Warsaw

Street Smarts

more than a year ago
Many of the great things we love about Warsaw are not immediately obvious, especially to the first time visitor, though we know at least one local who had also failed to notice a couple of these titbits we spotted while out researching.

Street Signs (1)

Every single street in Warsaw is clearly marked by a number of well-positioned and highly visible street signs. It is almost impossible to go more than 100 metres in Warsaw without knowing what street you are on. What’s more, the signs are almost always colour coded: each area of the capital has its own colour. As a visitor you are most likely to see blue signs (for the south and south-central part of the city) and brown (for the northern part of the city centre, and Old Town).

Street Signs (2)

There’s far more helpful information on those street signs than the mere street name, however. If you look closely, the vast majority of street signs also include the numbers of the building in the block to which they are attached. What’s more, there will often be an arrow showing which way the numbers climb. As anyone looking for ul. Marszalkowska 135 (or such like) will know, Warsaw’s central boulevards are incredibly long, and knowing which way to go makes life much, much easier. Whoever it was who decided to invest in the street signs (and they have been up for some time now, certainly for more than a decade) we hope that they became rich and famous. (We should also point out that there are loads of older style street signs and building numbers around. Many of these are gems from the past, often in the form of lamps over old apartment blocks. One day we hope a keen photographer with trainspotting tendencies will collect them all together in what would be our dream coffee-table book).

Tram Stops at Intersections

Much in the same way that arrows on Warsaw’s street signs have prevented us walking kilometres in the wrong direction, so a similarly cunning little arrow on the tram system has saved us from getting on the wrong tram hundreds of times. How? Easy: if you look closely at tram stops at intersections (where the tracks go in two or even three directions), the numbers of the trams which stop there will be grouped according to the direction they travel in. Those which go straight on will be listed under an arrow pointing straight on, those which turn right will be accompanied by an arrow pointing right, and so on. Again, hardly complicated stuff, but ingenious, and a genuine case of ‘traveller’s friend.’
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