I am not a dedicated fan of geology but once passing by the Museum of the Earth (Muzeum Ziemi) run by Polish Academy of Science I decided to visit it. First I saw a few large and smaller erratic blocks put along paved park alley. In a small white house I bought a ticket (4 zl = below 1 euro) and... It's a very interesting collection of rare rocks, minerals, gemstones etc. both from Poland and from all over the world. The information on displays is of great educational value for everyone who is lucky to understand Polish language.
For others... hmm, this language barrier is awful but... at least you may see Baltic amber rocks weighing over 3 kg (6 pounds) you will never find in any jewelry shops as well as those smaller ones with a 40 mln year old fly inside (available but very expensive in amber jewelry shops).
I liked most exposition displayed in a seperate room and run by the seperate institution Galeria GeoCentrum. I've seen nunerous minerals from all over the world including the most beautiful and colorful ones:
- mostly red and white agate from Poland
- green malachite from Congo
- red-pink fluorite from England (usually it's blue).
Add numerous precious gemstones like milky and rarer milky bluish opals from Australia, blue and white sapphire gems from Sri Lanka, and many others. I'd love to see some home countries of these pecious gemstones.
The Museum is located some 2 km south of the Royal Castle, some 600 m east of the Three Crosses Square (Pl. Trzech Krzyzy) in Rydz-Smigly Park, in Al. Na Skarpie (map here). It's open Mon - Fri 9 am - 4 pm and Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm. Look at the map here: the entrance and main exposition is at No 1, No 2 houses temporary exhibitions, often very interesting (read my text tip), No 3 marks erratic blocks, No 4 - some construction stones and stone sculptures.
Visit the WARSAW RAILWAY MUSEUM (Muzeum kolejnictwa w Warszawie). The former Main Railroad Station (Dworzec Warszawa Glowna) houses the indoor exhibition area. Many artifacts, old and newer, are displayed. Very interesting are the maps showing the integration of sections of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Railways into the National Polish Railroad System -PKP. The cream of the museum is in the outdoor display. There are dozens of locomotives (steam and diesel), passenger coaches, freight cars, trams and buses. Besides Polish there is equipment from other European countries, including Germany and France. Location: ul. Towarowa 1, one block west and one block north of the Central Railroad Station (Warszawa Centralna). Open: Tue.-Sun. 10.30 -15:30, (Fri. - free admission).
Poland is also known for its local beers. For sure you will be off the Beaten Path with the Polish beers... Unfortunately, I was only able to taste some of them, the most popular and commercial lager, I think:
***Lech 5.7 % alc. vol.
My sweet favourite. Light, pilsener type of beer brewed from crystal clear water and as many as four specially selected varieties of aroma hops, resulting in a unique blend of ingredients.
***Zywiec 5.8 % alc. vol.
My 2nd favourite. Similar to the Lech but a little more bitter. Pure 100% malt pilsner brewed with mountain spring water.
***Tyskie 5.5 % alc. vol.
Not as good as the both above. The taste seems too bitter and the beer has too much gas.
Be aware that alcohol excess is not good for you and your neighbours... so drink with moderation!
Santé, cheers, nasdarowije, skol, salute, zum Wohl!!!
From the bar in the 40th floor of Mariott hotel (directly beneath the Stalin Culturual palace building, metro Centrum), you have a great view over Warsaw towards the Cultural palace and the river (and you do not see the nasty new skyscraper - as you are sitting yourself in one, and in direction to the river no furthers). Also get surprisingly affordable and very high quality food there. E. g. very nice ice cream for 12 Zl or very nice tea with milk for 15 Zl. No entrance fee - but perhaps should be well clothed - otherwise you might feel displaced (as often in Poland ...).
I've seen palm trees in some pretty odd places but I didn't expect to see one on a traffic island on a busy street in Warsaw. Upon closer inspection it turns out not to be a live palm tree but rather an art project by Joanna Rajkowska called Greetings from Jerusalem, made of steel and covered in bark and polyethelene leaves.
Located at the intersection of Novy Swiat and Al. Jerozolimskie
The garden you shouldn't miss is the University Libary roofgarden. On the northside of the building there is an entrance to this big and amazing beautiful roofgarden which is free accessible. There you will have an amazing view at the cityroofs and riverside in the east.
You shouldn't miss this place.
