Here is a trip report of our recent trip to Warsaw and Krakow - two very different cities in Poland. I travelled with Steve, an old friend of mine, and we went for four days at the end of March 2014. We managed to cram a lot in during this time with the highlight of the trip being a Segway tour around Krakow. Why can't we have these machines to ride on the roads (or even pavements) in England?
After a busy 2h 15m flight from East Midlands to Warsaw Modlin via RyanAir, we arrived into Poland at 21.45 and headed out of the terminal to catch a taxi to our nearby hotel. (There had been very few English on the flight - the vast majority being Polish.) After a short taxi ride we arrived at our hotel and practised our limited Polish on the receptionist who was quite impressed with us. The hotel was in a remote location (it was an ex military base) and there wasn't a lot to do nearby so we booked an early breakfast and had an early night.
After breakfast, the cook kindly took us in her car to the railway station where we boarded the train into Warsaw. The train ride took around an hour and after changing train once we ended up at the central station in Warsaw .
Upon arrival the city appeared quite modern; it was completely devastated during the war and rebuilt in 1945. One thing we noticed straight away was that people didn't cross the road unless the green light was on. We found out later that it was against the law to do this (it is also illegal to cross the road of you're not at a crossing) and was punishable by an on the spot fine. It seemed really surreal as, being early on a Sunday morning, there were not a lot of cars around and people just stood there for ages waiting for the signals to change.
We spent a while checking out the Technica museum - where they had a great collection of old computers including one of the Enigma machines from the war - and has a long conversation with one of the guides who was really knowledgeable about the subject. We found the tourist information next to the museum and a very helpful lady suggested a walking route through the old town.
The next few hours were spent exploring the marvellous old town, eating and drinking in the square and walking through the parks.
We visited the tomb of the unknown soldier, then in the late afternoon sunshine we strolled back along the Royal Route to the railway station to catch the evening train to Krakow.
The train journey to Kraków was 3 hours long which may sound like a long time but we were in an old fashioned enclosed carriage with four Poles who had a good serve of humour and spoke good English so the time passed really quickly.
When we arrived at Kraków train station one of the Poles kindly showed us the way to our hotel which was quite close to the old town. After a quick change we were out on an interesting night out in the town square (the largest in Europe) and on to a number of local drinking establishments. One of these was a cellar bar which sold vodka shots and snacks at a really cheap price. Apparently this is a really popular phenomenon in Kraków now.
Filled up by a cooked breakfast the next day we walked in to the old town centre to the offices of the cool tours company where we began our Segway tour of Kraków. Our guide was Sylvia and she took us into Rynek, the city's main square, to acquaint us with our electric vehicles. The Segways rely on your body weight to move forward, backwards and from side to side. It took us a couple of minutes to be able to get our balance and then we were off.
The tour took us around the university district, past the castle and along the river where we saw a boat moored up with a full size open air swimming pool on board and next to it, on the shore, was an artificial beach.
We crossed the river at lovers bridge. Here lots of couples had locked padlocks onto the bridge and thrown their keys in the river to declare their love for each other.
After crossing the bridge we glided along on our Segways to the statue of the dragon, below the castle. Legend has it that the dragon lived in a cave below the castle and ate virgins until a farmers gave the dragon a poisoned sheep's carcass. The dragon ate the sheep and had to drink half of the river to quench is thirst. This made the dragon explode. Every 4 minutes a flame comes out of the dragons mouth.
The trip continued around the city and onto the park which surrounds it for a couple of hours. We were really impressed with the tour - it was a perfect way for us to see the city in a short time frame - and wished that the law in England could be changed so that we could ride our own Segways on the streets and pavements back home.
After the tour we walked up to the castle and then onto the Jewish quarter for lunch. We then slowly meandered back through the city to catch a train back to Warsaw.
The train back to Warsaw was a lot more modern but lost some of the charm of the old style compartment we had on our outward journey. On the short walk to our Warsaw hotel from the train station we encountered some beggars who we politely declined. After checking in in front of two bus loads of noisy teenage Jewish boys we settled into our accommodation for the night and then went off to spend the night in a micro brewery. The beer was on offer - 2 for the price of 1 - and the food was really tasty so we tarried for a while....
The next morning we took a taxi to the airport (40 mins 120 zloty) before embarking on our return flight back to the UK.