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Warsaw, Poland highlights

October 29th, 2007

Warsaw Museums and Sites
So that gift from Uncle Joe is the best place for a panoramic view of Warsaw. The Palace of Culture & Science holds nearly a million artifacts of Polish history, heritage, and scientific works. I like museums, but the building itself is a draw. An estimated 40 million bricks went into its construction, with 3,288 rooms and a height of 231 meters (757 feet). The viewing platform is on the 30th floor, and cost just 20zl (about $6). Open 9am-8pm; Sat/Sun 9am-11:45pm. Place Defilad 1.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum used interactive displays, photographs, video footage and numerous displays to tell the story of Poland’s resistance movement against the Nazis, including its takeover of large parts of the capital as the Soviets knocked on the door in Aug. 1945. Open 8am-6pm; Sat/Sun 10am-6pm; closed Tuesday. Admission 4zl & 2zl. Ul. Przyokopowa 28.

The Polish National Museum has a nice display of contemporary Polish art, including works by Witkacy and Chwistek. Other works include traditional Flemish, Dutch, and Renaissance art. You’ll also see a bit of ancient pieces from Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Open 10am-4pm, Thurs 10am-6pm, closed Mon. Admission 12zl & 7zl. Saturday FREE! Al. Jerozolimskie 3.

warsaw poland_3The Royal Castle was reconstructed from a rubble pile between 1971 and 1984. The building is more palace than castle. The site of the castle was once used by Polish kings as early as the 14th century. Open 10am-6pm, Mon & Sun 11am-6pm. Tour admission, 18zl & 12zl. Sunday FREE! Pl. Zamkowy 4. Old Town.

I devote an entire page to Wilanów—the “Polish Versailles”—but must put in a second bid for your attention here. The palace on the picturesque grounds is both kingly and homey, plush and everyday. Once the summer residence of King Sobieski III, the castle and grounds were part of the Polish people’s playground since the late 19th century. The gardens, forest, and rowing lake are places to relax and enjoy for hours. Open 9am-4pm; Mon & Wed 9am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm; Sun 9.30am-7pm. Admission: Palace, 20zl & 10zl; Park & orangery 4.50zl & 2.50zl. Saturday FREE! Ul. Stanislawa Kostki-Potockeigo 10/16. Bus 60 from Sheraton Plaza.

Warsaw Restaurants
You’ll find none of my restaurant choices near the Old & New Town tourist areas. And you’ll be glad for that. These are special places worth the taxi fare.

Smaki Warszawy is a lunch restaurant and confectionary café. The pastries will knock you down, so sit while you eat. The restaurant is world class, where the throwback of all-male waiters serve such delicacies as sturgeon with marinated aubergine. Open 9am-1pm. Ul. B. Prusa 2 (Sheraton Plaza). Phone 022 621 82 68.

Polskie Smaki has traditional Polish cuisine at cheap prices, and the food is fabulous. You might need a companion to roll you out the front door if you’re not careful with these huge portions. The wild boar and the roasted pig’s knuckle are both excellent. The borsch is great, too. Open Noon-11pm. Ul. Galczynskiego 3. Phone 022 826 59 67.

Tandoor Palace has the best curry in the country. A bit pricey, but if you’re in the mood for Indian, this is the place for it in Warsaw. Open Noon-10:30pm. Ul. Marszalkowska 21. Phone 022 825 23 75.

warsaw poland_2Warsaw Nightlife
Warsaw by night is a lounge city, with a smattering of clubs. For cultural gigs, visit the opera or theater.

For a Middle Eastern treat, visit Sheesha Bar, where ottomans abound and hookah pipes stand at the ready. Open 4pm-3am. Ul. Sienkiewicza 3.

Dekada looks like an American diner. It’s also a milk bar. Open 5pm-3am; Sat 8pm-6am; closed Sun & Mon. Ul. Grojecka 19.

NoBo is the flashy Warsaw club where mostly 20-somethings go for …. whatever. Open Noon-2am; Sat & Sun 6pm-6am. Ul. Wilcza 58a.

The Cinnamon has futuristic décor and is popular with Warsaw well-heeled and blond hotties. Open 9am-2am; Fri & Sat 9am-6am. Pl. Pilsudskiego 1.

Warsaw Transportation
Warsawa Glówna railroad station is the terminus for international trains. The station empties onto Jerozolimskie Street, a busy boulevard that leads into the heart of Warsaw in just a few blocks. Street trams dominate the city’s public transportation system. Each stop has signs and maps that are pretty easy to figure out. Trams run close to the best parks, including Krasinskich Park and Saski Gardens, both just west of Old Town Square. English is widely spoken in Poland, particularly in the cities, and so you need only ask someone the correct tram for a destination, or the onboard conductor. Buy your tram tickets at tobacco or news agent shops.

Warsaw’s underground metro system consists of a north-south route, with frequent stops along Niepodleglosci Street and Marzalkowska Street (the city’s main shopping avenue). Ratusz metro stop, on its north leg, is just a few blocks west of Stare and Nowe Miastro—Old and New Town.

Warsaw International Airport (Fryderyka Chopina Airport) is on the far southwest side of the city. Car rental agencies and airport transfer services to the downtown area are plentiful. LOT Airlines, Poland’s state airline, has international routes throughout Europe and North America.

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