My second glorious press trip to England. Yes, I’m going to Bristol & Bath. Yippee!

@Brunels ss Great Britain in Bristol.
@Brunels’ ss Great Britain in Bristol.

At last!

Halloween is over. And so is October and that officially means the beginning of winter – my favourite season. Oh, didn’t I tell you that I love the cold! I love the heat of mulled wine whilst outside a chilly Xmas market stall. The freshness of a crisp cold air and the smell of ice and water. The sound of rattling teacups as I surround myself with minced pies, sandwiches, and Bonfire Night paraphernalia.

happy-guy-fawkes-day-bonfire-night-graphic

Bonfire Night?

You know. Guy Fawkes. Fireworks. Treacle toffee. Baked potatoes wrapped in foil and stuck in the fire?

Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November,

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.

I see no reason, why Gunpowder Treason,

Should ever be Forgot!

That one.

Which one?!!

Oh, never mind!

The British Berliner is going to England!

Now I’ve from the North. I’m from Manchester but I’m not going to visit “home” this time. Nope! I’m going to the South. South-West England to be precise.

Marvellously spiffing!

Berlin - very British - rbb

But doesn’t she live in Berlin? Isn’t she the British Berliner?

Yes, of course, but as I constantly keep reminding you, Berlin is my new home and England, in the United Kingdom is my original home. Hence, the British part of my name.

As part of my winter present to you all, I’m going to be visiting a new destination that perhaps many of you have never heard of. So without more ado:

@picture-alliance/dpa
@picture-alliance/dpa

THE BRITISH BERLINER IS ON A PRESS TRIP TO BRISTOL & BATH!

Wow!

Now, I’ve been to Bath a few times, but I’ve only actually been to Bristol once, on an overnight sleepover, whilst on a three-week adventure, through the rugged coastline of Wales, so I’m pretty excited. But first, a little introduction.

WHAT IS A PRESS TRIP?

My first official press card. Yeah!
My first official press card. Yeah!

A Press Trip is normally described as a visit to a destination, country, city, hotel, venue etc, organised for media groups. It usually introduces and presents the best bits of a particular itinerary and is usually for a small group of journalists or bloggers, or an organised private trip. Although a press trip could be for a few hours, it usually refers to a trip of a few days.

Last year, I went on a familiarization trip, or FAM TRIP to France and that was fabulous. This time round, this press trip has been organised as a private one. I will be making my own way from Berlin to Bristol of course, but once I get off the plane, I will be the guest of Visit Bristol who have been absolutely incredible in making sure that my visit will be a marvellous one.

Although this press trip has been personally designed by the city of Bristol, I will visit Bath too. In that wise, the city of Bath have been  generous in allowing me press access to various venues. Thanks so much Bristol & Bath!

By the end of the week , I’ll be in England and I really can’t wait.

HOW DID I GET INVITED?

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As you know, my blog is now two years old. Yay! And in the last year, I’ve really done a lot and gone to many places but I haven’t been back to my home-country! My favourite brother had been to visit us in the summer so there was no immediate need to rush back to the North, and so when I discovered that I had a small window, I decided to utilise it and go to a different English destination.

I went to the ITB this year, and Bristol and Bath were the two booklets that I happened to pick. It was that simple. It was surely meant to be LOL!

I sent off an Email and the rest, you’ll read about in the next couple of weeks!

I have been extremely lucky that because I have a corporate job and therefore my own income, I can afford to choose where I go, when and why. It is because of my own means that I choose to write the topics that I do. In my way. On my terms.

Cool Britannia!
Cool Britannia!

I’m the type of person that is willing to get myself out there and be pro-active. I also have a genuine interest to get involved, which attracts the attention of people who are willing to help me in my quest for knowledge and information. This happens because of the simple matter that, when I undergo to write a piece, I make a thorough job of it.

I blog because I have a passion for life, and where I live, where I go, and what I do. It’s a lifestyle, expat, travel, thing LOL!

As far as I’m concerned, all good things have, and will continue to come my way whether it’s in the form of an invite, an event, or a press trip (you know where to find me LOL!)

WHERE IS BRISTOL?

Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge, Bristol. ©VisitBritain Pawel Libera
Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge, Bristol.
©VisitBritain Pawel Libera

Bristol is a county in South West England. It is England’s sixth (6th) most populous city and has a population of about 400,000 people. It began life as a village Brycgstow in Anglo-Saxon times and changed to Brigg stow – Bristol sometime in the 10th century.

