Revisiting Warsaw

My phone alarm started to ring, it was 7:30am. The morning light was dim and diffused. Clouds had settled above Prague overnight and you could smell in the crisp air that it had been raining during the night.

With everything packed up I quickly said goodbye to Kate who was still lying in bed half asleep. Adam came outside with me to the bakery where I bought some sandwiches and pastries for the long journey ahead. We crossed the road back to the tram stop where he handed me a ticket, just in time for me to board the number 9 tram that came rolling in.

We said goodbye with a handshake and I was off on my own towards the bus station in Florenc. The tram didn’t take long to get there but I nearly missed the stop, weren’t it for a nice Czech guy who told me to get off at the right time before the doors shut. I slowly followed the signs to the bus station as I still had 20min to go before my coach would leave. The station was clean and modern with departure boards showing all the buses that would leave within the next hour. At the bottom of the list was my 8:40am Polski Bus leaving from gate 7.

Fifteen minutes later the coach arrived, it wasn’t hard to miss as it looked exactly like the ones I saw on their website, bright red and black. Once we boarded the long 10h journey to Warsaw began. We slowly crept through the Czech countryside, heading north towards our first stop in Wroclaw. The grey clouds began to part and allowed the autumn light to light up the landscapes in wonderful patches of intense golden colour. The entire journey felt like a drive through a Van Gogh painting with bright light, earthy tones and deep blue patches of the sky showing through the grey clouds.

I fell asleep a couple of times, woke up, did some work and fell back to sleep again. It was around 7:30pm when we approached Warsaw. The roads were getting bigger and you could see more and more houses and concrete apartment blocks appear along the motorway. Anna had already contacted me on Facebook that she would be picking me up from the bus station. The moment I stepped off the bus it felt like winter, the air was biting cold and the wind made it feel much chillier than usual.

Anna called me and after a slight confusion of where we should meet, we made it inside their warm BMW convertible. They had repainted it from gold to matte white, last time I met her and her husband Maciej back in June at the EOS Orthodontic conference, but you could see that she wasn’t happy with the paint job. We drove back to their home where we met up with Maciek who just returned from work before heading to the city centre for a traditional polish dinner. As they had to leave early the next day, we did a quick late night tour of Warsaw from the comfort of the heated seats of the car. You could feel that the engine had been modded and Maciek was keen to show it off by revving up the engine and accelerating hard.

I just thought how cool it was, sitting in that car, racing through the half empty streets of Warsaw in the middle of the night. Once home I went straight to bed whilst Anna and Maciej were packing and finishing off some work. I have never met such a hard working couple.

The next morning I was up early once again, Anna and Maciej were already awake despite having worked till 3am in the morning. We even had time to make some pancakes which were filled with the most amazing sweetened fresh-cheese/quark called Serek. 30min later the taxi arrived and too us to the airport where Maciej and Anna got off in order to catch their quick flight to Wroclaw. We said goodbye and I was once again on my own in the taxi heading to the central station in Warsaw. There I stashed my main backpack in one of the many lockers and took my daypack loaded with most of my camera gear.

I started off by going to the main shopping mall in order to get my bearings using the wifi to load google maps and select a couple of things I wanted to see. The first thing that caught my attention was the old jewish cemetery so I hopped on the metro and tram in order to get there. When I arrived I missed the rather small entrance and got slightly lost in the neighbourhood, but once I did make it inside I was told that I only had 30min as the cemetery was closing at 2pm. I quickly dashed through, whilst trying to take in the sheer scale and sombre atmosphere of this place. Come 2pm I left the cemetery, hopped on another tram towards the old town

With 6 hours to spare I wandered around the old town taking photos of the buildings, people and the many birds that were bathing in the fountain at the old market square. The sky was mostly clear, with the strong golden tinted light illuminating the old buildings like bright spotlights. The play of light and shadow was something to behold and kept me busy till sunset. Having finished my burger and uploaded some more shots to Instagram, I headed back to the station, where I picked up my main backpack and boarded the next bus towards Vilnius in Lithuania.