Up and at ’em. We began our exploration of Warsaw Tuesday morning. It’s actually quite amazing how simple it is to get around this city. Well, especially if you have Jim with you! He did his homework well…so our first stop was an ATM to get some zloty to purchase a transportation card. The best deal for us was to purchase a 3-day ticket that would allow us to ride as much as we wanted for three days. The tickets are good for trams, metros, buses, and even the train to the airport.
When faced with the ticket machine, we debated whether to purchase discount tickets. Couldn’t read what it said other than discount. A college student was behind us in line and we asked if she spoke English. Of course she did! She said that the discount tickets were for senior citizens and students. With ID. Well, senior citizens are in their 60s here. Hooray, we qualify. But my only identification with me was my passport…and THAT we had to leave at the embassy. The student told us that the ‘transport patrol’ folks were quite strict and she doubted that any could converse in English. We opted for a discount ticket for Jim (with his license) and full price for me. Still a good deal.
We boarded the tram that would take us across the bridge. We were told to be sure to get off at the first stop — the one with the palm tree. A plastic palm tree. Located in the center of the Charles de Gaulle roundabout. We heard different stories about this tree…not sure the truth of why it’s there…but it makes a great landmark!
We spent the next 30 minutes or so looking for a place to buy a new sim card that we could more easily (and cheaply) reach H. After peering into every little store that looked hopeful, we took a break from the search to go into a bookstore. We really wanted a simple guidebook that might lead us on a walking tour of various sections of the city. Though this bookstore didn’t have a guidebook in English for us, the first-day-on-the-job bookseller was quite helpful in pointing us in the right direction for the card.
Found the proper kiosk. Purchased the card. Put it in the phone. But we couldn’t get the phone to recognize the card. So frustrating! Continuing to walk down the street, we decided to stop at one of the gazillion outdoor cafes and literally map out our route using the guidebook. We were drawn to one cafe that featured a salad with cranberries… and something else. The cranberries had me from the get-go. Turns out the ‘something else’ was grilled goose cheese and thinly sliced apples. I was in all the way. And Jim opted for the same thing. (Our waiter wanted him to order something different so badly, but Jim was looking forward to the cranberries as well.) Such great flavors! Amazingly I felt quite satisfied — not overstuffed and not still hungry — by the portions served. Oh, American restaurants could take a lesson from these portion sizes!
We continued walking down the street en route to Old Town. What a great place to people watch! One thing that Jim noticed right away is that everyone does not have a phone up to their ear. People were engaged in conversations with each other as they walked along. Sure, phones can be quite useful when you’re out and about. You know, when you’re waiting to hear from your host whether you have a place to call your own for the next several days. Thinking that no news is good news.
I was caught off guard when I saw this street sign:
We kept looking forward and spotted the tallest secular monument located on the border of Old Town — we were close and we picked up the pace. Near the entrance, we heard the sound of a young man singing along to his accordion, children squealing with delight as they were free to just run around, tour guides speaking in various languages, and we saw the horses and carriages that slowly tour the grounds. Thankful for shade for the horses — the sun was really beginning to bear down.
We opted to stay on foot and search out specific landmarks we learned about in our guidebook. Seriously, we could have just walked and walked around these charming streets all afternoon.
All the while checking for an SMS or an email. Surely H would call if someone else wanted the flat — giving us first dibs. I mean, we’re already in it! And if we have to move tomorrow, where do we go?