Bristol’s history as a trading and important river location stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th century, Bristol was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were leaving Bristol to find colonies in the New World and for sadly, that awful blot, that was to become known as the slave trade. In the last two hundred (200) years, Bristol has transformed and grown into a busy commercial port and in modern times, a striving destination to visit due to the Harbourside’s renaissance with contemporary art, theatre performances, literature, history and heritage of the local people. It has also begun to fuse it’s historically elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture with contemporary modernity.

At Bristol Planetarium & Bristol Cathedral. @Bristol
At Bristol Planetarium & Bristol Cathedral.
@Bristol

Bursting with character and charm, Bristol is home to a historical harbour, an Old City, fascinating attractions, culture, theatre, history and fantastic shopping.

Pretty much all the things that I like!

WHAT WILL I BE DOING IN BRISTOL?

The Llandoger Trow in Bristol.
The Llandoger Trow in Bristol.

The point of this press trip is to introduce the region as a cultural place to visit, and a short-trip destination for not only readers in Germany, but also in Europe and in the United Kingdom itself! In fact, Bristol is a hop and a skip from London or you can fly straight into Bristol, as I’m doing!

A flight from Germany or anywhere on the European continent is roughly about 1.5 – 2 hours. Other ways to travel to Bristol are either by train to Bristol Temple Meads, by coach/bus to Bristol Bus and Coach Station, or by air to Bristol Airport via the Bristol Flyer Express Coach. You could also, of course, simply take a car, and drive up!

This press trip is a long weekend starting from Friday evening and finishing late on Tuesday evening. I will be spending 2 nights in Bristol and 2 nights in Bath and flying with Easyjet from Berlin directly into Bristol.

Stephen Jones - English fashion!
Stephen Jones – English fashion!

When we think of England, we think of rose-covered cute cottages and baronial country hotels, but did you know that you can also sleep in a windmill, a treehouse, a pineapple, a gypsy wagon, and a chocolate boutique hotel in Britain? Well to prove it, I’m going to be sleeping in a caravan. Yep! Yours truly is going to be glamping on a rooftop!

Brooks Guesthouse Rooftop Rockets!
Brooks Guesthouse Rooftop Rockets!

I will be staying at an exciting boutique B&B and sleeping in a stylish rooftop caravan rocket at the Brooks Guest House in Bristol. I’ll be going on a historical walking tour of Bristol and getting to appreciate and visit Brunel’s British engineering masterpiece that was the ss Great Britain – the world’s first luxury ocean liner. I’ll be planning to hang out and explore the Harbourside whilst taking a ferry-boat ride across the waterfront.

I’ll probably have a quick lunch at Bristol’s oldest market – the 200-year-old St Nicholas Market – and potter around the vintage and second-hand bookshops and then I’m going to chomp my way through dishes such as Roasted Hogget Rump or Jerusalem Artichoke & Winter Truffle Pressé at The Cowshed.

I simply can’t decide which!

The Crucible at the Bristol Old Vic.
The Crucible at the Bristol Old Vic.

I’m going to be opening my intellect at the Bristol Old Vic to see an outstanding performance of The Crucible. You know how much I love drama and theatre. Get a hanky and a glass of wine ready!

On my second and final day, I might catch a hop-on-hop-off bus and  visit the M Shed which tells the story of the city and it’s unique place in the world. I’ll probably go for a bridge walk to see the fantastic view of the Avon Gorge and city and then I’m going to spend the afternoon shopping and daintily sipping and chewing on Afternoon Tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel nestled in the heart of Clifton Village.

Red and blue cupcake

Mmmm!

Home-made buns with jam & clotted cream? Say no more!

Bristol is going to be so much fun!

AND WHAT ABOUT BATH?

The Pump Room in Bath.
The Pump Room in Bath.

Bath is going to be an architectural feast. What with it’s impressive showcase of Georgian architecture, the heaving bosoms of Jane Austen and the steaming remains of Britain’s Roman spas, I’m just going to have to leave the details for another post!

@Chris Bahn
@Chris Bahn

This article is not sponsored and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Visit Bristol and given press passes for Visit Bath, all opinions and the streaky bacon and sausages that I’ll take absolute pleasure in noshing, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so I will be writing about my trip to Bristol & Bath when I actually return!

Next week, I will tell you about our fleeting visit to an intriguing German town – Osnabrück – the hometown of my German husband!

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night is going to have it’s last show of the year on 04.11.15 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin. They’ll also be serving free baby margaritas!

The German public premier of James Bond’s Spectre is on 05.11.15. We’re all very excited as not only is the new James Bond film finally out, but Christoph Waltz who is the baddy, actually lives in Berlin. In fact, The Music Producer brushed past him on the stairs a couple of years ago, and was freaking out!

@VisitBritain - Simon Winnall
@VisitBritain – Simon Winnall

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re going to Bristol or Bath, let me know!

