The first chemical element that Marie Skłodowska Curie discovered and isolated in 1898 was named polonium after her native country. The first woman to win a Noble Prize and the first person to win 2 Noble Prizes used to say that “a scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales”.
On the first day of spring of 1810 a prodigy child was born. His name was Frédéric François Chopin and he left the world with an impressive heritage of over 230 works all involving the piano. A romantic he used to say “Even in winter it shall be green in my heart”.
Tamara de Lempicka was an Art Deco painter and the first woman artist to be a glamour star. She was part of the bohemian life of the Roaring Twenties and friends with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and André Gide and said “I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe”. Her self-portrait in a Green Bugatti is truly charming.
What do all these people have in common you ask? Well they were all born in different times in the same city…Warsaw. And as you listen to this Spring Waltz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmzFDEu2RoA imagine being a child and running around the streets of old times Warsaw. Choose your character, it may be a scientist, a pianist, a painter or it may be just any other child on the street. Once the wandering mood is on read away and let us take care of the rest.
Old City and Novy Swiat
The Old City of Warsaw dates back over 700 years. But its history hasn’t been smooth. Razed through the ground in the World War II, the Old City has been reconstructed from scratch as was the Royal Castle. The Old City is vibrant, with small streets and all sorts of squares, painted walls and restaurants. We visited before Christmas so the Christmas trees and the Christmas markets added even more glamour to the area.
The Old Town Market square founded in the 13th century was the venue of celebrations and fairs but also executions. Nowadays is surrounded by Gothic and baroque buildings, packed with souvenir shops and restaurants (one of them even exhibiting a Michelin star) and is home of the Warsaw Mermaid.
Legend says, she became so enchanted with the landscape that she decided to settle here. Local fishermen thought that their fishing nets have been destroyed by some predator. And so, they decided to get rid of the beast but they heard the beautiful voice of the signing Mermaid and fell over heels in love with the creature. One day, a wealthy merchant caught the mermaid but the sons of the fishermen hearing her cries managed to free her. In gratitude, the Mermaid promised the city’s residents to protect them in times of need. And so it stands here, in the Old Town Square, with her sword and shield to guard the city and its people ever since.
Novy Swiat Street is packed with coffee places, restaurants and shops for all tastes. If you are in for some student vibe don’t miss entering the University Campus and if you are into some music watch out for the multimedia benches which will play a little bit of Chopin.
The Royal Castle was a royal residence starting from the 14th century blown up by the Germans in the 1944 and opened again to the public in 1984 it is today a museum and a place for holding state ceremonies.
Our favorite room was the King’s Bedchamber decorated with yew paneling and a turquoise colored royal bed.
Near Ochota there’s a railway related museum which presents the history of railway in the world and Poland in the inside exhibition
and in the open-air museum in includes a collection of rail vehicles in Poland from different periods of the railway history including the Bierut’s Lounge Car, renovated baggage and postal car wagon electrical and steam locomotives. For more information visit http://www.stacjamuzeum.pl/en.
Palace of Culture and Science
Somehow similar to the Romanian House of the Free Press the Palace of Culture and Science is an example of socialist-realist architecture which can be seen from every part of the city. The Palace is home to a cinema, 2 orchestras, 2 museums, 2 public libraries and the Warsaw Tourist Information Point.
You can go up to the rooftop with an elevator for a view from above of Warsaw. Rumor has it that next door Marriott Hotel has a Panorama Bar where you can get for the same money a better view plus a beer.
Holy Cross Church
Near the Old City and on your way to Novy Swiat you come across the Church of the Holy Cross which in addition to beeing a spacious and impressive Baroque style church it also contains the urn of Chopin’s heart brought from France by his sister and immured in the left pillar of the main nave of the church.
Where we ate
Warsaw has plenty of options for food and coffee lovers. Our favorite restaurant was Podwale 25 Piwna Kompania and our favorite coffee place was Café Nero.
For more ideas on where to eat and chill click here.
Where we stayed
We stayed in Apartament Uniwersytecki at Krakowskie Przedmieście 20-22 m16, Sródmiescie. The location of the apartment is right next to the University 10 minutes walking from the Old City on one side and 10 minutes walking to the Central Station on the other side and the kitchen makes it so easy to have breakfast or dinner at home. There is a metro station a couple of minutes away and Nowy Świat is right there as is also a Carrefour Express 1 minute away from the apartment .