaw_waf-2012-1501-311945 [source]

Soon after, the Soviets came in and took over the city and aided in the rebuilding of the city… but under communist rule. They rebuilt the city so fast – and so well – that UNESCO added it to the World Heritage List.

The piles of rubble were sorted and original blue prints were used to rebuild the town exactly as it was, using lots of the original materials.

Warsaw is also the birthplace of Chopin and there are monuments to him throughout the city. Our tour brought us to this one on the edge of the city’s biggest park.

If you look at it from one side, it looks like a willow tree, but from the other side, it looks like fingers playing a piano.
The Germans blew it up in 1940, but the original mold survived the war and was used to recast it in 1958.

Around the city, they have these “Chopin Benches” that you can sit on. And there’s a button that will play you some of his music while you sit. Isn’t that fun?

We also saw the “white house” of Poland. Where the President lives. Just steps away from the Old Town.

One of the most significant events in Warsaw happened in 1944 when the Poles tried to revolt against the Nazi German army. It was called the Warsaw Uprising. They had hoped the approaching Soviet army would help back them up, but their army just stayed on the river banks and watched as they were badly defeated. As a result 200,000 Polish citizens died. After the Germans regained control, that’s when the orders came down to level the city to the ground.


This is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument. The people in the Warsaw ghetto knew what the Nazis had planned for them and in 1943, they rebelled marking the largest single revolt by Jews during the Holocaust.


The rest of the day in Warsaw was spent on our own, and we just decided to walk around aimlessly.




This is a statue of a young boy with a war helmet that doesn’t quite fit on his head. It is dedicated to all of the children that also fought in the Warsaw Uprising.




After a bit of walking, we were hungry for lunch and stopped at a bistro along the main street.

Beet soup with Dumplings.

And guess what else? Pierogies! (We are still in Poland remember!)


Yep. Just as delicious as we expected. (If it’s ok to eat Pasta everyday in Italy, it’s definitely ok to eat your weight in Pierogies when in Poland!)

After we ate, we were overwhelmed with historical information so we decided to take an afternoon stroll through the gardens and leave the sites behind us.

As we walked, we passed an art installation that was shaped to look like a palm tree. I mean, we have cell towers shaped like palm trees all over Los Angeles and they blend in somewhat… but a palm tree in Warsaw? It was designed to blend a bit of Israel into Poland.IMG_7811

Once we arrived into Lazienki Park and wandered around until we got lost, it was awesome. The shady trees also gave us a reprieve from the sun.

No tourists, no kiosks, just us, and a gorgeous park in Poland.


How adorable is this? A boy and his grandfather feeding the birds. Precious!

We had to watch out for those wild peacocks though! They were everywhere!



In the middle of the park is a picturesque summer palace. So pretty!


Then we realized if we wanted to catch the bus back (which we did!) we had to hustle back to the main square. With time ticking away, and us being totally lost in the woods, we barely made it in time. I felt like I was in amazing race sprinting through the streets to find Phil our tour guide.

Back on the bus, we saw a few more sights on the drive. This was a building built by the Russians and designed to look like a birthday cake for Stalin. Of course the Soviets invaded and took over their country, so it was a cruel reminder to the Poles of who was ruling them.
IMG_9374 IMG_9372

Check out this architecture too!  I think it was a shopping mall.

Since it was the last night of the tour, we changed and headed out to our farewell dinner. (Sad!)

Plate of veggies… get in my belly!


What a great tour, we enjoyed every minute of it. The history, the people, all of it!

Thanks to our tourguide, Joe, who did an amazing job keeping it all together and making sure we had the best trip possible. I’m sure it’s not an easy job. We had a great time.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be on the bus for 10 hours as we head back to Berlin.


Life on a Bus–Arriving into Warsaw

Filed under: Contiki,Europe,Poland,Travel — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
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After a quiet and difficult morning at Auschwitz, we began our drive north towards Warsaw.

We knew we’d have a long bus day ahead without an official stop for lunch so we stocked up on some food the night before. Be aware that Contiki often skips lunches in order to pack in more sightseeing. We had some crackers, water, chips and chocolate.

Along the way, we stopped briefly in Czestochowa to see the Black Madonna,  inside the Jasna Gora Monastery. There was an actual mass going on when we got there so the church was packed. I didn’t really see it, but Irving said he did. It looks like this, and apparently it’s pretty famous?

Then we kept on truckin’ bussin’ towards Warsaw.

In Europe (and I’m sure in the states) there are rules about how many hours the coach drivers can go at one time. There are mandatory rest breaks that we had to account for and the engine has to be turned off for a bit in between. Because of all of the construction on those small Polish roads, we got set back a bit and had to stop for dinner before we got into Warsaw. We pulled into a giant shopping mall with a food court and grabbed some food.

This is why I love Contiki. Everyone is in the same boat bus and you roll with the punches. We laughed about it and had a great meal with our new friends.

Not a bad salad for mall food! After having… um… CHIPS for lunch, veggies were welcomed!

Irving’s plate:

We weren’t far from our hotel at that point and checked in right when we arrived. It was the best hotel of the tour for sure! A Marriott! SCORE! We loved it and were happy to spend two nights there! We were impressed.

Warsaw was technically the last stop of the Contiki tour and many people flew out when we were done there… which was convenient for them since the hotel was literally across the street from the airport!  I was glad we weren’t leaving Europe just yet, but it was nice for those who were!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! We still have to explore Warsaw and then finish another 5 days in Germany and Austria before we have to go back to the states!

Stay tuned for Warsaw!


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