Charm of little towns

Do you like little towns? We love them and we are actually planning to make much more investigation on them in the near future. In the meantime some lovely photos from Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą – one of my favourite places in Poland.
It’s small, cosy and cute and absolutely perfect for a nice weekend. As a teenager, I went there on my first no parents summer trip. Great memories…. :)

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I love these characteristic wooden roofs, don’t they just make everything so much more romantic?

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I have been so many times in Kazimierz but to be honest I don’t think I have ever eaten in a restaurant there. When I was camping with friends we were happy with more or less anything (mostly the kitchen of my friends parents who had their summer cottage there) but I promise to go back soon and make a proper investigation for you. The cafes look great though and are always full, in and out of the season.

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In Poland Krakow is known as artist towns – many of them, especially painters, come here to look for inspiration. And who wouldn’t be with this wonderful nature?

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So come yourself and enjoy :)

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Photo credits: Hejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDHejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDHejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDHejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDHejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDPolandMFA / Foter / CC BY-NDHejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDMariusz_Kucharczyk / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDJeroen Fossaert / Foter / CC BY-SA

It’s not too late for ice-cream yet…

I know I should have shared this with you at least few weeks ago but like they say, better later than never.
I am not a big ice-cream lover, in fact I may be the first person you have heard of that doesn’t really like them… Yes, it is possible. So if I actually happen to like an ice-cream that means they must be quite incredible.

sorbetsFew weeks ago I read an interview with a wife of Poland’s notable patisserie chef. They operate their own ice-cream factory for mass production and some local pastry cafés across Poland for more homemade products.

In the interview she told a story of one of their customers who came back to their shop to ‘complain’ that during a dinner she gave to her French guests they found a pip in their lemon sorbets. And how proud she was when the French people surprisingly asked if they make ice-creams with real lemons in Poland.
This little anecdote convinced me completely and I finally made it to this ice-cream heaven, Lodziarnia Grycan, with my sister Marta and our lovely cousin Ola.
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The place itself is nothing special, just a typical, slightly boring, slightly modern, kind of lost-somewhere-in-mid-90s type café but their ice-creams are, indeed, the best you can get in this part of the world. Creamy, rich, not too sweet – they still make ice-cream with real ingredients in Poland and they are so good that even I could eat them almost every day.
I was also very surprised with their sorbets, too. I never thought I would like any to be honest but the strawberry one I had at ‘Grycan’ was simply perfect!

For locations in Poland check here.

Italy and ice-creams – is there a anything in this world which works better? Every real Italian will take you to their favourite pasticceria to buy you few scoops of gelato after a good lunch. Or when trying to impress a girl on their first date. Or without any particular reason really…

Even I managed to find a place that overcame my little ice-cream phobia there.
Gelateria Buosi (via Veratti, 12) in Varese, again a family business, makes their products in hundreds of flavours according to ancient receipts and keeps the highest standards of quality where each ingredient is carefully sourced. And the results are, of course, quite incredible, enough to keep me coming back each time I am in the ‘wider’ neighbourhood. As no other ice-cream tastes the same after you tried Buosi!

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Those who like chocolate will like Pasticceria Buosi as well and their wonderful chocolate creations, among which my favourite drink – buosino, a combination of coffee, milk and chocolate. I mentioned it one of my older posts about breakfast places.

So hurry up, book your trip and enjoy before you can.

Paris is always a good idea.

Always and in any seasons but there is nothing better than an autumn weekend in Paris. See you there!

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Here you can find few ideas what to do in Paris in Autumn.

And here more Paris photos by Monika.

Photo credits: @Jasmin / Foter / CC BY-NC-SArunintherain / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAjohn-aïves-1946 / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDWorld-wide-gifts.com / Foter / CC BY-SA,  john-aïves-1946 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Checking coffee in Warsaw

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Thanks to my sister, Marta, I have recently been introduced to a new trend of making coffee. Since I lived in Italy I always thought that the only way of enjoying your coffee was having it dark roasted and really, really strong. The most fashionable espressos are still, fortunately, very strong but are made with lightly roasted beans to bring the real coffee flavour and its natural acidity.
I am completely converted to this new method; almost believe it’s worth buying a ticket to Warsaw to try some of those extra strong and extra flavoursome coffees. Below few suggestions to you where to start if you want to check yourself:

  1. Filtry (Niemcewicza 3) – Marta’s favourite café. Little, cute, off the beaten track and a perfect place to start your weekend. They are so crazy about their coffee that they run a regular blog to inform its clients (and fans) where their blends come from and who roasted them.
  2. SAM (Lipowa 7a) – and this is currently my favourite place in Warsaw. Cool but not pretentious, with great food and probably the best bread in Poland (available to take away as well). It’s quite close to the University Library (a building worth checking as well) in a nice, fashionably run down street in Powiśle. I love the eclectic mixture of people they attract – students, hipster mums with their even more hipster babies, businessmen looking for a bite for lunch, few lost tourists, few celebrities and all those who know what’s going in Warsaw nowadays. It’s probably as close to my ideal café at the moment as it gets – my criteria change often though…
  3. Kubek w kubek (Grażyny 16) – my latest discovery. The street where it’s located reminds me a bit of Krakow (not the historical centre, rather those quirky streets somewhere off Karmelicka) but it’s not the main reason why I go there. Date where the coffee was roasted is marked on the board at the board along with its flavour – for me it tastes of coffee rather than citrus, chocolate and nuts though. Great lunches at great prices, nice cakes (including gluten-free options) and completely relaxing atmosphere.
  4.  MiTo (Waryńskiego 28) – some say it’s best coffee in Warsaw at the moment. The place itself is bit cold and modern for my taste (with some seriously disturbing modern art) but their coffee is definitely worth trying.
  5. Relaks (Puławska 48) – maybe not the most friendly place on earth, not my sort of atmosphere but their espressos have probably the purest taste of coffee I have ever experienced! So despite being slightly afraid of their baristas (I have a feeling they will tell me off one day for using sugar with their perfect coffees) I will be coming back and I advise you the same. Plus they are steps away from my favourite burger places – more details here.
  6. Kafka (Oboźna 3) – reminds me of my first trips to Warsaw where I didn’t know that much of the city. It lost its charm a bit now but their coffees are still perfect and their deckchairs the most comfortable in the whole city!

