Today it’s time to say goodbye to a beautiful city of Gdańsk and head to Warsaw. We considered a few routes, but decided on a slower one as it didn’t have a toll. Road tolls are something that we don’t really like, even though it is a suitable way to keep the motorways in working order. The reason why I personally detest them is that, as a tourist, there is never a clear information how to pay the toll. We have had troubles with them beforehand, and now we try to avoid the toll roads as much as we can.
Besides, as we have said before, taking smaller roads offer you so much more to see, and can sometimes cut the mileage as well.
In hindsight, it might have been better not to trust Google Maps as it turned out to be much longer than the 4 hours advertised in the map. But on the other hand, we didn’t really think of this, as we didn’t realise that we would be partially taking the same road that led us to Gdansk… and it just happens to be the same road which is undergoing those massive roadworks that delayed our arrival in the first place. But, c’est la vie! like the French say. Besides, we are on holidays, which mean that these things can happen. And also, when you are planning a road trip, you should expect something like this to happen anyways. But when it comes to the condition of the roads between Gdansk and Warsaw, they seem to be in a really good condition.
But had we not taken this route, we would have missed a curious remnant of the World War II, or maybe something else. I tried to google more information about this, but didn’t manage! These two tanks seem to be guarding a bunker of sorts just next to a petrol station on a motorway! Around the area we saw another bunker (whilst driving), so maybe the area of Olsztynekgmina is of historical value? If anyone knows, let us know in the comments for this blog.
(c)Two Queens Travel Blog, 2017
Again, one of the best things when avoiding motorways is the scenery and the little towns and villages that litter the countryside. From our (minimal) experience, it seems that a lot of roads in Poland, even big ones, that are lined with trees. During today’s drive we wondered how nice these roads would look during the summer, when the leaves are in and the sunlight creates nice patches of light and shadow. Now we just had to be grateful of magnificent sunset whist making our way towards Warsaw. As I am keen on trying new things with my phone, whilst I am not driving of course, I decided to take a timelapse video for you to see.
And finally, 18:30 in the evening, about 6 hours after leaving Gdańsk behind, we saw this and knew that we would arrive shortly:
Of course, when arriving to a major city, it is obvious that finding a parking place is a bit of a hassle in the first place. And also, trying to understand the traffic signs and parking instructions in a language that is completely different from any languages we know poses a slight difficulty. But in the end everything is settled and we find a spot very conveniently located near the booked accommodation.
Warsaw’s Old Town In The Evening
After unpacking the necessary things for the night, we hop to the car once again and head towards the 13th Century Old Town and the Christmas Market! Arriving there we see the familiar sights of narrow, winding streets, and a palace which is lit by falling snow, and a huge Christmas tree! Very picturesque, and very cold. In fact, so cold that we can see the effect of it on our phones – the batteries are depleted very fast and it renders photography to bare minimum.
Christmastime in the Old Town (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2017
The Old Town looks really pictoresque and seems like a nice place, like in many other cities where we have visited. And with the history of the place surrounding us, the biting cold doesn’t bother us as much as it could. Did you know, that during the Second World War the Germans bombed the Old Town quite badly, but the Poles rebuilt the area, painstakingly using as much as the old stones as possible. And it seems that they have done a marvellous job with it as well!
But, as it is a cold winter’s night, and as we might want some souveniers as well, we take refuge in a souvenir shop from the biting cold, and ask if Mika would be allowed inside, and to our delight, he is! And that is not all – the salespeople in the shop were really smitten by our Poodle Boy. They were so smitten, in fact, that we got a discount from the products we bought!
The Christmas Market doesn’t seem to be as grand as the one we saw in Gdansk, however. Or maybe we didn’t go to the same market as the Norwegians went? But even though it was built on a quite narrow walkway by the old city wall, the atmosphere was very warm and Christmassy. Sadly though, the Warsaw Christmas Market didn’t have any collectible mugs, so we ended up having our hot drink from paper cups instead. The stalls were filled with handicrafts, and there were some Christmas ornaments as well, but many seemed to concentrate on candies, foods, and drinks as well. And as our drive had taken longer than anticipated, the market was already closing.
Whilst having a walk around the place we came across another square (market square), where there were people ice skating and eating a variety of different foods from the stalls!
Ice Skating, anyone? (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2017
I am not sure, but I think it is because of the Christmas Market time, that the locals have turned some courtyards as (temporary) parking areas, which are really convenient, as we all know how difficult it is to find a parking space anywhere near an Old Town. The area we found, cost only 12 złoty, which translates to roughly 2,85€ with the current exchange rate, but it needed to be paid by cash (which of course requires a visit to a nearby ATM before picking up the car).
Whilst walking back towards the car park, we came upon a map of the old town, made of some metal. We have come across this kind of maps before, but not too many times. Photo really doesn’t do justice to it.