Thursday, 12 November 2015

Warsaw: National Independence Day & POLIN Museum

It was our final day in Warsaw but the streets were empty outside our hotel. No buses. No trams. No cars. It was strange, so it was. We wanted to cover two museums (POLIN Museum and the Warsaw Uprising Museum) before our flight but when we went to the tram station, a kind lady told us that there was a marathon coming up very soon through the streets and that there was a high possibility it wasn’t arriving. So then, with the help of McDonald’s wifi, I found that another bus nearby would bring us to the POLIN Museum too. Guess what? That lane was also blocked out for some reason.

Then we started to see loads of people in the streets joyfully waving the Polish flag and some were chanting out loud in a celebratory tone. There was definitely a celebration of some sort as we saw more and more people doing it everywhere! Then we realised it was the 11th of November – the National Independence Day. That was the “aha” moment of the day.

Thankfully the underground transportation was not interrupted in any way so we boarded at Nowy Świat – Uniwersytet stop on the M2 (red) line, transferred later to the M1 (blue) line and got out at Ratusz Arsenal. We were then supposed to catch the 111 bus to the doorstep of POLIN Museum but for some reason, despite pressing the stop button in the bus, the bus driver just drove past our stops leaving several passengers very angry. So since we already passed it, we took another tram back in the direction we came from and walked another 10 minutes to the Museum. 

To summarise, we wanted to take a tram, it didn’t arrive. We walked to another tram station, it didn’t arrive either. We tried to catch a bus, there was a road block. We took another bus which required a transit but when we were at the transit, we realised there was another road block. So instead we took the underground metro and had to change lines once. We then took a bus which took us too far and had to take a tram back and then we had to walk. HAH today was just not a good day for transportation.

But thankfully, the POLIN Museum was open despite the celebrations! Also known as the Muzeum Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich (The Museum of Polish Jews) It had an amazing compound with different statues commemorating both those who had passed due to the tragic past, and those who tried their best to help save the Jews

It cost 25zl for adults and 15 for students but it was definitely worth it as the museum was extremely comprehensive and interactive at the same time. The museum was a maze in itself with different sections connected in various ways but it was very informative about the history of the Polish Jews. It ranged from how they arrived to how they were treated to their hybrid identity as both a Pole and a Jew. Of course it included details of the Holocaust and post-Holocaust.

Our tummies rumbled and so we stumbled upon a quaint little café which had its walls plastered with photos, Trip Advisor reviews and books of famous places within Warsaw and people who came from the land. The waitress was probably the most fluent English speaker I met on this trip and she was very helpful and bubbly too.

Our last meal in Warsaw obviously had to be Polish :D So we got some lovely beef goulash which was very tender and flavourful.

Got my favourite flaki again! It wasn’t as good as the flaki I had at Zapianek last night but it tasted good all the same. Very peppery and warm J

The salmon with spinach was absolutely nomnomnomalicious. It was so light and crispy and creamy at the same time. It didn’t give me the nauseous feeling which I normally get after eating something too greasy. So definitely well done!

And to end the meal we had some naleśniki z serem (scrumplicious crepe pancake which was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside filled with sweet cream cheese).  OH boy it was heavenly. Definitely something I’d love to make when I get back home J. It was a sweet ending to a sweet trip.

I thoroughly enjoyed my return to Poland and I would most definitely return to Poland again. Hopefully next time I’ll get to see my host families the next time or go to the Zakopane mountains and Wieliczka Salt Mines. 

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