It’s that time of the year when the flames of football fever engulf Europe and the rest of the world. We highlight Kiev and Warsaw, the capital cities of first-time EURO hosts — Ukraine & Poland
The World War II may have been catastrophic for Warsaw, but today, that is what makes the city a culmination of great history and magnificent modernity. The old town in Warsaw, which was rebuilt post destruction in the war, today stands as a testimony to the grit of the Polish to emerge from the ashes, literally. Justifiably, it is also one of Unesco’s world heritage sites, and undoubtedly, a great tourist attraction. To savour the culture and the beauty of the city, take a walk along the Old Town and see the array of shops, cafés and little restaurants waiting to serve the enthusiastic travellers some of the finest Polish delicacies, as you walk by.
The Castle Square in the Old town is one place you just do not want to miss. Built in 1821 by king Zygmunt III, the Square features a statue of him in the center, and is a testimony of architectural brilliance. Shining in a flaming red colour during the day, the Castle Square is the best place to grab a beer as you watch the musicians play their instruments, as old-world style horse-drawn carriages trundle from one place to another.
After breathing in the beauty of the outdoors, it is time now to see the indulging interiors of the Royal Castle, where obviously, the royalty of Poland resided. Worth every zloty spent, the castle gives a peek into the lavish lives of the kings in times gone by. And if you ever got a chance to read up about the Polish greats, what better way to see them, than the Powazki Cemetery. The ‘home’ to many erstwhile actors, musicians, leaders, authors and film-makers and even spies, the Powazki Cemetery screams more history than you can ever imagine. Not to forget the old town churches, museums and the Barbican – an ancient access gate built in 1548, Warsaw is the destination to be this year.
How to get there
Jet Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air India and Qatar Airways fly to Warsaw from Hyderabad with stop over destinations at Mumbai, new Delhi, London, Amsterdam, Munich, Doha and Bucharest in Romania. The price range starts at Rs.60,000.
One of the hotbeds of vibrant cultures, Kiev is where you need to be. With Ukraine hosting the much awaited Euro 2012 championships, the capital city of Kiev obviously had to be our focus. This city of golden domes boasts of two of the most spectacular Unesco World Heritage sites — the Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Kiev Pechersk Lavra. Justifiably titled the city of golden domes, Kiev is laced with a skyline of shimmering domes of various churches and monasteries, and has slowly manoeuvred itself into the exclusive list of offbeat places to visit.
Take a walk along the Khreschatyk Street to get a feel of Kiev, especially during the weekends when the roads are closed to traffic. Savour the beautiful architecture, the street musicians and the busy pedestrians engrossed in their activities. Do not forget to visit the Independence Square, where if you are lucky, you will get to see parades, concerts and festivals there. And not to forget, the St Michael’s Monastery, Pinchuk Art Centre, the hub of modern art and the Golden Gate —the seat of ancient Kievan civilisation. If you are one for whom a trip without shopping is no trip at all, then go to Andreevsky Spusk. An ancient street once, Andreevsky Spusk is now a landmark either bustling with cultural activities or festive celebrations, and is lined on either sides with souvenir shops, budding artists displaying their works, singers, actors and theatre personalities showcasing their talents. And do not forget to carry huge shopping bags when you go there!
How to get there
There is one direct flight from Hyderabad to Kiev on British Airways at a cost of around `70,000, and numerous indirect flights from Hyderabad to Kiev on Aeroflot Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air India, Lufthansa, Emirates and Ukraine Airlines at a price range starting from Rs.50,000. The flights stop over at Moscow, Istanbul, Munich, Dubai and Almaty in Kazakhstan.