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Together with Marta with are working very hard to check other places in Warsaw so watch this space in the future.

Photo credits: Kuba Bożanowski / Foter / CC BY

Secrets of summer Warsaw

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I have been thinking recently what makes it so special for me in Poland, so relaxed, worry free, easy-going… Is it my childhood memories, nostology for places I can’t see that often any more or simply the fact I am always surrounded by friends and family when I am there? A bit of all these probably but I found another reason for my good mood in Poland in an interview with a Dutch musician living in Warsaw. As many others he came to Poland for few weeks only but somehow it’s 2nd year now and he is not leaving. Why? He says it’s this Polish honesty and ignorance of ‘political correctness’, people tell you what they feel about you (and everyone else) and you know that if they like you it’s genuine. Otherwise they would tell you.
So if you are bored of everyday correctness (I am not saying it’s not useful, it’s just everyone needs some time off) and want something new and exciting come to spend few days in Warsaw this summer.

I know it’s probably not your first choice, Warsaw doesn’t seem to be the most glamorous place on earth and it’s not your typical summer destination but trust me it’s the best time to (re)discover it. It’s a place constantly changing, trying to define its new identity and re-connect with its past and pre-war glory. Warsaw is like one of those people who are not naturally beautiful and because of that they have to work harder to be attractive.

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I came a long way from ignoring it, complaining about its urban chaos to actually falling in love with it. I can’t stop wondering how much this city changes and how lucky it is with all those young people who want to change it.
If you want to come and experience it all yourself (just be careful not to stay forever!) below few places you should check:

1. I have a new favourite café in Poland – SAM (ul. Lipowa 7). A great place to mix with the young and beautiful, eat the ‘trendiest’ food and try the best Polish bread (available to take away as well).
2. Need some time off? Go to Park Ujazdowski – one of the nicest parks in Warsaw. If you are lucky (and quick) and may even spend an afternoon relaxing in one of the hammocks hung in front of the Ujazdów Castle. One of my favourite Warsaw restaurants, Qchania Artstyczna, is located on the other side of the castle if you need some nibbles while your are resting too..
3. Many people in Poland, especially students, start their days with a ‘drożdżówka’. I know that probably none of you there can’t really pronounce it but trust me it’s better than it sounds. Drożdżówka is a type of yeast bun with seasonal fruits inside and lots of sweet crumbles on top. In summer we eat them with wild blueberries (they even have their name – jagodzianki) or strawberries, in other seasons you can find cherry, apple or even cheese versions. I have recently discovered a place in Warsaw which, in my opinion, makes the best drożdżówki on the planet – La Vanille (Krucza 16/22). Buy their blueberry version, order your favourite coffee and enjoy a truly Polish breakfast in the centre of Warsaw.
4. Still thinking that Italians make the best coffee in the world? Guys from MiTo (ul. Ludwika Waryńskiego 28) will stand for any challenge to prove that Polish espresso has nothing to compare to. Relaks (Puławska 48) has a similar orthodox approach to coffee (apparently it should taste of coffee only and not roasting) so if you are ready for an extreme experience you should definitely check it out! And if you get hungry on the way you can pop by to the nearby Warburger (corner of Dąbrowskiego and Puławska streets) for one of the best burgers in the city (read more about burger obsession in Warsaw here). Those who are looking for an original suveniur from Poland shouldn’t miss ReSet, a shop selling items by young Polish artists and designers, located just next door to Relaks.

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6. Have you heard that Poland is the biggest producer of strawberries in the whole world? I bet you didn’t but fruits, especially berries apparently like Polish climate of very warm days and cooler nights so if you are a fan of everything organic and natural you should have a tour of Warsaw street markets.  BioBazar (Żelazna 51/53), Hala Mirowska (Plac Mirowski 1), Koszyki (Koszykowa 63), Bazar na Polnej (Polna 13) are just a few I and Marta like to wonder around while looking for the best vegetables, flowers, pot plants, mushroom or meats. Additionally almost everywhere in Polish cities you can see small stalls, or just vans selling best produce directly from the farms, just look for them closer to residential districts. You will want to buy everything! Plus no one can beat the prices.
7. Wola is at the moment my favourite part of Warsaw and each time I go there I like it even more. Hugely impacted by war (parts of it were turned into ghetto and it was  then almost completely destroyed during the Uprising in 1944) it’s now rising again as a new business centre but not forgetting its tragic heritage. Stroll around quieter streets of Mirów, Muranów or Nowolipki to get a glimpse of real pre-war Warsaw. And if you want to learn a bit more about the history of Warsaw uprising then definitely visit the Museum of Warsaw Uprising (ul. Grzybowska 79), it’s not only one of the best museums in the city but also a great place to learn something more about less know facts from the Polish recent past.

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See you in Warsaw then and enjoy your holidays!

Photo credits - guidolo / Foter / CC BY-NDJarosław Pocztarski / Foter / CC BYpaval hadzinski / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDtrilli bagus / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND