Science day out: Copernicus

It all started with a conversation with my couchsurfing hosts in Warsaw. I asked them to suggest a place I could spend my morning exploring. I was expecting a park or garden but they looked at each other and answered in one voice: Copernicus.  

The science museum/ centre is located on the banks of the Vistula River and is a favourite with locals and tourists alike. In fact, every schoolkid has spent hours, if not days, at the centre. “It’s the best way to pass your time, and you get to learn so much,” said Kasia. “You need three whole days to be able to explore the whole place.”

After spending three hours, I realised Kasia was right: it was impossible to truly explore Copernicus when against a half-day deadline. I tried.

Copernicus may be a science centre but the glass and steel building has exhibitions, a planetarium – showing 2D and 3D films, and weekend workshops. At then entrance is an interactive robot that will sing songs if you ask nicely. 

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A two-storey high Foucault pendulum, greets you as you enter the atrium

It is a kingdom of interactive experiments, over 400, covering astronomy, physics, chemistry, music, robotics, history and psychology over 22.000 m². It is geared to kids, but you will spot adults having a lot of fun too.

The exhibits I visited were On the Move – focussing on motion; on The Roots of Civilization exhibit looks at the development of mankind and inventions though history; the Re: generation Zone is for older kids and explores psychology, sociology, economics and biotechnology; Lightzone for those who like crime mysteries; Humans and the Environment for in-depth knowledge about humankind (the mind and body) and their relationship with the environment. 

In my three hours there I explored mirrors and their impact on light and movement, saw my name spelled in Egyptian hieroglyphics, saw a fire tornado, helped fill water and examine its effect on turbines, created 10-feet and higher soap walls using soapy water, became a DJ, conducted an orchestra, experienced an earthquake, and got my photo clicked in an astronaut suit! 

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Yep, that’s me!

My favourite exhibits were Electrobard – a robot poet, who writes and recites poems on request; the pschology section that tested my memory and observation skills – I was really bad at spotting clues at a crime scene but got full marks on the memory and song puzzles and a stairmaster that allowed me to create electricity. 

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Mirror selfies get a whole new meaning here!

There’s also an outdoor gallery, ampitheatre, labratories and a rooftop garden, which I didn’t get time to explore. Go here to view a fun video.  

Go to Copernicus if you want to experience push-the-buttons-and-see-what-happens exhibits and learn how science can actually be fun. Bonus: every exhibit is in English and Polish. 


How to get there: The centre is a five-minute walk from the Centrum Nauki Kopernik subway (metro) station; via bus it is bus no. 118, 127, 105 (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka bus stop) and bus no 185 (Metro Centrum Nauki Kopernik). 

Log on to Copernicus for more details. 

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Milk bar: Prasowy

It was, to use Twitter parlance, a #ftw (for the win) moment.

The day: 19 of my Euro trip
I was at: Prasowy, one of Warsaw’s popular milk bars
My achievement: I had successfully ordered a typical Polish meal and I could eat everything on the plate.

You see, I had walked past Prasowy once before and couldn’t muster up the courage to enter for fear of ordering something I couldn’t eat. It was only two days earlier, I had visited another milk bar and ordered Flaczki, what I thought was a beef soup but was actually tripe (I couldn’t eat the meat). This time, I was prepared – I had scanned the menu at my couchsurfing hosts’s home, made a note of translations and made note of exactly what to order.  prasowy
Prasowy is the hippest milk bar in Warsaw. It has a menu that changes daily – written on a chalkboard, all-white interiors and Ikea furniture. An open kitchen gives a glimpse of the variety of food (no, you can’t point and order) and they make all their dishes by hand. They host cultural events too and a notice-board has details of citywide events.

My meal was simple and consisted of food that is staple to the Polish lunch table. There was Gołąbki – minced pork mixed with onions and sticky rice in a cabbage roll; Zupa Pomidorowa or Pomidorowka – a rich tomato soup cooked in meat stock and served with either rice or potatoes or, in this case, pasta; and Ćwikła – a Polish and Western Ukrainian salad similar to a relish made with grated beets and horseradish.
The cost: 17 zloty (approx. Rs 350)
The experience: Priceless!

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Clockwise from left: Cabbage rice rolls, tomato soup with pasta and beetroot salad

Aside: Bar Mleczny or milk bars are essentially ex-Socialist era workers’ canteens. The food here was subsidised by the government with the idea of allowing poor wage-workers a good, nutritious meal. The milk refers to the largely dairy-based content of the meals. These days, from about 2010 onwards, they’ve transformed into homely cafeterias, offering local fare at cheap rates.