Birthday Weekend in Warsaw

We spent the last weekend in the Polish capital in celebration of my birthday. I personally chose this city because 1.) it’s easily reachable from Berlin, and 2.) I just wanted a squirrel to jump on me.

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And so it did.

April 28, 2017

We took the night bus to Warsaw to save one night’s accommodation. This is a new experience for me because I had never taken such a trip before. The ride took about 8 hours and all I have experienced in the past were day-rides that lasted up to 4-5 hours. This has proven really tiring because there’s absolutely no way I can get any quality sleep inside the bus that lets me recharge to last the next day, so maybe that’s something I will try to avoid in the future. We arrived at around 6 in the morning and our hotel’s check-in time wasn’t until 16:00. Naturally, we were dead-tired, walking around on reserve energy.

Lazienki Park

There are many great parks in Warsaw to choose from but Lazienki Park is supposed to be the most appealing one so this is where we went. Aside from the squirrels jumping on you, another thing to look forward to is the Plac na Wodzie (Palace on the Isle) which is charmingly located in the middle of a lake.

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We visited a few other parts of the city which has been made easy thanks to a great deal on public transportation tickets specially designed for weekenders. It’s valid from Friday at 19:00 until Monday 08:00 for a group of up to 5 people and you can get it for only 40,- PLN or about 10,-€.

Old Town

When it was finally time to check into our hotel room, we just rested a bit, freshened up then continued on with our tour. This time we were bound for the Old Town. There are a few sights one can’t miss when going there. Here are some of the few:

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There are plenty of restaurants to choose from but I would recommend picking one at the Old Town Square for any meal of the day. On warmer days there are seats available outside which is perfect for people watching.

April 30, 2017

We found a good deal on a hotel room at the Hilton so that’s where we stayed the night and had big breakfast on the morning of my birthday. We have taken this to our advantage because we were to leave in the evening and we thought we could avoid stopping by for food every so often if we stuffed ourselves early on. We stored our bags in a locker in the Central Station (12,- PLN for 24h) so we didn’t have to carry them around with us all day.

Neon Museum

What many don’t know about me is that I am in love with neon lights! I have been thinking of making my own one, some writing or symbol that I can hang on my window. So when I found out that there is a museum in Warsaw that specialises in these, I knew I had to go there. The Neon Muzeum in Warsaw exhibits original neon signs from establishments from the Cold War days, hence the extra retro look.

The rest of the day mostly consisted of eating and walking around Centrum area until we finally had to take our train back home. Time ran out so fast!

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And we got to remake a photo from my last year’s birthday trip to Copenhagen with different versions of The Little Mermaid statue in the background.

 

Exploring Copenhagen in One Day

We just got back from our weekend trip to Copenhagen. But because we arrived rather late on Friday and left early on Sunday, we only had the whole of Saturday to go around. We did quite a lot for just one day and when we got home some time in the afternoon, I was dead tired and just curled up and slept for a few hours. But it was so fulfilling to have seen so much in just so little time!

So I guess I’ll just start with our transfer and accommodation:

While we were in Stockholm last February for my wife’s birthday, she thought she’d just book a trip for my birthday and there, she chose Copenhagen. Again, we booked our accommodation via our go-to medium, Airbnb, and our place was in Nørrebro, only 15 minutes away from the city centre by bus and only  30 minutes away from Kastrup Airport (CPH). But because we were to arrive rather late on Friday night and because we found a good deal on a rental car, we took it so we could also drive around to the outskirts. Local transportation is fine, though, for you can get to pretty much anywhere within the city really easily.

EasyJet flights from Berlin SXF – CPH (roundtrip, for two): 76,19 €
Airbnb whole apartment for 2 nights: 127,- €
Rental car for 3 days: 44,90 €

April 30, 2016

My birthday. We got up early because we had our Copenhagen Canal Tour scheduled at 9:30AM. The weather wasn’t really ideal because it was cloudy and it looked like it could rain any time and I know this isn’t probably the best time to be on water for a whole hour but it was the only schedule they give out in their deal to get a skip-the-line entrance ticket to Tivoli Gardens at the same time. But it was, after all, a good way to get your day started. We embarked in Nyhavn, which is also one of the most famous landmarks in the city. And because it was so early, the place wasn’t full of tourists yet.

