The beach near Monastery of Saint Nahum, North Macedonia.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania .

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Gjyrokaster, Albania on October 6th.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

First day in Warsaw... lots to see!

I've always wanted to go to Poland. Mostly because not many other travelers from North America come here, when compared to the more popular countries of Europe. When North Americans think of Europe, they mostly think of Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Poland isn't nearly as popular for whatever reason.

Right now, we are only interested in Warsaw. We haven't done any research as to what to see in the rest of the country, and it's a pretty big country. All of that will have to wait until we get into our motorhome. Poland will be on the agenda at some point over the next couple of years. For this visit, Warsaw is our only interest.

The city of Warsaw was 85% demolished by the Nazis during World War II, with most of it happening towards the end of the war. 185,000 Warsaw civilians were killed in mass executions.

Warsaw in 1945.

But between 1950 and 1970, Warsaw was rebuilt. They meticulously reconstructed everything, based on pictures, drawings, and photographs. It's almost hard to believe, because wandering around Old town, you would think that those buildings are the originals that have been there for hundreds of years. 

We set off from the apartment just after 10am. They were calling for afternoon rain so we wanted to get a bit of an early start. And we brought our raincoats. We didn't really have a plan, other than to head for the river, and then towards downtown.

Warsaw has wide streets and sidewalks.

Admittedly, yesterday was Saturday but so far we have not seen any indication of traffic problems. Another thing we noticed is that people do not jaywalk. If the sign says don't walk, most people do not cross even if there is not a vehicle to be seen. Also, if you are about to cross a street at a pedestrian crosswalk, cars stop for you. Pedestrians definitely seem to have the right of way here. Totally unlike Tirana where it was essentially every man for himself. Warsaw seems very organized.

The POLIN Museum of History of Polish Jews.

Might be good for a rain day visit.
It won European museum of the year in 2016.

Kevin with Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic who tried to help the Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation.

I mentioned yesterday that Warsaw has a lot of park space and greenery. We came across one big park and heard some orchestra music being played so we went and watched for a few minutes. They were just young people, maybe between grades 6 and 9. They were pretty good though, better that I expected!

Youth orchestra playing in the park.

I took a video for you... turn up your volume...

Youth orchestra.

The backside of Krasinski Palace.

Statue in the duck pond.

Some kind of photo shoot.

I think I captured the moment pretty well!

Krisinski Palace is now a library.

This is what it looked like at the end of WWII.

Streetside view of Krisinski Palace.

The Court of Appeal building.

Interesting building.

Warsaw Uprising Monument.

Field Cathedral of the Polish Army.

The start of Old town.

Old town is mostly closed to vehicle traffic.

It's a fairly large area, and there is lots to see.

Hard to believe this is the same area in the very first picture above.

Beautiful facade.

All of these building were meticulously rebuilt between 1950 and 1970.

The Soviet Union helped finance the rebuilding.

Gateway of the defence walls of Old town.

Sigismund's Column in Castle Square.

Sitting on the window ledge with his mask on.

Speaking of masks, here in Poland most people do not wear a mask outdoors, however you do see the occasional one. Indoors however, masks are still mandatory and everyone seems to abide by that. 

Otherwise, it is pretty much business as usual here. They had a lot of restrictions up until about the beginning of May, but they have been gradually eased. Even movie theaters are open, but at reduced capacity. Night Clubs ad discos are still closed, but they are scheduled to open June 25th with reduced capacity. But as far as day to day life, things are pretty normal.

We couldn't get very close to it, but it looked like it was made with saran wrap!

Monument of Jozef Poniatowski.

The presidential Palace.

The Hotel Bristol.

The Hotel Bristol was built in 1899. It miraculously survived the war relatively unscathed, standing nearly alone among the rubble of its neighborhood.

These muscular guys have a lot of weight on their shoulders!

Warsaw Theater in the foreground, with the Palace of Culture and Science.

The Palace of Culture and Science.
Built between 1952 and 1955, it was a gift to the Polish people from the Soviet Union.

That's an impressive building!
However, it is controversial because it is a constant reminder to some of the Soviet influence over Poland. There have been repeated calls to have it demolished.

There are quite a few modern buildings as well, with several more under construction.

We stopped in at an Orange cellular store to buy a Polish SIM card for the phone. Polish cellular access is VERY cheap. It turns out there are four different major providers and they all have about the same market share, so they are always discounting to gain new customers. 

We don't need a package that includes calling, so we bought a SIM card starter pack that includes 6GB of data that's valid for 14 days. 

It cost 5 Zlotys ($1.63 CAD, $1.35 USD). No, I did not make an error. Yes, that was the price. There are other packages available with calling and more data. For example, I can upgrade our package at anytime within the 14 days to include unlimited calling and text messages, with 15GB of data for 15 Zlotys ($4.90 CAD, $4.00 USD) valid for 31 days. 

On the way home, we detoured to a big Lidl grocery store and stocked up on a few things. It always takes a while to navigate our way through a grocery store in a new country. And of course everything is in Polish, and we only just learned how to say "thank you", so that is the extent of our knowledge of the Polish language! Groceries in general seem to be about the same price as what they were in Albania. Beer is cheap, but I have tried two different brands so far and wasn't thrilled with either of them. Wine is more expensive than we thought it would be. Vodka drinkers would get on fine here though!

