Just a quick post of some street art in the Praga District. It’s definitely interesting to find such huge murals in the older section of the city, one that has many original buildings. But, I guess this area is also the “alternative” area, the “dangerous” area where tourists shouldn’t venture alone. I don’t really know how true this is (especially during the daytime), but I guess this is where you’d find this type of art. It was a nice surprise.
As I look around Warsaw, it’s difficult for me to imagine that Nazi Germany bombed this city to the ground in World War II. Warsaw is alive and bustling, the capital of Poland and the most prosperous city in the country.
Of course, almost all the buildings are from the post-WWII era during which the country was ruled by a Soviet administration. Some of the buildings, like the Palace of Culture and Science, show the Communist authority in its Eastern Bloc design.
The city is split north-south by the Vistula River, which travels through several countries before opening into the Baltic Sea. Today, when you cross the river from Warsaw’s Old Town to the Praga district, you can find pre-WWII buildings complete with bullet holes and all. This area of the city remained mostly untouched by air raids during the war and the destruction campaign that was ordered as Germany withdrew its hold on the city.
In Warsaw, I finally felt like I was in a European city. That’s not to say that the other countries I visited aren’t European, but somehow Warsaw just fit my idea of “Europe” a bit better. I look forward to getting to know its history more intimately through walking tours and am anticipating my visit to Auschwitz in a few days.
The next stop on this haphazard Eurotrip is Warsaw via my first overnight bus in Europe. I was eager to see what the conditions were like as the buses have been pretty amazing so far.
I’ve used a few different companies to get from point A to B over the past few weeks, and they all offer similar services for decent prices. They’re definitely cheaper than catching the train – with or without the expensive Eurail passes.
The buses are comfortable and usually not fully booked. Ingeniously, the aisle seats actually separate from the window seats and slide toward the aisle to create a bit more space between passengers. This is helpful as I found the seats were average in size but the occupants were larger (much taller and carrying more bulk than in southeast Asia). Many of the buses have wifi aboard, but so far this has been spotty for me. Still, the buses are new-ish and cleaner than their Asian counterparts by a long shot.
My bus departed from Vilnius at about 10:30 p.m. I’ve been warned about the sketchy nature of bus stations in general by European friends, but I haven’t had any problems so far (except for an interesting interaction with a drunk Estonian). Also, the sun doesn’t set till near 11 p.m. in these parts, so I wouldn’t have to wait in the dark.
Unfortunately, this overnight bus was pretty full and I wasn’t able to snag a lone seat. This made for an uncomfortable night as I couldn’t truly fall asleep with a stranger sitting next to me. I was still in my southeast Asian mindset and was very careful about having my backpack in my lap or resting my legs on it so it couldn’t be stolen. I didn’t expect any problems during this trip, but when you don’t acknowledge the possibility, that’s when opportunists strike.
The seven-hour bus ride from Vilnius to Warsaw was uneventful. We called on a few stations, but since it was night outside there wasn’t much to see. It would’ve been great to travel this route during the day and see out the window. In this respect, I’m very much still a kid who likes to watch the scenery go by.
Early the following morning, we pulled into Warsaw, and the enormity of the city and its buildings amazed me. Having come from Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, Warsaw seemed like a futuristic metropolis. Even though I hadn’t slept much all night, I was wide awake and ready to explore this shiny new city.