In the blink of an eye, my time in Vilnius is over and I’m boarding the airport train from Warsaw Chopin Airport to Warszawa Centralna. Costing 4.40zl (around AUD$2), these red and white airport trains are a cheap and relatively easy option to get to central Warsaw, the only difficulty was in finding my way out of the station to the correct entrance at street level.
There are two SKM lines – S2 and S3. S2 runs twice an hour and S3 runs once an hour on a shortened route. You can find more information here.
Thankful for the small backpack I had packed for Vilnius, I stopped by the Fotoplastikon not far from the station. This theatre has been operating in this location since 1905, making it the oldest stereoscopic theatre still operating in its oringal location.
The Fotoplastikon was the forerunner to what we know as a movie theatre today. So what is it and what does it look like? Walking into a smallish room, I was met with a large round wooden box that contained a pair of metal eye goggles (for want of a better term) and a small wooden stool at each. Taking my seat at one of the stools, my eyes glued to the goggles, images of wartime Warsaw flipped before me as the smell of wood and must transported me to a long ago era. It’s amazing to think how far technology has come and how much wonder this machine would have generated in its day.
This German invention mesmerised crowds with its images of far off and exotic places, in a time when tv didn’t exist and travel was out of reach to most. At one time, there were 250 Fotoplastikon units scattered across Europe, now there are just a few.
After a quick stop at my apartment, I hit the streets again to tick off some more sightseeing. My time in Warsaw is rapidly running out and there’s still so much more to see. The National Museum of Ethnography was still on my list from my first trip, so off I headed to check it out.
The first couple of rooms were a little underwhelming but the second half of the museum was a riot of colour and culture. I especially loved the traditional decorations display and made note to try and find instructions on how to make some of them for myself.
Here, there was all facets of Polish culture on display. From dancing figurines…
…to festival regalia and traditional artefacts…
…and a staggering array of ethnic costumes.
Some of these items I had seen in my Babcia’s home (and always wondered what they were), others I had seen in the open air museums visited in the last few weeks, so I now had context around how and when they were used.
Next up was the Zachęta Gallery, housed in a beautiful old building. Zachęta is one of the leading contrmporary galleries in Poland and on show was a photographic exhibition about Tatts.
The exhibition is a journey into the hopes and dreams conveyed in the tattoos of ordinary, so-called ‘good people’. The exhibition was only small but of interest nonetheless.
Prior to his death, Frederik Chopin requested that his heart be taken from his dead body, which was to remain in Paris, and sent back to his home country of Poland (you can read more about this interesting story here). The result being that his heart is now enshrined, most likely bathed in cognac, within the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
Chopin, as most examples know, is one of Poland’s favourite sons. You can do a day trip to visit his family home or check out the Chopin Museum. But a lot of people don’t know about the musical benches, which ate scattered throughout the Old Town. You can download the Chopin in Warsaw app (via play store) to locate these benches, listen to his music or even take a selfie with him!
What’s the word for a late lunch / early dinner? I don’t know but there is a perfect dish for it and that is Nalesniki – Polish crepes. I selected a mushroom one (though they do come in a variety of sweet flavours as well) and washed it down with ‘piwo i sok’. Beer and juice. Not as horrible as it sounds and perfect for this heatwave.
Wandering the streets I think about how much Warsaw has changed since the 4 years I was here last. In some ways its even ahead of Perth. There’s plenty of public wifi, great transportation including Uber, amazing museums, riverside bars and and incredible amount of dining options.
Back then I had the sense that Warsaw was about to undergo a period of growth and it was incredible to see some change. I enjoyed Warsaw a lot more, but I think in part because I understood her a lot more.
I will be back in Warsaw in just over a year and I wonder what changes I might see again? Not too much, I hope.