Tag Archives: Poland

Poland Day 6: Birkenau

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Poland Day 4: Driving Down to Lublin

I still have not adjusted to the time change. Despite walking all day yesterday and being exhausted, couldn’t fall asleep until sometime after 2. Oh well, that will get better.

Time to say goodbye to Warsaw, we enjoyed it so. Maybe one day we’ll pretend like we have money and take a cab. That day has yet to arrive. After breakfast, we walked 1.5km with our luggage to the Europcar office. Not too much of a problem, except for the intersections where you need to cross underneath the streets in Warsaw. Helps separate pedestrians from cars, it’s really a great idea. Except with luggage.

We got to the Radisson Blu where the rental car office was. A couple of signatures and we were shown to the garage where our Opel was waiting. 5 speed, big enough to hold our luggage, that’s all I wanted. And we were off, using Waze as our guide. Seriously, anyone who has a smartphone but doesn’t use Waze, WHY???

It was a little over a 2 hour drive. Interesting drive, we took 17 most of the way. Mostly a 2 lane road, but with this 1/2 lane to the right, that you would use to move over if someone wanted to pass you. Odd at first, but we got used to it. Speed limit was generally just 70-90kph, which isn’t very fast. Occasionally we could go 120kph, but not often enough.

We got to Lublin just a little after 1pm. Our hotel is just beautiful.


We dropped our stuff in the room, and then took off. Lublin is a town of about 350,000 people, with a nice old town, castle and parks. We walked straight into town, toured the castle, walked the streets and enjoyed ourselves.

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We made it back to the room for a very short time before heading out to dinner. We had picked one restaurant via TripAdvisor, but it was almost across the street from the hotel and not all that interesting, so we went to our 2nd choice, just inside the old city. We sat outside on the square, and had the best meal at Czarcia Lapa. Ellen had chicken, I had bream, we shared a bottle of wine and a chocolate cake dessert.

An easier day, able to enjoy Lublin for the day and look forward to Krakow tomorrow. While not home for the 4th, we can’t look around and not realize how much the Poles are enjoying their freedom from Communist rule.



Poland Day 2: Warsaw, Old City and New City

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We let Rick Steves be our guide today, and walked 12.5 miles according to Ellen’s FitBit. Here’s how the day went.

Our hotel includes breakfast, so we ate a good meal to start the day. We walked from our hotel to Nowy Świat, a wide boulevard of shops and restaurants. We first came to the Tomb of the Unknown.



It led us up to the Polish Academy of Science and a statue of Copernicus.



One of the most amazing sites was a sculpture in the Church of the Holy Cross. Besides having Chopin’s heart (what is it with Europe and body parts?), there was an amazing statue of Pope Saint John Paul II, where he is emerging from the stone. Really something to see.



We wandered onto the campus of Warsaw University, where Ellen was thrilled that I made a friend.



We took a tour of the Royal Castle, which is featured at the top of this post. Like 99% of Warsaw, it was destroyed in World War II, so we were looking at a reconstruction. Much of the old city struck us as looking like a Disneyland street, it had that feel of being “new old,” and looked a little too neat and orderly. Such is the price of having your city destroyed by the Germans and “saved” by the USSR.

We had lunch on the old town square, pizza and pasta. We continued into the new town, which means it was outside the original city walls, but established in the 15th century. These are the times you realize we have almost no history in the USA.DSC_0071


Madame Curie was from Poland, and we happened by her museum. Loved the exterior.



We made it back to the hotel around 6pm, allowing ourselves to rest our feet for an hour before heading out to dinner. The first restaurant we chose from TripAdvisor wasn’t there, so we went back along our walking route from this morning. We searched TripAdvisor again and selected Specjaly Regionalne. We shared duck pierogies as an appetizer, Ellen had roasted duck and I had beef goulash. Our waiter had lived in the US (Fort Myers, FL) for 7 years and enjoyed talking to us about the States.

Some more wandering and then home for the night. Tomorrow, the Jewish ghetto. Ellen’s grandmother was from Warsaw, one of 12 children and the only member of  her 50 person extended family to escape before the Holocaust.

Poland Day 1: Shaky Start, Fine Travel Day Finish

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With a solid month of preparing our house for sale, this vacation came at a time when we needed a break. I’ve had moments of brain overload, trying to balance work, buying a house, selling a house and a wedding in less than 2 months.

That overload manifested itself 10 minutes after leaving the house, when on the Beltway just before River Road, I realized I had left my wallet in my work pants. Not too far to get back, but it cost us 25 minutes. We then had to drop Colby off at Seneca Hill in Great Falls and ran into rush hour traffic on Georgetown Pike. After Colby was all set, back into traffic to get to the airport. Ellen was stressed from the delays, so I dropped her off at Dulles and then parked the car and got to the airport myself. Boarding passes, security, transport to the gate, all went smoothly, and we were able to relax in the lounge for awhile before it was time to board.

Having used miles for this trip, we flew to London in business class on British Airways. It was our first time in the lie flat seating, and we it was so worth it!! We both skipped dinner and just slept. We arrived at Heathrow around 9am, and had 5 hours to wait. There wasn’t much to do except use the limited free wifi, read our Kindles and wait. 2pm was our flight to Warsaw, and we both slept again.

Arriving in Warsaw, the trip finally was starting for real. Immigration and luggage were easy. We found an ATM to get Polish currency. And for those looking forward to a long drawn out story on securing SIM cards, you’ll be sadly disappointed. We went into a Relay convenience store at the airport, bought 2 Plus cards for $5 each, and they worked without a hitch, giving us each 1gb for such a low price!

Next challenge was figuring out how to get bus tickets for the 175 bus into town. We had money, but found a ticket machine that couldn’t issue paper tickets. The bus came, but the driver communicated that we needed coins. Back to the airport, found another ticket machine, but a woman told me the credit card reader wasn’t working. Found third ticket machine, got the info in English, but didn’t know what zone we needed. A taxi dispatcher nearby helped me, and for $3 for 2 tickets, we were set. The bus took us right into town, about a block from our hotel.

In Warsaw, we are staying at the Polonia Palace Hotel. It’s quite nice and in a great location.

Dropped our luggage, pulled up TripAdvisor (Yelp reviews were all in Polish), and picked a restaurant nearby. Used the great Tripadvisor feature again that points you in your direction with a compass and the distance to your destination. It is great! We ate at the Restauracja Zaścianek. It was advertised as a small restaurant where mom cooks the food fresh for you, and that’s exactly what it was! We each had perogies for appetizers.

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Ellen had a pork cutlet, I had chicken for dinner. It was a really good meal, home cooking for less than $40. If you have a chance, eat here!

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After dinner, we wandered over to a mall next to the train station, just to people watch and get a sense of the neighborhood. we went into a grocery store, one of Ellen’s favorite things in a foreign country. We went back to the hotel, and watched the first half of the US-Belgium World Cup match at the bar. Came up to the room to watch the rest and figure out what to do tomorrow.