Leaving the homestay in Lithuania, we had a very long day of train travel ahead of us. Something along the line of 13 hours over 3 separate trips. I think patience will be a virtue for this day. However, 13 hours should be a breeze compared to the Trans-Siberian in Russia I completed in 2009.
Train one lasted for about 2 hours and spent the time chatting to Stefan about the trip, Berlin and just random stuff. Arriving back in Vilnius, Lithuania we took the opportunity to change our remaining currency into Polish Zloty. Other than that we just sat around the train station waiting.
The next train was to the Lithuanian/Polish border and as the gauge is different we had to jump onto another one. This trip was about 3 hours in length and as the seats were taken by locals we could not sit together as a group so I found myself sitting next to a Ukrainian born, Russian, Polish & English speaking girl who teaches English in Poland. We found ourselves chatting about all sorts of random stuff and that time went quick. It was good to kill the time but I was enjoying the conversation so it was also sad to separate.
The last train trip was about 6 hours in length. I just used this time write some notes about the trip, stare out the window, take random photos of train stations and read some of my book before we arrived in Warsaw after 8pm. Once there, we just checked into the hotel and I pretty much went to bed. Boring I know, but I was stuffed at the end of a long day.
Waking up, I knew we only had a full day here in Warsaw so had to make the most of it plus it also gave me the challenge of collecting all the Polish coins for my currency collection. Yes, I am one of those people that collects currency from each country I spend at least one night in.
Stefan gave us a quick orientation around the city and old town and explained how the city was rebuilt after the second world war. He also went on to explain the Warsaw Rising or Uprising depending on your mood.
As one of the tour inclusions we went to the Warsaw Rising Museum which was quite confronting but to be honest, I couldn’t appreciate it fully due to the number of people there at the time. Every time I started to read something some inconsiderate prick would just stand in my way. At this stage I was just feeling so invisible and getting more and more annoyed. At least with the movies I could get an unobstructed view. Only spent just over an hour there which probably was not enough but if it was less crowded, or I had more patience, I could have spent much more time there.
From there I headed back to the Old Town and strolled along the Royal Way seeing various catholic cathedrals. Each cathedral was different in its own way and each very beautiful. One of the more beautiful cathedrals was St Anna’s Church, where Pope John Paul II conducted his services prior to moving to the Vatican. You could only imagine the out pouring of grief and emotions when he passed away.
Also explored down around the town walls and ventured into the Marie Curie Museum which was located in the house she grew up in. Basically had a lot of photos and bits of pieces of memorabilia. The old market square was cool to hang around as there were artists selling sketches and the general atmosphere was fantastic.
Finally I went up a tower where one could overlook the main square and the Royal Castle just as the sun was starting to set before settling down in the courtyard on the Tin Roof Palace for a relaxing beer before dinner when I could just soak up the atmosphere of the city.
For dinner tonight I had a traditional Polish dish of Bigos which is a hashed sausage stewed in sauerkraut with potatoes. It might not have looked attractive but it tasted so very good. After a couple of drinks and dessert we headed back to the hotel for sleep as we have an early start of 5:45am to catch the train to Berlin.