Once a year, on the first weekend in May, the Frogs association holds an international amateur rugby tournament at the Skra Stadium (20 minutes walk from Centralns station). It hosts teams from the UK, Poland, Holland, and a few other countries. All proceeds go to charity, and the event is sponsored by Heineken. Drinks can be bought, and are generally consumed in great volume :-), as well as food, ranging from Irish and South African, to traditional Polish.
Its a great weekend out, with most round robin matches being held on the Saturday, and the Quarters/Semi's and finals being held on Sunday.
I have always loved dolls since I was a little girl. I still display some of my cherished collection around the house.
On one of my trips to Poland I found this lovely little lady in a shop just off the Old Town Square. She was made by a noted designer and I'd love to find more of their work some day. Here is an exerpt I found on the internet describing the maker.
"Made in Cracow according to the tradition of the nineteenth century European doll design... approximately 14 inches tall. [The] head, hands and shoes are hand-formed from cernit (heat hardened resin) and then hand painted. This technique truly imitates the wax originally used in the nineteen century by the European doll makers. The blotched waxy finish recreates the look of a doll true to that era. The body is cloth and all of the clothing is hand sewn using the finest fabrics from the remnants of theatrical and opera costumes, this explains why the dolls are created in very small and limited editions! There were only a few hundred of the different styles created that were imported into the US. .....This is from the Guy Luy and Hubert Doll Studio, the first and only existing doll Studio in Poland of a family of two stage designers and handcrafters. However, we are not even sure if the studio exists today."
If any of you reading this tip can direct me to their web site or studio on-line, I would love to be able to find these designers. I was given the address of their studio, but cannot write to them because I do not speak or write in Polish.
In between the old town's center and the area around the Trakt Krolewski, one can see a large building in a mixed baroque-neo-renaissance style. This is Warszawa's cityhall, where the main decisions are made for the Polish capitol.
Especially along the Trakt Krolewski one can see one palace after another, but also in the outer rings of Warszawa and outside the city, numerous palaces can be visited as well. Some are turned into museums or other public buildings, but all of them remind of a once glorious time in which Warszawa was the capitol of an empire with many royalty and nobility.
Whenever I do sightseeing in any city or town I try not to walk twice along the same streets. So, in Warsaw, when I saw the seat of Polish parliament (Sejm) I decided to walk back downtown through long green space of the park called Marshal's Edward Rydz-Smigly Park (Park Marszalka Edwarda Rydza-Smiglego). Ufff... what a name, follow the link below to see who was that guy :-). The park itself, established in 1951 - 1964 (under other name, Rysz-Smigly was banned that time), is not interesting at least as for plants and flowers. Its northern part is administered by the National Museum in Warsaw. It's closed for dogs and bicycles and looks neglected. Anyway, I've suprisingly found a few interesting stops on the way described in details in my next tips.
MY WALK IN BRIEF
I went eastwards Gornoslaska St. and turned left (northwards) to the park Map here and continue north. I strolled through the park up to the square viewpoint terrace east of ul. Na Skaroie (On the Rim Street) when I stopped for a beer and small meal in a pub I myself called Pub Na Skarpie (see my restaurants tip).
From the viewpoint terrace I saw the Monument to the Glory of Military Engineers and walked futher north Al. NA Skarpie when I visited the Museum of Earth and temporary exposinion in Pniewski's Villa. I contunued north up to the Museum of Polish Army.
This interesting building (Al. Na Skarpie 27, map here, marked 2) called Pniewski's Villa and covered by cut pieces of stones reminds me some beautiful large houses I once saw in Andorra and the Pyrenees (France, Spain). To be exact, its style is a bit different :-). Since 1966 the building belongs to the Museum of the Earth located on the opposite side of street. It houses temporary exhibitions showing mainly great photographs of our planet :-).
There is also a lecture hall where, among others, meetings and slides/pictures shows for fans of far travels take place. The schedule is on the museum webpage (in Polish) here (click on "zobacz wiecej" = see more). For example: Tibet, from Bombay to the roof of the world and Niger, tea on the Sahara. I'd love to see such staff next time! For those who can't speak Polish, the young travelers preparing those meetings can speak English, I guess. Why not to meet them in Warsaw?
The building itself (built 1779-81) belonged to prince Kazimierz Poniatowski and served as his Summer Palace, housed the Great Masonic Lodge of the East (fraternal organization) and then under Branickis ownershop - ornithological museum. In 1930' an architect Pniewski converted the little palace into his apartment and stodio and lived there until death in 1965.
