Warsaw, Poland

Poland Here We Come!

Following our visit to the Baltic States we continued our southward journey to the capital city of Warsaw, Poland.  Guidebooks had warned of tiny back roads and heavy truck traffic along the route from Vilnius to Warsaw but we found the roads to be just fine except for an unexpected road closure due to construction.  The detour did not set us back much and we made the drive in around seven hours.

Copernicus Science Center

Visiting science museums is one of our favorite activities and the Copernicus Science Center did not disappoint.  The science center opened in 2010 and all of the exhibits still seem brand new.  The museum includes two floors of exhibits as well as a planetarium.

Our youngest enjoyed experimenting with different kinds of pumps at the water table.

One fun piece was the slinky treadmill; by adjusting the speed of the belt one could keep the slinky going indefinitely. 

The ‘flying carpet’ operated using compressed air.

This interactive sand table created topographic maps on the fly as the kids piled up sand into different shapes.

The Copernicus Science Center is definitely a must-see for families visiting Warsaw!

Warsaw Old Town

Warsaw has a charming Old Town where we enjoyed a stroll one morning .  In the center we found a statue of a mermaid that is one of the symbols of Warsaw. Legend has it that long ago a fisherman rescued a mermaid trapped in a net and from that time the mermaid swore to protect the city.

The Old Town dates from the 13th century but all of the buildings had to be totally reconstructed after WWII because the German Army purposefully destroyed the city in retribution for the Warsaw Uprising (more about that below).

Warsaw Rising Museum

The Warsaw Rising Museum chronicles the history and people involved with the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.  Before traveling to Warsaw we were not familiar with the uprising or the events that transpired afterwards so the museum was an eye-opening experience.

In a nutshell, the uprising occurred as Germany was retreating in the face of the Soviet Army.  The Soviets encouraged the Polish Home Army to rise up against the Germans and free their city, which they did on August 1, 1944.  The Polish Home Army then fought for two months without support or heavy weapons before being defeated by the Germans.  In retribution, the German Army then razed most of the city (especially any building with political or cultural significance).  The fighting ensured that the Soviets would be able to ‘liberate’ what was left of the city a few months later without much resistance from either side.

The ‘heart of the museum’ is a wall that plays sounds of a beating heart intermingled with sounds of battle.

The museum includes a “little insurgent” room that is geared toward children and even serves as a childcare service for parents visiting the museum; unfortunately this was closed during our visit.  Most of the remaining exhibits are not really appropriate for young kids so ours spent most of their time using our smartphones while we parents worked our way through the museum.  While the museum is fascinating and well done, we wouldn’t choose to bring kids again unless we confirmed in advance that the child area is open.

Pinball Station

After visiting the Warsaw Rising Museum we needed a more lighthearted activity and the nearby Pinball Station fit the bill perfectly.  Pinball Station is an interactive museum of pinball and arcade games.  The entry fee covers unlimited use of the machines inside.

The pinball machines were arranged by release date and it was interesting to see the evolution of features as technology progressed.  The oldest machine dated from 1938.

The kids had a blast and could have stayed all day.  

Walking the Vistula Riverfront

Walking along the Vistula river in the evening is a great way to take in a Warsaw sunset.  Along the river there are cafes and restaurants as well as fountains and sculptures of sea creatures.

One restaurant had a ‘beach’ with lounge chairs where we stopped to enjoy a drink and a snack.

Summing Up

We found Warsaw to be a great family destination.  In addition to the great attractions we enjoyed some wonderful food; the kids filled up on different types of pierogies (Polish dumplings) with fillings that included potato, meat, and berries.

In our next update, we head to Krakow, the ancient former capital of Poland!

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