Intital impressions of Warsaw are a little surprising, it is certainly more modern than had been anticipated. This is the hotel the group is staying in and is one of several large hotel chains servicing the need for high quality accommodation in the city. In terms of the retail shopping and the dining needs of visitor and local alike most of the usual suspects are present. Large department stores such as Marks and Spencers, TKMaxx. Saturne or H&M cater for those in need of a little retail therapy while McDonalds, Starbucks and Costa Coffee provide a totally different form of therapy.
The city was rebuilt after being reduced to rubble by the Germans in World War II and reinvented after the fall of communism in Europe. The Palace of Culture and Science is a remnant of the communist era and dominates the skyline from almost anywhere within the city centre. Other atttractions include the Museum of the Warsaw Rising which is considered the city’s most important museum, providing a detailed and compelling insight into the struggle against the German occupation.
The residents barely seem to notice any of this however going about their daily business at an almost frantic pace. A striking feature is that almost everybody appears to be late for an important date, rushing around like the proverbial white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
Thankfully the pace slows down within the confines of the ‘old town‘, itself a paradox as it is in fact less than fifty years old. It has been restored to its previous design brick by brick. Attention to detail is meticulous and the accuracy of the reconstruction is probably the main reason for it being granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Many of Warsaw’s most beautiful buildings are located here however and this is a place to linger, when the weather has perhaps warmed up a little!