Today was another rainy overcast day here in Eastern Europe, I guess no surprise for this time of year. Let’s just hope by the time I’m trying to view the aurora borealis in northern Finland the skies will have cleared! This morning I packed my bags before heading out as I knew it would be tight trying to do later in the day..
A few blocks from my hotel I caught a city bus heading south. I was surprised that around 9am it was only half full. We arrived at the Wilanow Palace about 40 minutes later. Realizing I hurried to the bus without eating and seeing no other options around, I shamefully went to the McCafe for a cappuccino and bacon egg sandwich. Having discovered them on my first trip to Barcelona I knew they made a good cappuccino, despite the McDonald’s logo, surprising huh!
Around the bend and through some tiny curvy streets led to the palace entrance. It was 25 zl to tour the palace and gardens. For comparison my breakfast was 5 zl. Leading up to the palace was a beautiful gate and green meadow. The palace practically glowed in its yellow stucco beauty with ornate white trim. It was enormous and a site to see.
Inside I was surprised they let us take no-flash photos, let the pictures begin! They had opened just about every room for viewing. It was elegant and ornate and furnished to the period. Being someone who absolutely loves touring old mansions around the world, I have to say this was one of the best (not quite Versailles in France but…)..
The bottom floor had multiple living quarters, the queens room was my favorite, which was more royal than feminine, hardwood floors were throughout with high ceilings and large windows out to the gardens. The top floor was used primarily to showcase art and various artifacts. There were a few rooms and living quarters as well.
If that wasn’t enough to validate the trip, the grounds were meticulously manicured. Although I didn’t come in the best season for flowers, they still had quite a few colors blooming around. A large pond backed up to the property with a castle looking boathouse and some wooden boats ready for use.
I was surprised how many hours I spent at the palace which forced me to rejigger my itinerary for the day. I headed back to the hotel via bus grabbing a ground turkey and tomato quiche along the way from Costa Coffee – very good actually! Hurried to check out and store my bag so I could visit one more sight before the train!
Back on the same bus, heading south again, I was off to Lazienki park which came recommended from a friend. The park is expansive and used to be royal residences so there are large beautiful homes all over it. The most prominent straddles a long pond and has beautiful regal pillars. I didn’t have the time to tour it, though it would be hard to top the palace. Still worth the visit.
After walking the entire park and taking in as much as I could it was time to catch the bus back to the hotel. Then from there the 20 minute walk to the central train station. I swear my bag got heavier even though I know that’s not possible as I’ve only used up liquids and purchased nothing, not even a magnet.
Then it was time to catch the train to Gdansk. It was almost 3 hours and the 2nd class car was identical to my last one, though this time all the seats were full and I got stuck facing backward. Thank goodness for my chewable Dramamine! The landscape was gently sloping fields of green and brown interspersed with lines of trees appearing like property boundaries. It must have been harvest season because the green sections looked like little baby green sprouts just barely coming up. The occasional village would come into view with it’s walled off town and towering cathedral dominating the center. Very medieval looking.
The train pulled into Gdansk, also called Danzig (anyone remember Glenn – ha!), around 6:20pm. Although just about everyone grabbed a taxi or car, except me, who chose not to spend money on transport and carried my pack by foot into town, was around 20 minutes walk. Which wouldn’t have been too bad except it was dark, raining, and my pack weighs half as much as me. But alas. I’d much rather spend money on good food.
Thanks to United points, my hotel tonight is free, also the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in thus far – they actually have hair conditioner and a hair dryer – woo hoo! Plus a real restaurant, Wifi, etc. The Radisson Blue is located right in the main historic square, so could not have got a better location. The funny part, my single room is really that – a twin bed haha!! I feel a bit like a 10 year old all tucked in.
For dinner tonight I ended up at a rather touristy place – Goldwassar right on the water. My top 3 choices were all no-go’s, but for a 4th it was actually pretty good. I had the duck with polish potatoes, beet purée and cranberry sauce. Delicious. Finished off with their ‘famous’ pralines. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate but figured it was their house made signature so what the heck. Still don’t like chocolate. LOL. Midway through the meal a Twin Peaks-like song came on and I couldn’t help but be carried away to the vibe of Twin Peaks… though paired with Polish food in a Polish restaurant with Polish speaking surrounding me, it was a bit trippy.
The walk back to the hotel was only about 10 minutes, which after all the walking in Warsaw, felt like a piece of cake. Drained from the day, it’s time for bed!