This year I’ve had several business trips to Europe. Twice I ended up needing an overnight layover to satisfy a Saturday night stay requirement to keep ticket prices in check and within my corporate travel policy. Not ideal, but I ended up making the most of it, and got to visit some new places, even though it was cold, and ended up snowing in both locations.
Tourist for a day in Warsaw
When booking my trip to Istanbul, for the return flight, I noticed a Warsaw connection. The timing was right out of Istanbul, and being on Star Alliance, I could visit the Turkish Airlines Lounge before departure. I was planning on spending the night in London, but then the option of an overnight Warsaw was there, so I went for that. A creature of habit, but mixing it up sometimes is good. I’ve not visited Poland before, so I could add to my country count as well.
I arrived in the evening and took Uber the 20 or so minutes to my hotel near the city center. It cost all of US$3. After a long week of work, the Westin Heavenly bed in my hotel room was pretty tempting, but I did decide to venture out into the city a bit. It was late, but I figured I could sleep on the long plane ride home on Sunday. I found a local craft beer bar, had some drinks and tried to plan out my day on Saturday. January in northern Europe. Yes, it was cold and snowy, but I had enough layers of clothing so it didn’t really cause me to miss out on anything I wanted to do.
A Walk to Warsaw Stare Miasto (Old Town)
After breakfast in the hotel, I headed out. Despite cheap transportation options I decided to walk. Easier to get the feel of the place that way is a perk as well. The Westin Warsaw is in the central business district, and is maybe a 20 minute walk to the old town. Much of Warsaw was destroyed during World War II, but this area has been rebuilt. On my walking tour, I couldn’t help but notice the diverse variety of architecture. It ranges from Gothic, Renaissance, and more. I didn’t get a good photo, but the Palace of Culture And Science is an impressive tower built in the Socialist Realism style. There are also countless modern glass skyscrapers.
There are many references to the Warsaw Ghetto as much of my walk was in the location of Ghetto in the early 1940s. Eventually I made it to the Old Town. As an American, something from the middle ages seems ancient. I enjoyed visiting, and UNESCO has designated this area as a World Heritage Site. Like the rest the city, it is a mix, when I was there, there was an artificial ice rink in one of the squares.
Final Thoughts on my quick layover in Warsaw
After a long morning walking around, I was getting ready for a bite to eat. That and the snow started to fall more heavily. So I booked Uber, headed back to the city center, and found a place for lunch. A Polish work colleague told me that Warsaw isn’t that interesting and the food is all international and not local. My lunch of pork belly steamed buns were tasty, but not very Polish. I enjoyed my day there, but would rather visit somewhere new on a return to Poland. After lunch, I returned to my hotel, and then to the airport and eventually home. It was a short but worthwhile and enjoyable visit to Warsaw.