Country number fifty
in Warsaw, Poland on 27th August, 2013


When Triin and I were traveling around South America earlier this year I took the time to count out every country I'd ever visited. Most countries I've been to I've stayed for at least a few days. A couple of them I was in for a couple of hours and I spent about 90 seconds in Slovakia. I took the number of countries I'd visit and added the number of new countries we'd visit during the South American trip and it came to 49. If I were to visit one new country I'd have visited 50 countries around the world. A milestone in my mind.

I then took a map of the world and started to highlight countries I wanted to visit in the near future which I haven't yet done so. Brazil, China, Iceland and Japan all made the list. But looking at a map of where I'd been in Europe there was one big gap: Poland.

I've always meant to visit Poland. My Great-Grandpa was Polish, I've worked with several friendly and talented Polish developers in London and the women of the country are famous for being beautiful.

Our first stop in Poland was Warsaw. While waiting to pick up our bags at the airport I checked to see if there was any free wifi available. There wasn't but a locked network called "Two girls, one router" appeared. I thought that was pretty funny.

I'd google'd Warsaw taxi fares and practices before our trip and got nothing but a load of warnings about being ripped off. We caught a cab and I sat next to the driver. I kept an eye on a route map on my iPhone showing our current location and where the hotel was.

When we got to the hotel I showed the driver 40 Zloty in notes and demanded he show me the change for the fare before I handed over the money. Triin said I treated him like a thief but seeing as it was the first time for a lot of things that night I wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

It turned out every single taxi we took in Poland was cheaper than anywhere else I'd caught a cab in Europe and the drivers were incredibly honest. Some even rounded down the fares.

We checked into our hotel room and it was amazing. I'd never seen a room that cheap that was that nice. It was more well decorated, furnished and cleaner than anything we'd stayed in during our trip around South America. We were on the 22nd floor and had an unobstructed view of Northern Warsaw.

The next morning Triin and I walked to a train station to buy tickets for a trip to Krakow the following day. The taxi drivers hanging around outside the station reminded me of Moscow. We accidentally queued for train tickets at a bus ticket counter. When I asked to buy some tickets the sales lady told me to go away.

We saw some signage which lead us down a few underground passages to another kiosk where we could buy the train tickets. The passage again reminded me of some scary underground passages in Moscow.

We queued for ten minutes before buying our train tickets. Nothing was in English and I wasn't sure if the sales woman understood me. I looked around for a young Polish person working in one of the kiosks. I found one woman who looked to be around 25-years-old. I showed her my tickets and asked if they were for two people. She read the ticket and told me yes with a smile.

After that we got a taxi into town and ate some breakfast at a bistro near the Presidential Palace. We then walked around the Old Town for a couple of hours. It was large and pretty but there was a lot of construction going on. It's a shame and I wish I had timed the trip better as I'm sure the photos I could have taken would have been much better.

In the afternoon we'd found the first Starbucks we'd seen since being in the Bahamas in April. Triin was ecstatic that we'd found it. Lots of Polish people work at Starbucks in England so it was kinda like ordering a coffee back in London.

We got dressed up in the evening. Triin had found a nice restaurant online that was two blocks from our hotel room. The food was amazing and the waitress was attentive. I had a steak which was cooked perfectly and was full of flavour.

We only scheduled a single full day in Warsaw as we had a lot more planned for Krakow. We went to bed early as we'd be up early for our train.

The visit was short but sweet. I didn't get the feeling that I wanted to move to Warsaw but I can't think of any complaints about it either.

For the record, these are the countries I've now been to: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.


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