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  • Writer's pictureKaren O.

Paris of the east - Warszawa

I almost never spend more than 72 hours when I visit a city, but I make it a habit of finding time to enjoy myself as best possible, even in not so favorable winter conditions (it gets dark before you can even finish a decent lunch).

Today I am in Warsaw, sprawling historical capital of Poland, visiting a really good friend to catch up on our lives in the last year and talk about everything from politics, Nigeria, Poland, the world, relationships, people, tragedies and what not. I'm happy to have a local as a friend as well as my personal tour guide and today the weather is in my favor.

Chief Kubz like I fondly call him is going to be my local tour guide lol (perks of having a friend who is Pol) showing me around the city while telling me about the history of Poland. Follow me as I share Warsaw with you.

First stop; POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The word "Polin" is a Hebrew word meaning "Poland" or "here you will rest".

Architecturally unique and placed in a symbolic part of downtown Warsaw - in the pre-war district mostly inhabited by Polish Jews during the war and made into a ghetto by the Germans - this museum holds a thousand years of history.

The Ghetto Heroes Monument is located in front of the museum. As a historic gesture, the German Chancellor Willi Brandt knelt in front of this monument to symbolize an apology from Germany for the crimes of the Holocaust.

Also nearby is a monument to Jan Karski, who is said to be an emissary of the Polish underground state. It is recorded that in the autumn of 1942, Jan went to the United Kingdom and told an eyewitness story on the extermination of Jews to the Allied authorities.

Next is the Warsaw Barbican

I told you, it gets dark before lunch time in the winter lol.

The Warsaw barbican is positioned between the old town and the new town sort of like the bridge between both areas. It is also one of few remaining architectural relics from the historic fortifications that once acted as defensive walls around Warsaw in the 16th century.

From the barbican, I took a walk towards the Old Town Market square. One of the things I like about Old town market squares around Europe in December is the Christmas markets.

I'm also a fan of the colorful buildings you find in many old towns across Europe. There's something beautiful about how these colorful buildings line up and I often wonder if there's something symbolic about the trend.

We walk through the old town market place enjoying the cold winter air, the laughter of people shopping and others sipping hot chocolate in nearby restaurants, until we reach the The Royal Castle.

The Royal castle which was once home to Polish monarchs is now a state museum. Interestingly it was completely destroyed along with all of the old town by Nazi Germany in WWII, and later rebuilt.

The castle square is home to the Sigismund's column.

Built in 1664, this column was erected in honor of King Sigismund III Vasa, who moved the capital of Poland from Krakow to Warsaw. There's a legend about Sigismund and his Sabre whenever Warsaw is in trouble. An interesting moonlight tale over a hot cup of Kakao, Na Zdrowie!

Food is always part of the explore and for dinner I tried out a restaurant called Warszawski SZNYT in the Old town.

Located in the corner by the castle square, the ambience is warm and the staff are pleasant. I'd recommend you try a meal there if you find yourself in Old Town Warsaw.

Duck and steak, yep you guessed right, I'm a meat lover.

The next day I'm taking a walk in another direction of the city, this time within the new town. It is foggy and drizzling but like I said, you make the best of a trip even in not so favorable weather. Afterall, you never know when next you'd get free tour in company of a local buddy lol.

Lazienki Park or the Royal Baths Park is the largest park in Warsaw. It's part of a Park and Palace complex linking the Royal castle with the Wilanów palace.

The Royal route houses the park, a palace, an orangery, Temple of Diana, monument to Frédéric Chopin and an amphitheatre.

It is absolutely stunning and you could spend hours just watching nature and everything else in the vicinity.

After exploring the beauty that is the center of Warsaw, I ended my day with a traditional polish meal which you'd find at a Christmas Eve table I'm told.

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