November is going to be crisp & foggy!

Watch this space!

My second glorious press trip to England. Yes, I’m going to Bristol & Bath. Yippee!

Have you ever been on a press trip? Would you like to visit Bristol?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw – How to make pierogi and eat it!

The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw - How to make pierogi and eat it!
The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw – How to make pierogi and eat it!

I had a jolly good time in Warsaw and even though I spent just four (4) days there, I seem to have touched on rather a lot of things to do and an astonishing amount of things to eat.

Oh yes sir!

Grilled sausages with fried cabbage in Warsaw!
Grilled sausages with fried cabbage in Warsaw!

Now let’s be truthful, Polish cuisine like German cuisine, has a reputation of being rather stodgy so there’s no getting away from that but that isn’t everything. As I told you a few weeks ago, Poland is an old country dating back from 966 and is enormously proud of its historic roots as well as it’s post-communist background. It has also been heavily influenced by it’s neighbours such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia (not Slovenia), the Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and Italy.

At the bar! Shots and cocktails galore!
At the bar!
Shots and cocktails galore!

During the short time that I spent in Warsaw, I managed to find a couple of bars. Most of them dark and dingy, but selling vodka shots from 2 PLN or €0.47 to 4 PLN or €0.94!

I’m a cultured lady but living in Prague taught me the virtues of vodka.

Hell! When I used to live in Prague. I was forced.

Forced!

To have a bottle of beer AND a shot of vodka with my habitual cup of tea, every morning!

Warsaw Pub Crawl, Poland.
Warsaw Pub Crawl, Poland.

Travelling solo means that you can spend a bit more time with other people rather than with your loved ones so I reached out to the oldest Warsaw Pub Crawl group who very kindly asked me to be their guest, so I hopped along with one of their groups.

We were a group of about 30 revellers, possibly more. I lost count after the first cocktail..!

Our meeting point was the palm tree on Jerusalem Avenue and then we were accompanied by 3 party leaders including Kamil a tall, lanky fellow, who is the brainchild behind Warsaw Pub Crawl. I hung out with two (2) lovely girls from Cardiff and a few German students from Leipzig. Our group also had a bunch of happy-go-lucky and should-we-or-shouldn’t-we Australian bankers (I think!) and a couple of Brits! The Australians sort of kept wandering off so it was difficult to pin any of them down for a chat!

WHAT DO I REMEMBER ABOUT THE WARSAW PUB CRAWL?

Bar Crawling!
Bar Crawling!

Well, our group was really nice and friendly and our first stop was a local bar under the arches of a train station. You got two drinks on the house so I had a vodka & lemon cocktail. Not of the fashion week variety of course, but good enough to get the juices flowing. We were given vodka shots and a flashing armband. It was pretty early in the evening so I was able to chat to the Welsh girls who told me that they found Warsaw drinks expensive!

I couldn’t believe it. How so?!

Tasting Czech Beer.
Tasting Czech Beer.

I’ve been to Cardiff and Wales, and I don’t remember drinks being anywhere as cheap as Polish beers.

Apparently, beers in Cardiff were cheaper than the 5 or 6 PLN (€1.10 or €1.40) pints being bandied about. In Cardiff beers were under 5 PLN!

We went to a nicer bar in a basement. I quite liked it and you could get a discount on drinks with the armband. I stuck to buying shots and we got a shot on the house. In fact, in every bar we went to, we got free shots.

Then we went to a club. The music was fine, I danced a little, took part in some drinking games and had two (2) small beers.

Mixing is not a good idea!

Whoop! Whoop! Warsaw Pub Crawl with some of the girls!
Whoop! Whoop! Warsaw Pub Crawl with some of the girls!

At about 01:40, I made my way back to my hotel which was just 4 metro stops away and fell asleep with an empty cup of tea in my hand. At least, I hope it was empty!

MY VERDICT?

A fun night out!

Tickets for Warsaw Pub Crawl are €14.00 or 60 PLN.

Approximate pub crawl time: As long as you like!

HOW TO MAKE PIEROGI WITH POLISH YOUR COOKING

Delicious pierogi made from my own fair hands in Warsaw!
Delicious pierogi made from my own fair hands in Warsaw!

It’s nice to know that I didn’t spend all my time drowning in vodka but also something culturally useful so Polish your Cooking bravely offered to teach me how to master Polish culinary skills in a fun and casual atmosphere.

Polish your Cooking is a Polish cookery school that caters and connects all manner of people ranging from individual tourists to corporate team-building workshops and private events.

After my night of debauchery, I managed to drag myself out of bed, have a hot shower, get myself a couple of tea cups, do small-talk over breakfast, and attempt some form of packing before getting myself to the cooking school venue.

Brain-food full of energy. And breakfast at Autor Rooms.
Brain-food full of energy. And breakfast at Autor Rooms.

I had previously planned to walk it but I didn’t have the heart or the energy level for it!

Polish your Cooking is based on the ground floor of a smart business building and my class had 5 British lads, 1 German lady, 1 Polish lady, and myself.

The class was fantastic!

Chef Michał Piosik of Polish Your Cooking in Warsaw.
Chef Michał Piosik of Polish Your Cooking in Warsaw.

Our chef and teacher was the owner of the cookery school itself  – Chef Michał Piosik – a jolly 20-something man, an ex-banker and a person with a strong passion for food, Polish cuisine and excellent people skills! I found him to be extremely funny and very laid-back.

We started with a delightful spread of traditional starters such as Polish cold cuts, cheeses, sauces and a variety of interesting staples such as horse-radish bread. All well needed as the British lads with us, a group of ex-university friends on a stag weekend, had at least 3 of the young men, slightly worse for wear!

A delightful array of sauces in Warsaw.
A delightful array of sauces in Warsaw.

My chosen class was Pierogi Grandma Style so we learnt a little bit about the background of meat and bread in Poland, that vegetables originally came from Italy in the 16th century, vodka of course originated from Russia in the 11th/12th century and the dumplings, thick sauces and potatoes, originated from Austria and the Czech Republic. Pierogi is a dumpling popular in every Slavic country and stuffed with some sort of offal or vegetable and considered food for peasants.

After our buffet snack, we were put around a cooking table with stoves, pots, pans, and culinary equipment and then the cooking began. I was paired with David from Bristol. Quite easy to remember as in the British group 3 of the 5 lads were also called David!

Me pretending I know exactly what I'm doing in a Polish kitchen!
Me pretending I know exactly what I’m doing in a Polish kitchen!

Anyway, we spent some considerable time mixing our ingredients, kneading our dough and frying our beef, onions and an array of interesting spices.

We then made our dough and split them into dumplings stuffed with beef and pork or dumplings stuffed with cheese. Incredibly, I also got to learn how the dumplings are shaped in their patterns. It wasn’t easy but I managed it!

Shots of vodka in Warsaw.
Shots of vodka in Warsaw.

Of course, it was important to take a break with rounds of vodka. Michał took pains to ensure that we tasted them all, except for a nutty one! After all what’s a bit of work if you can’t have a tipple on the side LOL!

My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.
My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.

After an hour or so, we were able to settle down into a delicious meal of pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, scooped over with sour cream, and sprinkled with parsley.

Nom! Nom!

And then.

Yummy dessert in Warsaw.
Yummy dessert in Warsaw.

There was dessert too.

OMG!

Slices of apple strudel and cream cheese pie accompanied by strawberries sprinkled with castor sugar. Delish!

Not only that but after many hugs and shaking of hands, we also got a certificate and a flat wooden oar-like spoon.

MY VERDICT?

What a marvellous day!

Tickets for Polish your Cooking in Warsaw are €48.00 or 199 PLN.

Approximate class time: Roughly 3.5 – 4 hours.

Pickled herrings in spicy oil in Warsaw.
Pickled herrings in spicy oil in Warsaw.

Last week, I promised to tell you about the milk bars so let’s get it on!

A MILK BAR

Buckwheat grains at a milk bar in Poland!
Buckwheat grains at a milk bar in Poland!

What the hell is a milk bar?

Is it some sort of strawberry shake?

Or worse, a real dingy whisky bar!

vodka at a dingy bar in Warsaw.
vodka at a dingy bar in Warsaw.

No, my good man. The milk bar stems historically from the 19th / 20th century when poor landowners attempted to establish dairies and devour cheap eats such as curds, buttermilk and dumplings in Warsaw.

After WWII, a milk bar was the only place in which the locals could find cheap nutritious food. The milk bar quickly became supported by the communists as a thing for the working classes and by 1948 was firmly established as an ideal place of gastronomic refuge for those who had lost their homes and kitchens.

Pickled beetroot.
Pickled beetroot.

I went to two (2) milk bars and I can tell you that “authentic” milk bars are fairly simply furnished with school-canteen-like wooden tables, plastic chairs and plastic flowers. The menu is also simple and plain with rustic back-to-the-basics items such as dumplings, pancakes, noodles and soup.

My first (1st) night in Warsaw was at the Patchwork Design Hostel as Autor Rooms only had availability for three (3) nights. And let me tell you, I know why I prefer to book a private room. This hostel was quite nice and quiet and the area was great being just on a side corner of Nowy Świat but even so, the walls were paper-thin as I could hear my neighbours’ talking, making telephone calls and “other things!”

All night long!

Oh, and one of the girls’ had vomited in the bathroom sink!

Quite nauseating!

Being sick sucks! ©2010-2015 forgotten-light
Being sick sucks! ©2010-2015 forgotten-light

So as you can imagine, I didn’t bother to use the shower facilities and just wanted to check out as quickly as possible. The staff at the Patchwork Design Hostel were lovely and very helpful though. On the evening that I had arrived, I asked one of the young ladies if she could recommend somewhere local.

She did.

She looked me straight in the eye and then wrote an address on a piece of paper. I had my evening meal at a milk bar, and I didn’t even know it!

Bar Mleczny Familijny - a milk bar in Warsaw.
Bar Mleczny Familijny – a milk bar in Warsaw. @Hektic Travel

The milk bar that I went to by myself was on the bohemian mecca of Nowy Świat 39 and was called Bar Mleczny Familijny.

At first glance, it looked like nothing at all. In fact, if I hadn’t been given the address, I would probably have walked passed it!

It was my first evening so I opened the door and walked in. All eyes swiveled towards me but I strode on and carried on with the business of trying to decipher what the menu on the wall actually meant LOL! I had forgotten that everything would be in Polish and there were no pictures to help me.

Gulp!

Bar Mleczny Familijny - a milk bar in Warsaw. @Hektic Travel
Bar Mleczny Familijny – a milk bar in Warsaw. @Hektic Travel

I nevertheless, went to the cashier and was prepared to use my non-verbal acting skills when she pushed a plastic card towards me. It had a list of all possible meals in Polish and their English & French translations, but not necessarily of the things on the wall!

I however, went on to pick the Polish words that I recognised on the wall such as zupy & pierozki and attempted to find the equivalent on this plastic sheet. In the end I settled for beetroot soup with an egg, and breaded chicken with mashed potatoes and coleslaw.

Awful beetroot soup with a boiled egg in it at Bar Mleczny Familijny - a milk bar in Warsaw!
Awful beetroot soup with a boiled egg in it at Bar Mleczny Familijny – a milk bar in Warsaw!

Ummm!

I normally really like borscht but this must have been the worst beetroot soup that I have ever eaten as it was extremely salty. I liked the boiled egg though but after three (3) attempted ladylike sips, I gave up. The breaded chicken was much better and I completely cleared my plate.

Everyone watched me do so LOL!

I wasn’t going to give up so easily and went back a second (2nd) time. For lunch.

Breaded fish fillet with coleslaw at Bar Mleczny Familijny - a milk bar in Warsaw.
Breaded fish fillet with coleslaw at Bar Mleczny Familijny – a milk bar in Warsaw.

This time, the milk bar was packed with about forty (40) girl scouts and their scout leaders AND various other local customers, but I knew what to do and was better prepared.

I was also able to have a peek at the local customers and the kitchen itself.

The milk bar is frequented by Polish people from all walks of life and all ages. I saw someone who looked liked a professor ordering a meal to take-away, retired people, the school-aged kids and some university students eating a meal with their friends.

As for the kitchen.

Don’t look!

There were huge metal containers of mashed potatoes, shelled boiled eggs and frying pans sizzling with hot oil. I observed one of the “dinner ladies” take my breaded fish, scoop it up from the frying pan with the oil dripping on the floor, and carry it from one side of the kitchen to the other. And then whip it on my plate.

I had mashed potatoes sprinkled with dill, breaded fish fillet with coleslaw and a custard pudding. Cost: 14.50 PLN or €3.40!

Mashed potatoes sprinkled with dill, breaded fish fillet with coleslaw and a custard pudding at Bar Mleczny Familijny - a mik bar - in Warsaw.
Mashed potatoes sprinkled with dill, breaded fish fillet with coleslaw and a custard pudding at Bar Mleczny Familijny – a milk bar – in Warsaw.

The food was tasty though!

No fancy staff. Apron on hips. Socks on her feet. Gossip in the air. Don’t waste my time.

Next please!

Beetroot sauce, buckwheat grains, and some very hard crackling (I think) at Bar Ząbkowski - a milk bar - in Warsaw.
Beetroot sauce, buckwheat grains, and some very hard crackling (I think) at Bar Ząbkowski – a milk bar – in Warsaw.

If that scared you then let me tell you about the milk bar that I went to with Maja from Adventure Warsaw, which was rather more pleasant and nicer. The concept was similar but the space was larger and brighter. I didn’t see the kitchens but I’m assuming that they were probably cleaner!

We had buckwheat grains, beetroot sauce, bigos, pierogi and potato pancake.

