The last leg of the European adventure is finally upon us! (Apart from the European section of Russia but let’s not be picky) 5 hours from Berlin, it was one of the longer train legs we had done but nothing compared to what lay ahead! A nice journey in a quiet carriage with a couple of other English, (who, of course, we bumped into later on) the hours passed by quickly.
The hostel was very nice indeed, and the perfect place to meet fellow travellers. We met a wide array of people, including an Egyptian man who was reeling off statistics about how Muslims will take over the planet by their sheer need to have huge families compared to everyone else… A medical student from USA who looked genuinely sad when we left and a sweet German chap who was the sole reason we won the pub quiz.
Warsaw itself was, as the title says, a very pleasant surprise! It was clean, easy to get around and cheap to eat. The old town, yet really small, was good and the newer area came up trumps when I needed to buy some walking shoes at a good price. Result!
The only downside was the weather… Rain, rain, and more rain. Waking up after our first night (which saw us find the most AMAZING vegan burger bar! It was literally so good and the tastiest burger yet to pass these lips!) we walked the 3.5 km to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, penned as the most important museum in Warsaw! The walk, of course, was in the pouring rain and was an absolute waste of ruddy time. When we arrived to the museum, it was closed. On a Tuesday! Lesson learned here: check online before braving the elements resulting in a stinking cold for days later. Alas, there was nothing we could do about this misfortune so we turned our soggy selves round and walked back. A quick change of clothes (pointless, as an hour or so later we were in another, even worse down pour) and we explored the old city.
Without realising it, we had walked for miles and stumbled to the point of the city where the edge of the ghetto was. Where the wall once stood, was marked by a small memorial on the ground. It felt particularly strange and exceptionally harrowing to be standing on the side of the ghetto wall where the Jews were kept. A feeling which is somewhat difficult to describe, it filled me even further with confusion and thoughts of how disgraceful the human race can be.
After spending some time with thoughts at the site of the ghetto wall we returned back to the hostel and enjoyed a free meal cooked by one of the hostel workers and a pub quiz, all about Poland… Which we won! Our new friend from Berlin just so happened to work in Germany promoting tourism in Poland so knew all the answers! The prize was Polish beer and some great company.
Leaving Warsaw after 2 days I was really glad to have paid a visit to the city, and would certainly recommend it! There is heaps of construction taking place at the moment, with metros seemingly being built left, right and center. Returning in a few years I imagine the city will be a completely different place and we are certainly keen to see it develop.
And that, brings the European stint to a close. With a handful of supplies we headed to the western train station and boarded the first of many overnight trains to Moscow, the start of the Trans Siberian!