About Poland and its rivalries
Every country have its rivalries. In Poland this is well known: Warsaw-Krakow. The story I heard in Krakow is about an alchimist mad king -not so different from the one that wanted to burn Kings Landing- Sigismund I, who making experiments burnt the Wawel Castle in Krakow and, taking adventge of this situation moved the Capital from there to Warsaw. Since then and through the convulsed history of Poland, these two cities are constanty disputing over which is most beautiful and which is the true capital. Warsw people accept contemptously that Krakow is cuter and prettier but they hold proudly the honor of being the capital and the center of the country. Krakow states that, since Warsaw was completly destroyed during World War II, and even if they try to rebuild it, it is a scared city, without the historial heritage of the most touristic city in Poland: Krakow.
I know all this first handed because I lived one year in Krakow and went to Warsaw several times. I have checked that this rivalry is not a myth: Some people -especcially tour guides- really get offended when you say something nice about their rival. Now, I want to tell you my experience in Warsaw, my first time there because it was the only chance I got for sightseen and because the first impression always matter.
Travelling around Poland is very easy. I traveled with Polskibus, one of the biggest bus companies in the country. Five hours is the time you need to go from Krakow to Warsaw and even if these buses are not the more comfortables, this time is covered by cheapish amount of 15 zl (or around it) which is something less than 4 euros. If you are student you can travel in train which is always exciting.
I stayed at Warsaw Center Hostel, which is very well located, near to one of the most important avenues in the city and walkable distance to the historial center. I only had one day in the city and I wanted to take adventage of it -In Krakow, city center and historical center is the same thing, which, in my opinion, is better- I took the Free Walking Tour about the old time. This Free Walking Tour is a tour company in Poland offers serveces in the touristic cities in the country. Is great, I love it. With them we saw and understood many of the secrets of warsaw: the norrowest facade and the reason of its existence, the wishes bell -it worked for me-, the famous comunist milk bars, Marie Curie house -Yes, she was polish, not french- and the beautiful Chopin benchs all around the city. Each of these benches play a different song composed by the famous polish composer, so you can enjoy and educate yourself while you wait for someone: we also saw the only building thats wasnt destroyed during the war and we heard the mad king story from the warsaw point of view -according to them, he was not crazy. Of course they love the man who moved the capital from Krakow- we saw the castle and I hve to apologize but Wawel Castle in Krakow is prettier. We ate in the milk bar where Dalai Lama ate in his visit there; it is cheap and polish, but not very good. For deserve, the Jewish Tour. Even when Warsaw was destroyed and there is no much to show, they have a rich story, in which you realize how brave they were. Schindler is not the only hero in Poland. They suffered a lot, but people in Warsaw face their history a bit more cheerful that the people in Krakow. They even joke about the fact that they always rise and they always lose, but they are very proud of never giving up. And I am proud with them.
Park Lazienki is beautiful to visit, but not during the night -is not lit at all- and not in winter, please. They have there a statue of Chopin and trees and grass to have a nice time. I walked and walked and walked. I saw the huge Palm Tree in the cuty center -very particular-. Finally I had dinner in Manekin, excelent restaurant with great and cheap -as everything in Poland- food.
I didnt see some things, like the Uprising Museum, or the Science Museum or any other.. I think if you only have one day is better to see the strees of the city. I didnt see the Prague Neighbourhood and I dont know why it is called like that, but is the bohemian part on the city and they have recorded a lot of movies there and, according to them, is dangerous -obviously, they have neved lived in Venezuela-.
Now, the obvious quiestion: Krakow or Warsaw?
To cosmopolitan people, Warsaw would be better. Is bigger and, of course, is a Capital, so it is always busy and noisy. It is a beautiful city with plenty of history and things to do. For me, the thing is clear: I like more Krakow. Maybe for reasons I will write later, maybe just because it was my house for several months. You know what they say: Home, sweet home.