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.
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.
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.
See you in Warsaw then and enjoy your holidays!
Photo credits - guidolo / Foter / CC BY-ND; Jarosław Pocztarski / Foter / CC BY; paval hadzinski / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND; trilli bagus / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND;