Well! Well! Well!
I went to Warsaw.
If you recall, I wrote a post a year ago about how to party in Berlin and another piece called If you’re going to dance the night away – Do it in Berlin so I know what I’m talking about!
Whoopee! Yeeks. That was some week!
I’ll be writing about the party spots of Warsaw very soon LOL!
From the moment I got off the train in Warsaw, to the moment that I stepped forward onto the bohemian mecca of Nowy Świat, Warsaw has been nothing but an utter surprise.
And the locals have been fantastically pleasant and helpful.
Where to start.
Warsaw is much bigger than you think because really cool locations are scattered about. Warsaw is, on the other hand, pretty easy to get around so follow my footsteps and don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk too!
WHY GO TO WARSAW?
Yeah, why bother?
It doesn’t have a proper beach and it isn’t as pretty as the lovely seaside villages.
Warsaw is something else.
Warsaw is old and historic with culture.
It’s in the “other” Eastern Europe. It’s still pretty unknown, very former “East” and not really on the backpackers or tourist run, so it’s pretty cheap and is never going to break the bank. If you’re looking to go to the Eastern or former Soviet States then of course, you have to pass through Poland at some point. For many, it’s Krakow, but if you’re in Poland anyway, why not drop into Warsaw too!
It’s also a “new” city with young people and a lively heart of art, food and drink because Warsaw has had to start from scratch as it was razed to the ground towards the end of WWII.
Yes, Warsaw is ugly however, if you look behind the skyscrapers, there’s a synagogue. If you look between the cheap, horrific 1950’s block of flats, there’s a lively church.
It’s no wonder that the locals recommend getting a guide. Everything of interest is hidden.
Items of modern art are everywhere and sometimes in the most unlikely places with strange items like Pegasus, and stone or iron monuments of war and remembrance.
Chopin is a god in Warsaw. His face, his name, his memory and of course, his music. You can even sit on a bench and his music is played. Very relaxing!
Oh yeah, it’s cheap. Not as cheap as Lithuania of course.
Unless you come from Cardiff LOL!
More about that next week!!!!!
Because cabbage, sausages and dumplings, otherwise known as pierogi.
TAKE ME THERE?
You know how much I like trains. They’re just so comfortable and full of ease. And if you’re on the European Continent, it’s the easiest and sometimes, cheapest way to travel.
If you’re going to Britain or any English-speaking country, I recommend flying!
Most airlines will be flying into Chopin Airport with a minority flying into Warsaw Modlin Airport. Once you get in, take the buses. There are five (5) bus lines taking you into the city centre. Try to avoid taxis or ask your hotel/hostel for help as to the “right” taxi to take. Warsaw has a reputation of dodgy drivers but then so does Bangkok! Just keep your wits about you.
If you’re coming in by coach-bus, you’ll most likely drop off at Warszawa Zachodnia which is on the other side of the river. In a place called Ochota.
Once again, I booked the very easy-to-use Deutsche Bahn – German Train and it was a rather nice €29.00 each way for a five (5) hour and 15 minutes journey. It was on the second (2nd) class train and I bought my ticket in September. There is WiFi on board and you get offered a cup of coffee or tea. Absolutely free!
You really couldn’t get any better than that!
My carriage mates came from Thailand, Poland and Britain (myself) and even though our compartment was fully booked, the rest of the train was pretty empty until we got to Poland itself! All the women brought their own food with them and at some point, one person even had a home-made meal of chicken and a bowl of dumplings. I felt pretty boring with my pâté and ham & cheese sandwich!
You will most likely alight at Warszaw Centralna which is in an area called CENTRUM. You can also buy your ticket on the Polish inter-city train (ICCC) website.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
Warsaw isn’t an OMG-we-have-just-got-to-go-visit destination. Not yet anyway, but only because the throngs of communist times are still very much attached to the post-war image of Warsaw.
Warsaw isn’t big in my opinion. It’s wide but really walkable. I was able to walk from Muranow (where the Jewish History Museum is) to Ujazdow (where my hotel was). It was low season and the weather was really rather nice, sunny and dry.
WHAT IS WARSAW REALLY LIKE?
I was in Warsaw for four (4) days and it’s definitely a city that I would like to visit again.
I found Warsaw to be different to what I expected and in some parts it reminded me of Berlin. The people are authentic and tell it like it is but it’s definitely Polish because the natives don’t talk a lot about the capital. You would even think that they hated it, but secretly, I think they’re proud of their roots and foundation.
Most people are traditional at heart and the church plays a very strong role in Polish society as does the family. Everywhere I looked were collections of lit tea-light candles and flowers put on the ground. (Does anyone know why?). Photographs of the Fallen during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and Old Art depicting what Warsaw used to look like 100 – 200 years ago.
Having said that, although Warsaw and in fact Poland, is extremely homogeneous and limited in diversity, it’s not without culture. There is no doubt that Warsaw is a cosmopolitan city.
Veganism has arrived with a crash and a bang, posh shops are “in,” fashion skinny men with their equally fashion skinny dogs, Paris-slim attractive women and the lure of organic food.
The young and middle-class have a rising income, are very interested in new designs and modern art, look good, dress well, know how to party, and want to spend their money.
I DON’T SPEAK POLISH.
In the really local places like the milk bar, nobody spoke anything else. BUT there was always at least one (1) person who could help me and that person was usually between 50 – 70 years old LOL! There was a bit of staring.
OK then, a lot of staring!
But it was due to the shock of seeing a person of colour wearing a pink coat, multi-coloured pop socks, and orange suede shoes walking down the street!
On a serious note, young people do speak English and I had no problems walking up to random people and asking for help, advice or directions. Some people even asked me for a photograph.
They were from The Ukraine!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Nah! Warsaw might be a country from “the other” Eastern Europe but you’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There are plenty of hostels to be had.
Since I was travelling solo this time around, I decided to spend one (1) night at a hostel.
If you want to party, I’m told that Okidoki Hostel is the place to be but I just couldn’t do it to myself. I still have vivid memories of discovering a complete stranger on my bed, in a mixed dorm. In Prague! Those cheap and cheerful days are terribly over so I chose Patchwork Design Hostel instead which caters to the more budget conscious traveller, is fairly new, clean, right off the corner of Nowy Świat and is quieter!
I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?
I stayed at a rather lovely unique designer boutique hotel called Autor Rooms. The hotel is located in one of Warsaw’s most beautiful and historic kamienica-style residential buildings. It’s right opposite the Faculty of Architecture and is one street behind the Warsaw University of Technology. Autor Rooms is an artistic concept and designed by independent young creatives who come from, and believe in a world of modern fashion, craft, art and design. More details next week!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Warsaw has plenty of variety and has trains, trams, buses, bikes. I used the bus once while I was in Warsaw but the highlight was the underground station.
OMG! The metro station is amazing. It’s new and just so clean and quiet. The stations were even announced in English. Take note Berlin!!! I couldn’t believe that the underground train lines were so short. There’s just two (2) lines. TWO! M1 (blue) and M2 (red). You won’t get lost…!
But don’t forget. Don’t take taxis!!
Try a milk bar.
What’s a milk bar? I’ll tell you next week!
Oh, and watch your pockets.
I almost got pickpocketed by a dodgy-looking Polish couple.
Luckily, I noticed that the woman was walking at my pace and the man was standing too close to me and so I quickly side-stepped them and then they stood on the cobbled streets and started arguing about it!
I liked Warsaw.
It’s very, very green and has parks everywhere, it’s young and upcoming and the tourist hordes aren’t yet here which means the prices are cheap and you’re likely to get more of an authentic experience, AND it has a river.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
This post is not sponsored and even though I received a discount on the hotel, all opinions and the astonishing experience that I had, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more about what to do in Warsaw and how to do it!
If you’re going to Warsaw, Bristol or Bath, let me know!
October is going to be Autumny!
Watch this space!
Did you know that Warsaw had a river? Are you surprised about this introductory guide?
See you in Berlin.
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