I don't usually eat potato pancakes as I don't like them! But in Warsaw, I was willing to give 'em a try!
I don’t usually eat potato pancakes as I don’t like them! But in Warsaw, I was willing to give ’em a try!

This milk bar was called Bar Ząbkowski and the food was hugely better! I tried to find this milk bar again but I couldn’t remember the address at the time LOL!

Well worth it though.

Most meals in both milk bars start from 0.60 PLN or €0.14 to 12 PLN or €2.80. You really won’t starve and can afford to eat a large variety of dishes as I did!

Well, this post is long enough so that’s pretty much it!

See you next week!

Waffles. What can I say?! @bravetart.com
Waffles. What can I say?! @bravetart.com

This post is not sponsored and even though I was a guest of Warsaw Pub Crawl and Polish your Cooking all opinions and the scrummy pierogi I made, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.
Stay tuned!

In November, I’ll be going to Bristol & Bath and in December, I’ll be taking part in The Best of Berlin in 48 Hours campaign.

Yay!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re going to Bristol or Bath, let me know!

October is going to be showery!

The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw - How to make pierogi and eat it!
The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw – How to make pierogi and eat it!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw - How to make pierogi and eat it!
The secret of eating & drinking in Warsaw – How to make pierogi and eat it!

Do you like Polish food? Have you ever been on a pub crawl?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Don’t just stand there – 23 Reasons to Do It in Warsaw!

A genuine classic Nysa 1968 Polish van - Adventure Warsaw.
A genuine classic Nysa 1968 Polish van – Adventure Warsaw.

I really went to Warsaw.

In Poland.

Now, I’ve said it before and I’m likely to say it again but Warsaw isn’t a traditional destination by any means, but it nevertheless intrigued me.

Warsaw made me wonder why I hadn’t previously gone there before.

And why not?

Just because!

Let me explain.

BREAD & BUTTER CONNECT summer 2013

Just because a city isn’t pretty, isn’t trendy, isn’t in, is not a reason to bypass a place and I’m as guilty as the next person. I mean, I’ve been going to Poland since the 90’s and not once did it occur to me to go to Warsaw – the capital of Poland!

Not even once!

Well, my visit last week changed all that so I’m going to tell you why YOU ought to go visit.

So don’t just stand there, let’s do it!

There’s plenty to do in Warsaw so let’s..

Polish fishermen on the Polish Baltic Sea who did fabulously well. :-)
Polish fishermen on the Polish Baltic Sea who did fabulously well. 🙂
  1. Just walk around and do some people watching. It’s always interesting to see the way local people look, dress and act.
  2. Go on a free walking tour.
  3. Take photographs of the Warsaw mermaid.
  4. Check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited.
  5. Wander around Nowy Świat and go for a few drinks and a snack.
  6. Dress up, go fancy and go posh on Motokowska Street.
  7. Bump into Polish celebrities and do a bit of shopping in expensive boutiques of Polish design.
  8. Have a few elegant drinks and a cocktail whilst on an elegant stroll down Foksal Street.
  9. Go for stodge and stuff yourself with grilled Polish sausages and a glass of Spanish red wine!
  10. Jump on the metro underground train and take it to the end of the line!
  11. Listen to the music of angst-ridden Chopin at the Fryderyk Chopin Museum.
  12. Be amazed by the Old Town.
  13. Take scenic photographs from the Royal Castle.
  14. Go to the National Museum, the Modern Art Museums and as many museums as you can muster.
  15. Nibble on a Polish dessert sold as Polish street food.
  16. Investigate the re-constructed socialist project of Marszalkowska Street.
  17. Take a photo of the famous palm tree on Jerusalem Avenue.
  18. Glide down the historical centre of Warsaw depicting the tradition and glamour of Old Warsaw that is on Poznanska Street.
  19. Go to a beach bar. They’re all closed for the winter but I image if you brought your own stuff no one would mind LOL!
  20. Breath in the fresh air and take a very long walk on the Warsaw riverside and if you’re that way inclined, hire a rowing boat or a canoe.
  21. Visit the beautiful Łazienki Królewskie Palace-Garden.
  22. Be impressed by Warsaw’s Old Town Market Place and the Keeper of the Square – Wario Wojciech – who can often be seen in his traditional clothing of a red suit and brandishing a curved sword!
  23. Explore the urban history and architecture of Warsaw.
Urban Warsaw. Photo @Maija Kunnas.
Urban Warsaw.
Photo @Maija Kunnas.

It’s perfectly alright to explore on one’s own but I personally find it useful to use the skills of an expert local, to get my bearings. This time around I used the excellent services of Adventure Warsaw.

