This post is SO delayed, but life has been banana-pants and I haven’t stolen the moment needed to post my thoughts on Warsaw.
Because February is February, when a friend asked if I wanted to escape London for a weekend, I immediately said yes. Our destination was largely determined by the Ryanair prices for the following weekend, and Warsaw, Poland emerged as the winner!
This was my first trip to Poland and I was so impressed by what Warsaw had to offer. It was a bit chilly (but that is to be expected in Poland in February), but there were so many things to do, see, and eat. Here were some of my favs.
Things to see & do:
As the “city of his heart” (literally) there is a lot of Chopin-themed shops, drinks, and sights. Throughout the city, there are park benches that have information about where he spent his time during his 20 years in the city which also play music while you learn.As Chopin is my favourite composer, I was thrilled that there are nightly concerts in Old Town. The Time for Chopin events are held in an intimate venue (probably holding about 20-30 people) and a grand piano. The hour-long concert is interrupted by a short mead break, during which you can also enjoy the art exhibit that is in showcased in the space.
The most obvious thing to do when in Warsaw is to wander through “Old Town.” Warsaw was heavily damaged during the war, and so the old town is a really interesting example of reconstruction, where the city was re-built based on photographs to replicate what the original city had looked like. Unlike many European cities with medieval centres, Warsaw’s old town is a really fascinating combination of old and new.Is there anything more sterotypically polish than stepping out onto the street with your belly full of perogies to see a old man sitting on a stoop playing the accordion? I think not.
Architecture & city views:
Outside of Old town, the architecture reflects the tumultuous past, and buildings from every historical period can be found throughout the city, including examples of Socialist Realism architecture and towering modern architecture. Warsaw features an eclectic mix of all of the things! This building, the Palace of Culture and Science was a “gift from Stalin” and as such, was quite a controversial building that dominates the skyline, and to some represents an enduring symbol of Soviet domination. One of the “things to do” is to go to the viewing level and check out panoramic views of the city.
Where to eat:
I was really not expecting Warsaw to be a foodie paradise. I had been looking forward to perogies and cabbage, but was pleasantly surprised by the decedent, flavourful, and mind-blowing options available!
Momu – The first place we ate set the bar sky high! There was live music upstairs, but they had tables downstairs in a cozy cave-like setting. I could hardly handle how excellent the food was here. We had a smoked beetroot & cheese starter, which I followed with a soup that totally blew me away.
Karmnik – The decor of this old town gem is amazing! The ceiling is adorned with what I thought was a series of paper cranes, but it turned out they were paper pigeons.
Bright, cozy, and generally adorable, Karmnik also had amazing food! We ordered the cheese board, an elaborate Bloody Mary, and a plate of our first Polish perogies. We were not disappointed!
Zapiecek restauracja – all the perogies, classy ambiance.
And this one – I actually have no idea what this restaurant was called, but if you come across it, off a square in Old Town, you will certainly be in for a treat for the eyes. You head down a few steps and then the room opens up into a huge vaulted cave. This restaurant certainly got top marks for interesting decor, and the food was quite good (but not exceptional).
Radio Cafe – Touted as serving “authentic Polish food” we headed here for breakfast. I am a big fan of restaurants who have their story written on the menu. Radio Cafe’s menu recounted its history as a hub for Radio Free Europe during the time of the Iron Curtain. The radio provided information apart from the local propoganda, but it was illegal to listen to it, and heavy prison sentances were issued to those caught listening. While this place has an interesting and important history, the food was certainly nothing to write home about, but it was inexpensive and interesting to visit.
- Where to drink coffee:
Relax Cafe Bar: A few blocks from the hotel, we found Relax Cafe, which featured meticulously made, perfectly delicious coffee. A very small place, it may get busy at times, but we had a quiet table and a pleasant wait for our perfect cups.
Kawiarnia Kafka: This coffee shop is in the university area and it had that classic student-y feel, complete with the wall of books. Lots of delicious gluten free options, so craft beer, and a wide selection of coffee drinks.
The Roots: Holy camoli were these cocktails good! This seasons’s cocktail menu was inspired by the mountains of Poland, and they were fresh, impressive, complex, and delicious. And with the exchange rate, you can get could have a night out on what you would spend on one or two at a trendy London bar.
Klar cocktail bar: We sampled some of the best vodka here, but I have to admit that after having a few sipping vodkas, I was ready to turn to something else. Their espresso martini is one of the best things. I was so enamoured that I returned the following day for another.
Other bits and bobs:
There were so many other charming, delightful, cute, or strange things in Warsaw, I thought I might just insert a helterskelter collection of unrelated things that brought me delight.
Unreadable signs. Apparently, my Polish is not very good. I don’t have a real explanation for this one:
Nice knockers and knobs!
Farewell to footware
This was the LAST trip of my old faithful Chelsey boots. These leather companions first arrived in my life in Copenhagen in 2012, and have tromped and trod through around 15 countries and on countless adventures. My baby toe was starting to explore the outside world, bursting through the leather, and I decided this was their final trip. RIP. I have found their successor, but they have yet to claim the size 8 hole these have left in my heart.