The best view in Warsaw

I visited Warsaw, the Polish capital city, for the second time in 2015. Just like the first time, the main reason behind my visit was a music concert. The first time I had arrived on an early summer afternoon, just days before the UEFA Euro 2012 would kick off in that very city. Everybody had told me that Warsaw was grey and ugly, but I found it exciting and vibrant and unexpectedly colourful.

On my second visit I felt like I had landed in the wrong city. A thick fog was covering the top of all the tall downtown buildings, including the infamous Palace of Culture and Science.

warsaw poland fogMany people who belong to a generation different than mine will say that their favourite view of the city is with their back to the Palace. I stood facing it, my sight getting lost where it merged with the sky on that foggy day. Built as a gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation, the Palace of Science and Culture came to be one of Warsaw’s symbols. Those who hate it see it as a perpetual reminder of a hard time that now belongs in the past. I don’t blame the past on a building; to my generation the Palace is only a harmless piece of architecture.

warsaw-poland-fog-3The Palace does not stand alone anymore as the tallest building in the area. Skyscrapers built in the last decade keep it company and on foggy days together they merge with the sky. I found it absolutely mesmerizing, seeing all these tall buildings fading to grey. It was only my second time in Warsaw and the city was showing off a completely different face than the previous time, spoiling the photographer in me.

warsaw-poland-fog-2As I was wandering around the Palace I was approached by a strange man who engaged in conversation. My weird Polish accent betrayed me and he asked if I was Ukrainian. His shabby clothes and worn out hands hinted at the fact that the streets of Warsaw were his home, and his desperate need to have a conversation with another human being made me think even more so. He told me that he had taken part in the 1980 Summer Olympics and suggested I’d visit the gym on the 43rd floor of the InterContinental Hotel for the best view of the Palace.

warsaw-poland-fog-4I figured I had nothing to lose and headed for the classy hotel after we said do widzenia. Once inside the reception I headed towards the elevators and asked to be taken all the way up. No, I was not a hotel guest, I just wanted to visit the gym. As the elevator doors closed behind me I felt like I got really lucky to receive this random tip to be able to see the city from a different perspective.

warsaw-poland-fog-5
The 43rd floor view on a foggy day.

“Not the best of days for the view”, greets me the receptionist of the gym. I tell him I’m only here to take a few pictures and then I’ll leave. He tells me to take my time. Indeed, as cool as the fog was from street level, up there it kind of ruined it. Nevertheless, I felt lucky I got to experience this.

As my train made its way out of Warsaw the following day I thought back about that stranger and wondered if he had really been in the Moscow Olympics. I will never figure it out, but I like to think this could have been the truth. Or maybe it was only a little story he liked to tell random strangers who would grant him the pleasure of a conversation.

After all, liars always make the best storytellers.

The Polish capital city has several famous landmarks, and one of them is the Palace of Culture and Science. Follow me on a foggy day, trying to get the best view of the city as per a strange man's advice...

More Poland posts? How about my guide to explore the hipster side of Krakow? Or my impressions after attending a Polish wedding (yes, there are pictures both of the bride and the food)?

28 thoughts on “The best view in Warsaw

  1. I love your writing! I’ve been to so many places when the sun just didn’t want to come out and have very similar photos 😅

  2. I love the tone of this piece. Even though it’s short, I felt like I was disappointed over the fog & fruitless tip from a stranger. Thank you for sharing this with us. 🙂

    1. Thank you. I thought that this strange experience was worth sharing. Apart from the peculiar experience itself, hopefully somebody else will make better use of this tip on a good weather day!

    1. I bet it is and I’m sad I didn’t get to fully appreciate the view. But from street level that fog was special and I took home some very unusual shots anyway!

    1. I have the same fascination and apart from when I was at the top of the hotel not enjoying the view, I felt really lucky I got this quite special weather on my short visit there!

    1. Hopefully you will! I also wrote a couple of posts about good restaurants in Krakow, if you’re also passing there. I hope you enjoy Poland, and hopefully you’ll also get to experience some special weather while there!

  3. So random but totally awesome!! I love tips like that. They make for epic photos and great stories!! Thanks for sharing the fun!!

  4. Such an interesting and unique perspective. I like fog (unless I need to drive) so I really liked the pictures. I also have never been to Poland so this was all new for me.

    1. I like fog too, I think it does add up to a landscape. I’m happy you enjoyed my foggy photos, and hopefully one day you’ll get to visit Poland and see these buildings in real life.

    1. Thank you! I really tried to focus on how I felt that random day and tried to convey these feelings to this piece. When I visited Georgia I was based in Poland, there are cheap flights connecting the two countries. Maybe you can try to organize a trip to Poland from the Caucasus on a reduced budget! 😉

  5. So cool how you took the weather and the corresponding mood and ran with it – it’s always nice to see a place from a different perspective! I’ve never been to Poland but it always strikes me as a “grey” place, in terms of architecture and history.

    1. Thank you! I guess that the reputation as the country that everybody invaded and decades of soviet architecture don’t help to portray Poland as very colourful, but it really is. Clearly not in these photos I took, but Warsaw’s Old Town, that I had visited on a previous trip, is very colourful, and so are many other cities.

  6. What a lovely encounter – was hoping to hear more! I’ve been fogged out at Victoria Peak, Hong Kong and the Blue Mountains in Australia but mostly it’s not about seeing the same things as everyone esle, it’s about having your own personal experience. Nicely written.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked this post! Everything was so strange it all added up as good story material and I decided to write about it. I had quite a special personal experience in Warsaw and I don’t mind that fog at all, made me bring back some fine photos!

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