Adventure Warsaw is a non-formal urban off-the-beaten-track sightseeing tour company. They very kindly invited me to be their guest on one of their tours. I picked their most popular Off the beaten path trip and I was enormously lucky that only one other person beside myself, was on the trip – a middle-aged Australian woman on a solo European trip around Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. She chose well LOL!

Thank you so much!

Maja - our guide & Marek - our driver from Adventure Warsaw.
Maja – our guide & Marek – our driver from Adventure Warsaw.

Our guide was a young lady called Maja and our driver was a jolly fellow with an old Geordie (Newcastle) working man’s cap, called Marek. At a distance he could have been mistaken for being English LOL!

The weather was surprisingly that of a golden Autumn and more than once, I found myself overdressed. Happily, I had on layers and could strip whenever the need arose, but in most cases I didn’t. Because of my hair.

Yes, my hair!

It takes an awful long time to get everything into place!

Pathetic!

I know!

Jesus in Warsaw.
Jesus in Warsaw.

Anyway, Maja was well-informed and she introduced us to post-World War Warsaw by showing us the statutes and architecture of the socialist regime and the power of communist Russia, as well as the deviance of the predominately Catholic church and its hidden chapels.

Maja taught us about the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 after which sadly, 80% of Warsaw was flattened and destroyed. This made me aware of why we all think that Warsaw is ugly. Mainly because the history and culture of Warsaw disappeared but it seems not entirely. Yes, the communist era took over and yes, Poland became a part of the Iron Curtain BUT they were never inculcated into the USSR and like the Czech Republic, Hungary and East Germany, they still had their own state and “government.” They weren’t free but they weren’t dead either as we saw in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) Museum.

Communist vodka & Jaffa cakes at the People's Republic of Poland (PRL) Museum in Warsaw!
Communist vodka & Jaffa cakes at the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) Museum in Warsaw!

The days after 1945 were extremely difficult but they managed, and they coped. We saw the reality of bygone Communism as well as their furniture and clothing at that time. We even got to try out some of their local snacks and local drink. No wonder they took to vodka. It was pretty grim living!

After that, we walked to the Warsaw University of Technology as the interior historical halls are part of the tour however, the area was blocked with men-in-black and people with colourful clothing with instruments. And scarves!

Maja wanted to go on but as soon as I saw this, I jumped out of the van!

This is what travelling is all about.

The unexpected.

The unplanned.

I had a chat with some of the people wearing traditional clothing. They were students and their clothes were of the native variety in Southern Poland.

I asked to stay with them for a little while and we chatted and took photographs. We even attempted to do a bit of a jig.

They.

Not I.

Right in the middle of a Polish jig. In Warsaw!
Right in the middle of a Polish jig. In Warsaw!

I just shocked everyone and jumped right in the middle of them LOL!

Proszę!

Moving on, we visited the artistic Praga neighbourhood which for many years was a forgotten area. Now, it’s a bit like how Kreuzberg used to be when I first moved to Berlin, jam-packed with melancholic artists, young pacifists, a very low-budget and a non-conformist way of living.

Praga today is considered a more authentic Warsaw with an artistic alternative lifestyle and generally worth visiting!

A black and white potrait of the sufferings of the concentration camps at Auschwitz. Courtesy of the Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
A black and white portrait of the sufferings of the concentration camps at Auschwitz.
Courtesy of the Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

We then went onto what was previously, Jewish Warsaw. Or rather what was left of it. Basically, one street.

Poland is not to blame of course but the fact is, one cannot speak of Polish Jewish history without the understanding and acknowledgement that Poland had the worst and most horrifying Jewish concentration camp in the history of Nazi Germany – Auschwitz.

A large number of Polish Jews were taken from Warsaw.

Thankfully, history has not forgotten as Warsaw just like Berlin, has a most wonderful museum of remembrance and commiseration called the Museum of the History of Polish jews (POLIN) which was not part of this tour but which I visited on my own a few days later. I recommend it highly.

Oh yeah, did I tell you that this trip was not a walking tour, you know how much I love a good walk, but a means in which you could hop around town in a genuine classic Nysa 1968 Polish van!

I don't usually eat potato pancakes as I don't like them! But in Warsaw, I was willing to give 'em a try!
I don’t usually eat potato pancakes as I don’t like them! But in Warsaw, I was willing to give ’em a try!

And then, what I consider a grand finale of sorts, we were taken to a milk bar.

In all my twenty (20) odd years of going to Poland, I had never ever heard of a milk bar.

You see.

Every day, you can still live and learn LOL!

But what the hell is a milk bar? Is it some sort of strawberry shake or worse, a real dingy whisky bar!

I’m so sorry, I have so much to tell you about it that it just has to wait until next week where I reveal the secrets of eating and drinking in Warsaw!

