Travelogue: Wonderful Warsaw. Warsaw, the city I always dreamt of visiting, to step back in time as the history unwinds through its museums and memorials. The city’s glorious past reflects in the well restored palaces and buildings.
Warsaw where the history unwinds, rebuilds and reinvents itself over time!
Warsaw, the city I always dreamt of visiting, to step back in time as the history unwinds through its museums and memorials. The city’s glorious past reflects in the well restored palaces and buildings. It pumps confidence and energy, and reconfirms faith in humanity. Warsaw is also known as the "Phoenix City" because it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Most notably, the city was painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed.
My memorable visit starts with the lovely hotel I check into, set in the centre of the city. The “Polonia Palace” is a unique hotel in central Warsaw: boasting a long history, that has survived war and political crises with dignity, and today stands as a symbol of the best of both old and new Warsaw. An easy walk from shopping districts and financial centres, it enjoys an enviable location as it stands directly opposite the Palace of Culture and Science, offering its guests, an unimpeded view of this landmark building.
It was the hotel-of-choice for ambassadors and diplomats, and it also housed a number of embassies in the past. One of the hotel's most well-known guests was General Eisenhower; he stayed here in 1945. Frequented by actors, singers, artists, writers and politicians, their restaurant was most definitely the place to 'see and be seen' after the World Wars: now, a wise choice for the astute traveller who wants luxury combined with the right location.
As I go around the old city, it feels like a visual feast. Warsaw’s palaces, churches and mansions display richness of colour and architectural details. Buildings are representatives of nearly every European architectural style and historical period, from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, all of which are located within easy walking distance of the town centre.
Although today's Warsaw is a fairly young city, it has many tourist attractions. Among the most notable landmarks of the Old Town are the Royal Castle, King Zygmunt's Column, Market Square, and the Barbican. Warsaw's Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites as "an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.”
Further south is the Royal Route, with many classicist palaces, the Presidential Palace and the University of Warsaw campus. Wilanów Palace, the former royal residence of King John III Sobieski, is notable for its Baroque architecture and parks. Among Warsaw's beautiful public parks, the Saxon Garden and the azienki Park are worth visiting.
Warsaw is an alpha– global city, a major international tourist destination and an important economic hub in East-Central Europe. Present day Warsaw is a very happening city that has several huge and modern shopping centres with hundreds of stores, many of which belong to world famous chains, as well as restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, multiplex movie theatres etc.
“Signature Restaurant” is a hidden gem on the gastronomic map of Warsaw, which lies right in the centre of town. Former soviet embassy was located here. The well-preserved Oswald chairs from 50's, Serge's lighting, original Milton Green's photos of Marilyn Monroe and "flaming bar', all make the concept of Signature.
I am much impressed by the fashion scene in Warsaw. “Goshico” is a young Polish brand founded by two sisters Malgo and Aga Kotlonek, with a collection of felt bags, embroidered with colourful motifs inspired by local folklore and themes from Greek and Persian mosaics.
I visit the showroom of “Lilou”, where you create your own jewellery and be proud of your creation. The concept is unique and every customer feels exclusive. It is designed for people who enjoy life, who play with trends and express themselves through fashion.
I feel highly privileged, meeting the Czarina of Polish fashion, Gosia Baczynska, who carved a niche for herself on the international fashion scene, creating ripples with her exhibits in Paris etc. Her designs are most sought after by the fashion gurus. She charms me with her style quotient, treating me to champagne and strawberries and anecdotes from her journey in fashion designing. Wonderstruck, I go through her classy creations in her elegant and elite showroom.
I enjoy learning to make Polish dumplings at “Warszawa Wschodnia”, a unique restaurant located in a reconstructed warehouse, with modern décor. The kitchen is in full view, part of the atmosphere and adds to the fun of the place. The charming owner Mateasz Gessler, divulges his concept of a show-kitchen and culinary workshops where guests participate in the cooking.
To me, the old and new Warsaw, both are equally endearing. Here, the past meets with the present, promising a bright future, built on courage, fortitude and resolution.