Haha, strolling around Warsaw, I surprisingly found this funny car parked along off the beaten path street in 2004. Look for them. They are still alive. They are part of the history of the Soviet block countries and my life as well.
It's the first car of my father and first I ever personally drove (carefully watched by my father) in unused airfield in Krakow when I was, believe or not, 9 years old. Well, I drove it until I made U-turn a bit too fast, maybe a few minutes only. Hmm... my legs were so short that to reach pedals I had to sit on the front edge of the chair and crane my neck to be able to look through the windscreen above the control panel and... betow upper part of the steering wheel. It was a drive! :-)
This almost extinct brand of car called Trabant (or kiddy Trabi) was produced in former East Germany without any significant change from 1963 to 1991. It's smoky (I remember that smell :-) two-stroke engine gave the car top speed - 112 km/h (70 mph). The Trabant's body panels were made of Duroplast, a kind of plastic containing resin strengthened by wool or cotton. We called them cardboard cars or boxes. Once my father used special glue to repair a small hole after that another car slightly hit his lovely Trabi.
With the fall of communism Hungarians opened borders to the West (Austria) in late summer 1989 and some 10,000 East Germans mostly in Trabants invided the West thus the car became a bit known in Western Europe and soon later Trabis could cross falling Berlin War and spread out all over the West Berlin :-).
Powazki cemetery also contains graves of the many famous non-military Poles who have been burried along the "Avenue of the Meritorious" (Aleja Zasluzonych) since 1925. Graves of a few communist criminals burried there in 1945 - 1989 that was during Soviet occupation or influence were later transferred to less important places. Actually there are 3 Avenues of the Meritorious in the cemetery now. They are marked on the map by the entrance.
Jewish, Calvinist, Lutheran, Caucassian and Tatar cemeteries adjacent to the largest one Powazki. Add nearby Orthodox cemetery. At least half a day is needed to visit them all.
1. - 3. Grave of Jacek Kaczmarski for whom this page is dedicated.
4. -5. Grave of Wladyslaw Szpilman (1911 - 2000). Do you know the famous drama "The Pianist" (2002) by Polanski? The movie was awarded 3 Academy Awards in Hollywood in 2003 (Best Actor, Best Director and Best adapted screenplay), won top prize (Palme d`Or) at Cannes International Film Festival and seven Cesars in Paris (incl. best picture and director). The movie tells the story of Szpilman, a Polish Jewish musician struggling to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.
Enter the cemetery, its military section by Gate I (Brama I; ul. Powazkowska 43/45; parking for, say, 20 cars only; open April-September 7 am - 8 pm, then 8 am till dusk). The map displayed by the entrance is in Polish language. You have an ugly funeral house to the left. The first main street right is "Avenue of the Meritorious" (Aleja Zasluzonych) with the latest graves. Keep straight the main avenue and see first the military graves on both sides then next famous Poles.
Roman catholic Powazki Cemetery is the oldest (founded 1790) and the most beuatiful cemetery in Warsaw. It has a very large military section (Cmentarz Wojskowy). Powazki is a great place for a longer walk in green space full of trees and beautiful tombstones which were often created by some of the most renowned sculptors of the era, both Polish and foreign. Some of them are excellent examples of various styles in architecture and art.
1. Single graves of Polish soldiers who died in Polish - Soviet War 1919-1921.
2. Memorial to heroes of the January Uprising 1863 - 1864; it was unsuccesful anti-tzar uprising in the territory of occupied by Russia parts of what is now central and western Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and partly Ukraine.
3 - 4. Graves and memorial with the writing: "To memory of the Polish Eaglets (children) who died in defence of Warsaw during Bolshevik invasion in 1920, grateful compatriots". That is to the Polish victims of the Battle of Warsaw (sometimes referred to as the Miracle at the Vistula, Polish: Cud nad Wisla) was the decisive battle of the Polish-Soviet War, fought from 13 to 25 August 1920 and unexpectadly won by Polish troops. 15th August is celebrated as a anniversary of the battle and is a national holiday in Poland, now.
5. Writing fixed to a birchen cross: Late Jerzy Oleszczuk, cadet "Tomek", soldier of Szare Szeregi (the Grey Ranks) lived 15 years, died a hero on August, 12, 1944. He fought in Warsaw Uprising 1944.