No words needed LOL!
No words needed LOL!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND POLISH ?

Hardly at all!

The tours are in English and private tours are possible.

MY VERDICT?

I now have an inkling and the low-down of contemporary Warsaw. Totally recommended.

Very nice indeed!

Tickets for Off the beaten path trip in Warsaw are €43.00 or 169 PLN (including lunch) and reduced for students, groups and presidents!

Approximate tour time: Roughly 4 hours.

Lying down!
Lying down!

After all that, one is likely to be quite tired and weary and needing a bit of a lie-down.

My oasis in Warsaw was Autor Rooms.

Autor Rooms - The owners in Warsaw, Poland.
What a huge space at Autor Rooms!

Autor Rooms was like living at home in a huge apartment. Although it had just four rooms, the apartment was a very large space and the rooms were artistic.

I was in room 1410 which is the smallest one and had automatic curtains for privacy as the door was covered in glass and was opposite the foyer.

My bedroom in Room 1410 at Autor Rooms.
My bedroom in Room 1410 at Autor Rooms.

My room had a double bed with six (6) pillows (luxury!) one (1) artistic designed chair, two (2) side tables, plants and lilies, a free space to hang clothes (hidden), a vintage radio, and a bathroom that was sort of minimalist chic!

A hairdryer, organic shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and face masks were also supplied. There was a rain-shower covered by clear glass and a wooden sliding door for privacy. The room is good for couples or if you’re really good friends. If you’ve got kids with you, choose the other rooms, they’re much bigger and have separate doors!

Go on! Create your own space!
Go on! Create your own space!

There was free WiFi and books and items of art which you could either read, use or buy, access to a fully equipped kitchen, and fresh drinking water, as well as a variety of tea or coffee available at any time. Breakfast is supplied on demand and was delicious and a far cry from my experience of grilled Polish sausage and mustard. More about that soon!

Everyone knows each other at the Autor Rooms in Warsaw!
Everyone knows each other at the Autor Rooms in Warsaw!

Staying at Autor Rooms put me in contact with the artistic community which is quite intimate as everyone seems to know each other LOL!

I met Magda Ponagajbo who is part-owner of Autor Rooms, Lucy and Joanne. They were really nice and friendly such that Lucy invited me to spend an afternoon with her and introduced me to the neighbourhood, a peek at her friends and an insight into the “real” Warsaw. I also met some of the other guests who were artists or musicians in their own right. Many from right there in Warsaw! There was a business guy from Brazil, a musician with his young daughter who was there because his own apartment was being used to make a film, a musician, and a Polish lady who was the head of an Institute and lived a few streets from me in Berlin!

I loved everything about it. The snag? I didn’t have a table in my own room.

Where's my table?
Where’s my table?

I tend to write long in the night and even though there was a communal / dining / get-together / living room, I ended up writing on the edge of my bed or spending the evening chatting away, and watching a podcast on my laptop with one of the guests, instead of working!

Ooops!

When you book a room on-line, you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get and can only hold your breath and cross your fingers.

I didn’t know what to expect in Warsaw but it was rather pleasant!

A healthy breakfast of porridge at Autor Rooms in Warsaw.
A healthy breakfast of porridge at Autor Rooms in Warsaw.

For breakfast, I had cold cuts and salmon, a variety of vegetables and sauces, porridge and grains, as well as a variety of bread and fresh delicious blue berries. Yum!

All this from €80.00 per night which for two (2) people would be €40.00 a pop!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Absolutely!

I intend to do just that and can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it in Warsaw!

For more information about an off-the-beaten-track sightseeing tour, please contact: Adventure Warsaw.

For more information about a unique designer boutique hotel, please contact: Autor Rooms.

See you next week.

Bellotto Krakow or Cracow Suburb leading to the Castle Square in Poland. Bernardo Bellotto: a Venetian painter in Warsaw - Musée du Louvre.
Bellotto Krakow or Cracow Suburb leading to the Castle Square in Poland.
Bernardo Bellotto: a Venetian painter in Warsaw – Musée du Louvre.

This post is not sponsored and even though I was a guest of Adventure Warsaw and I received a discount on the hotel, all opinions and the artistic alternative lifestyle that I discovered, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing more about the secrets of eating and drinking in Warsaw!

In November, I’ll be going to England to visit Bristol & Bath and in December, I’ll be taking part in The Best of Berlin in 48 Hours campaign.

Exciting stuff.

Yay!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re going to Warsaw, Bristol or Bath, let me know!

October is going to be golden!

Watch this space!

23 Reasons to Do It in Warsaw!

Would you go on an alternative adventure tour? Would you sleep in a boutique hotel? Let me know.

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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