A Christmas weekend Warsaw

| December 19, 2012

Ines from Cox & Kings recently spent a weekend in Warsaw. With Christmas just around the corner, Christmas markets, mulled wine and hearty food were the order of the day.

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Travelling to Warsaw in December can be a bit tricky, as there is a limited amount of daylight in which to take in the sights.  However, as it was so close to Christmas, the city was fully decked in Christmas lighting and there were decorations lining the streets of the Old Town and Royal Route, creating a fun and festive atmosphere amidst the dark cobbled streets of a city steeped in history and culture.

The starting point of the trip was the Palace of Culture of Sciences in the centre of the city.  Being the tallest building in Warsaw it is the city’s most visible landmark, as well as the best vantage point from which to gain an overview of the surrounding area. From the terrace of the 30th floor one can see that Warsaw is a bustling, growing city with many high-rise buildings and modern commercial areas.  While these views provide a contrast to the Old Town, which is predominantly a reconstruction of pre-war Warsaw, one thing they do have in common is a testament to the resilience of Warsaw in the way that it has rebuilt itself and continues to do so after the extensive damage that it has suffered throughout it’s history.

The next stop was a visit to the Warsaw Rising Museum, which gave an extremely well-illustrated account of what life in Warsaw was like in 1944.  With exhibits that are full of photographs, written documents, audio and video displays, it is possible to spend hours there just perusing through all the material available.  The museum is not only a great source of information into this period of Warsaw’s history, but also serves as a memorial for the people that have given and lost their lives during the war.  While I thought the museum was extremely interesting, the experience left me feeling a bit sad at the thought of what the people had endured at the time.

In the evening we walked around the Old Town to the market square where the Christmas market was set up.  With it’s stalls full of traditional Polish products from wooden toys, furs, and ceramics to gingerbread, sausages, cheeses, candied fruits and mulled wine, the buzzy atmosphere of the market filled you with a genuine sense of Christmas cheer.

The limited daylight hours, as well as the cold, made mealtimes a welcome respite. Warsaw has a large variety of restaurants available, ranging from Italian to a recent rise in popularity of sushi. However, the traditional Polish food was what we were there to sample and among my favourites were Oscypek, a fried cheese made from sheep’s milk served with cranberry sauce. Zurek, a hearty sour soup made from sour-dough and boiled sausages and bacon was also delicious, and finally the Pierogi, which are dumplings either boiled or fried and stuffed with potato, sourkraut, ground meat, cheese or fruit.  In general, the food is quite heavy, but very flavourful and just the sort of food you need to keep any winter blues at bay.

As I only had a weekend to spend in Warsaw, the trip barely scratched the surface of all the things to see and do, I hope to be able to go back one day to continue from where I left off.

View Cox & Kings' short breaks to Warsaw.

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