There was a steady rain walking home from the grocery store, so it was a good thing we had brought our rain coats. 

We were gone five and a half hours and walked 14.5 kms (9 miles)!

Mostly overcast today as well, with a chance of showers. Supposed to be nice for the rest of our stay though. Temperature today 22C (72F), so quite comfortable.

Nice price drop on this 170 Piece Tool Kit. Great kit to keep in the RV!

And in Canada...


  1. In Budapest I started to take a photo inside a grocery store and was admonished. Still no idea why.

    1. Weird, we would like you and wonder why!

  2. I'm fascinated by the idea of rebuilding an entire city while resisting the urge to "improve." Maybe they did bring utilities, insulation, plumbing and the like to modern standards?

    1. You would have to think that they would put in more modern utilities when they were building the new buildings but keeping the original design the same or as close to the same as much as possible.

    2. The beautifull city if Dresden in Germany was also destroyed by the allies in retaliation un the last Days off the war and was rebuilt with the original stones.

    3. Yes, this is true and I had mentioned that to Kevin and a couple of other people, It wasn't just the Nazi's that bombed out cities and Dresden is the one that came to mind that was destroyed in Germany. We haven't been there yet but hope to go. I believe that they left one church in it's bombed out state as a reminder of the bombings during the war. War really is a miserable thing!

  3. Covid numbers in Warsaw are particularly low. I am surprised more aren't wearing masks.

    1. Why would you need to wear a mask outdoors?

    2. I know you are busy travelling so you may not have come across studies of aerosols and how they spread airbourne disease?
      Worth a look if you haven't seen how they operate in particular as you are not vaccinated and from your photos not many are wearing masks outdoors.

    3. Traveling doesn't stop us from being informed. Even the "experts" disagree on these things, but the vast majority say the risk of infection is extremely low while outdoors.

    4. Kevin, I believe the point is; either of you have been vaccinated!

      So, your risk is much higher than those who have chose to be vaccinated.

      It doesn’t matter what the experts and vast majority say about masks!!!

      What is important; the experts and vast majority agree that people should be vaccinated!!

    5. Except that we weren't discussing vaccination. We were discussing the need to wear masks outdoors. And we believe that as healthy people with healthy immune systems, our risk is quite low to begin with.

    6. I propbably didn't put it very well but my post above does make the connection between not being vaccinated and lack of mask wearing.
      I'm not trying to put you under pressure or convince you to get vaccinated, I do think that both the Big Deuce and I are trying to offer you an alternative view that may help you.
      BTW, the two BBC videos I saw on how aerosols work indoors and outside scared the s..t out of me, and yes we are still travelling.

    7. Thanks for thinking of us. But we're fine, thanks.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I am definitely putting Poland on my bucket list!

    1. We are glad you enjoyed the post. I am sure we will have more posts to encourage you even more to visit. :-)

  5. Now that was a fantastic look at Warsaw with just enough history (not my interest in school😉) to put things in perspective. The recreation of the old city is impressive. Those cell package prices make Mexico look expensive and Canada's criminal!

    1. Thank you Kathy! We try to keep the posts as interesting as possible without going overboard on the history and boring people to much. lol.

      Canada is one of the most expensive countries in the world for cellular internet and we agree, it's criminal!

  6. I too have been wanting to visit Poland for a long time! The lovely pictures of your stroll downtown reveals a beautiful city : Warsaw reminds me of typical Western Europe countries, like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, whereas Albania was more similar to Romania and other Eastern Europe countries. Each of your posts contains so much information and beautiful pictures : thanks for taking us along your trip! And enjoy Poland!

    1. And we have only showed you a very small section of Warsaw. I really don't know how we will manage to see it all in one week! Yes, it definitely reminds us more of the typical western European countries, as least of the pictures we have seen of them because we really haven't visited many of the western European countries yet.

      We are happy to hear that you enjoyed our post, we have more of them coming your way. :-)

  7. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for the time you put into these great blogs, very informative and a nice read. I love following you and Ruth on your adventures.

    1. Thank you very much for following along on our adventures and we are glad that you find our posts helpful and informative, Kevin really does work hard on our posts. :-)

  8. Hello you 2,
    My Dad was 1 half Polish, and half Norwegian! My first girlfriend was Polish, and she is beautiful! You 2 take care, Rawn Stone

    1. Sounds like you need to plan a visit to both Poland and Norway to check your your family history. :-)

  9. They did a beautiful job of rebuilding, thank you for sharing. I haven't been to Warsaw but did go to Krakow (not demolished during the war) and the Polish people are so nice. And the prices were incredibly affordable (that was about 4 years ago though). Enjoy your travel!!

    1. They did to an amazing job of rebuilding. I think we are going to head to the right side of the river today, it wasn't destroyed and still contains buildings that were built in the 1800's. Again, there is just too much to see in the short time that we will be here.

      And yes, the prices seem affordable, maybe not quite as inexpensive as Albania, especially when it comes to tourist activities such as museums, they definitely cost more here, although they do have some free days for some of them, and hopefully we will catch a couple of them on the those days. ;-)


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