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Yes, the place you see on all the photos is in fact Nyhavn.

I’d say it’s informative to people (like us) who don’t know much about the city yet. We disembarked at Nyhavn as well then we went to the statue of The Little Mermaid. We had seen it briefly from behind while we were on the boat and our tour guide even called it “probably the most photographed woman in the city” which I’d say is true because we saw what was going on there at 10:00AM and we thought we’d never get a decent photo.

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Oh, but we did. Nobody actually got too close because of fear that their shoes might get soaked.

We then took the harbour bus to get to Christiania, which is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood right in Copenhagen. We first walked around the residential area which was pretty quiet or rather recreational. Despite its status, we’ve felt pretty safe walking around. Then we got to the centre of pusher street and there we’ve seen a bit more of what makes the place so famous. Taking photos is not allowed by the community of Christiania so I’ll just leave it to the imagination.
P1000877.jpgThere are also some stands there selling souvenir items, clothes, and accessories. I bought a sling bag from one of the stands there for only 40DKK (that’s about less than 6 €), and then I found another bag of the same kind that was sold at the stand next to it for 120DKK. I don’t really understand why it was 3x the price of the one I got but I’m not one to complain anyway.

Our next stop was Tårnet, which is the tower of the Christiansborg Palace. The best thing about this place is that you can get a nice panoramic view of the city and entrance is free! You may have to wait a few minutes to get inside but that’s okay because you will get to the viewing platform shortly, thanks to the lifts.

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View from the tower.
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Christiansborg Palace

We were ready for our late lunch/early dinner so we went to Sliders for burgers (it’s our celebratory choice of food and I guess also an alternative to a birthday cake). You would have to choose three burgers from the menu and you will get them in small sizes. I like the idea a lot because then, you get to try out more from the menu. This, again, I’ll leave to the imagination because they didn’t really make for appetising photos but they were really good.

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Instead, here’s a photo of me aggressively checking birthday greetings on Facebook.

We went back to the apartment and got the car so we could drive to Bakken, which is the oldest amusement park in the world. It’s a 10 minute drive from Copenhagen but it is also reachable by local transportation. Entrance is free but you would have to pay for the rides and games individually.

Entrance fee to Bakken: free of charge
Parking: 60DKK or ca. 8,- €

Driving back to the city, we stopped at Skovshoved Harbour for a few minutes to see some boats then we headed to Tivoli Gardens. Much like Bakken, it is also an old amusement park. In fact, the the second oldest in the world and it is located right in the centre of Copenhagen, across the main train station. The only ride we went on was The Star Flyer.

Entrance fee to Tivoli Gardens (regular price): 110DKK or ca. 14,80 €
Three tickets are required to get on the Star Flyer. Price per ticket: 25DKK or ca. 3,40 €

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The Filipino Connection

I guess it’s true when they say that wherever you go in the world, you will probably find Filipinos. In our case, though, we were in the bus on the way to Nyhavn the morning of my birthday when the woman in front of me smiled and asked if we were Filipino. I said yes and soon noticed that she was wearing a habit and figured she is actually a nun. She then asked if Joan is my sibling. I politely said, no, she’s my spouse (this was all in Filipino language, hence, the gender neutral terms). She looked at Joan a bit more closely and started saying “oh, I really thought he/she was a girl”. I corrected her and said that she is, in fact, a girl and we’re married. She found the thought so strange and eventually she said that man was made for woman etc etc and that God loves us and we should start thinking about what we’ve done and all that. The whole spiel is, of course, familiar and I just didn’t let myself get affected by it as much as it should I guess because, well, she is a nun and I guess it’s her job to get preachy, not to mention her whole life is all about deciding what’S sinful and not. We reached our stop and got out of the bus and went on with our lives. But, hey, what a great way to start one’s birthday, am I right?

On Misfortune

I don’t want this to become a regular section of my blog posts but we were just so unlucky last Saturday, we couldn’t even enjoy our time at Tivoli. The thing is, when we got out of the car, we noticed that there were some scratches on it. And, pretty surely, someone keyed it. We’ve no idea why someone would do that and we’re not even sure where it could have happened. It’s either in front of the apartment when we were parked there over night, or on the parking lot of Bakken. It just really stressed us out because it is, after all, a rental car and even with insurance and all, it can just drive you mad. And, for this reason, we didn’t stay to watch the Tivoli Illuminations because by then we were just tired and not really in the mood for much else but sleep. The next day, before leaving, we went to the police station to file a police report but the officer dismissed us and said they don’t do that and we should just discuss with the rental company. We just hope everything works out fine from here.

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Seriously, why
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Nevertheless, I had a great time with my wife and we just look forward to our next adventure which starts on Thursday!

Madrid

July 23, 2015

We were up for another bus ride and, this time, it was headed towards the nation’s capital, Mardrid!

Bus ride València – Madrid per person via Avanzabus: 29,75 €
4h ride

We arrived at our Airbnb sometime in the afternoon and our host was nice and friendly. Her name is Pilar, and she just set the bar so high! We booked another private room but she actually made sure we had everything we needed, and more!

Also, this:

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We took a lot of showers, obviously.

We were just really tired from not getting enough sleep the nights before so we just rested and called it a day.

Airbnb private room 10 mins away from Palacio Real for three nights: 68,- €

July 24, 2015

We didn’t have anything special planned for this day so we just walked around a little bit and bought some stuff that we needed. In the afternoon we decided to see a movie because I guess we were just tired of being tourists for the past week and a half so we did something locals would do on a day like this.

July 25, 2015

I guess we just felt so at home in Madrid that we even forgot that we were to leave the next day! Pilar had to remind us that our booking had only one night left so we rushed to do something out of our stay. And, quite obviously, we had to hit the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). We had hoped to come here on Monday afternoon for free entrance but since we will be gone by then, we were forced to pay for the entrance fee.

Entrance fee per person: 10,- €
Check out free rate conditions on their website.
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Palacio Real

After that, we went to Real Jardìn Botànico (Royal Botanical Garden), mostly because I like plants. And it was pretty fascinating to me.

Entrance fee (per person): 4,- €
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I mean, these Agaves are taller than me.
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And we met this little critter on his siesta.

Abanicos

Walking around town, you will find many a souvenir shops selling fans much like this one for 4 € to 6 € a piece. But, if you look long and hard enough, you will find some vendors selling them for 2 € each! Just try to explore around and do take your time. I easily took ten of them home. They also come in many different colours and designs.

July 26, 2015

We said our goodbyes to our lovely Airbnb host and went ahead to Chamartin train station to leave our luggage in a locker. We still had the whole day to stroll around because our train wasn’t leaving until 10PM and we just didn’t want to take so much stuff with us. Pilar has told us about the Teleférico so we checked that one out. It’s basically just a cable car that takes you from the city to Casa de Campo Park in a ten-minute ride. The view, of course, is amazing. They let you out at the park where you can stay for a picnic or just some siesta time before heading back.

Teleférico ride (per person): 5,60 €
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Manzanares River

Misfortune

We finally went back to Chamartin station and just had dinner there and waited for our train. Just around 45 minutes before our train was scheduled to leave, Joan sent me to the ATM to withdraw some cash but the machine asked for some six-digit pin from me which I didn’t have because I was only familiar with the four-digit pin (it’s still a mystery to us what the machine even wanted from me) so, unsure, I canceled the transaction but the machine refused to give me the card back! Which is bad enough if it happens to you in your own city, but how much more in a strange city you were supposed to be leaving in less than an hour! So we had to make do with the cash we still had left and withdrew some cash from another card in another city. All that stress, though!

Trenhotel

Taking the night train was something we had yet to try. We were placed in a room for four females to sleep on our bunk beds and to wake up in a different city. It was a fun experience and we met this girl who was in the cabin with us whose name we’ve never gotten but she was very friendly and we got to talk a lot about politics and history and life. Now, the great thing about taking this train was the combination of transportation and a night’s accommodation. It’s something we would love to do again if it’s available in any of our next travels.

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It’s not much but what more do you need for a night’s sleep AND transfer, amiright?
Renfe Trenhotel tourist bed for one night per person: 37,80 €
Madrid to Lisbon

Next stop → Lisbon!

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Couldn’t resist having my own dog tag made by a machine at Chamartin train station
Dogtag: 5,- €