A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
Well! Well! Well!
I went to Warsaw.
To be clear, Berlin will always be my first (1st) love so nothing is going to take that away not even lovely Prague, but it’s nice to see the competition LOL!
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!
Yeah, why bother?
After all, Warsaw isn’t gorgeous like Riga. It isn’t romantic like Prague or exciting like Budapest.
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.
I was pleased to hear that Warsaw locals love visiting and living in Berlin as Berlin is a city of tolerance and individuality, but relations between Germany and Poland are still rather prickly.
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!
Book Autor Rooms or your own Warsaw Hotel here!
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 pick-pocketed 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!
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 Autumny!
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!
See you in Berlin.
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That buckwheat thing looks good and very Russian. And I love street folk performers!
Aaaah! So that’s what it was LOL! Thank you so much Anna! It was pretty grainy and I managed it but I couldn’t eat the sticky bits as they were just sticky and quite hard! Do you what they were?
Yes, it seems that Russia and Poland have similar food – the soup, the dumplings, the buckwheat, the vodka….! Do you know that we just bumped into the musicians as we were supposed to visit the Warsaw University of Technology as the building has amazing architecture, but we couldn’t? It was October 1st and they were conducting the matriculation ceremony and these kids were students from Warsaw University, performing dances and music of the motherland. They even did a bit of a jig for me LOL!
I looooove buckwheat. It’s great as a breakfast cereal with milk, and as garnish for dinner meats (I especially love it with goulash or liver).
I’m from Poland, so it was funny to read this post! However, I don’t like Warsaw so much… 🙂
Nice one Maja. Poland is a lovely country. I try to go there every 2 to 3 years as I like the Polish Baltic Sea very, very much so I’m glad that you like my posts. Warsaw isn’t for everyone of course, but it’s definitely my cup of tea LOL! 🙂
p.s. Where are you from in Poland?
I lived quite long in Toruń – have you been there? It’s a lovely medieval town! 🙂
Nope! I think I definitely have to go visit. I like medieval towns and Toruń sounds delightful! 🙂
it is! 🙂 I can highly recommend it, maybe a trip to the north, Toruń, Malbork, up to Gdańsk. 🙂
Totally! I love Northern Poland as that is where I usually visit when I go to the Baltic Sea. I’ve been to Gdańsk many times though but last year, I went to Makbork for the very first time. I was impressed by the castle which I believe is the largest Gothic castle in the world! I’ll go to Toruń the next time I’m in Poland. Probably next year LOL!
Have fun! 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
You obviously loved it. I went there years ago and had a fab time. Need to get over there again. And I loved the dig at Cardiff. We need to be strong with our Welsh friends at the moment. They’ve smacked us in the rugby and we’re feeling a bit bruised at the moment. Look forward to next week’s post.
Thank so much Thomas! Yes, I think I did LOL! I’m just so sorry that I hadn’t visited earlier so you have to visit again soon before it all changes and becomes blasé!
Yeah, Cardiff. I met some Welsh girls out there. They were lovely but the Rugby. The rugby!
I love the photos– Patchwork Design Hotel looks gorgeous!! I admit, I’m intrigued about the milk bar… cant wait to read about it in the next post 🙂 Have a great time in Warsaw!
Thanks very much Luda! I’m glad that you like my post. 🙂 Just to clarify, Patch Design is the budget hostel that I stayed at for a night but Autor Rooms was the quirky boutique which I agree with you, is totally gorgeous.
More about the milk bar very, very soon. 🙂 🙂
Thank you for the Warsaw intro! I’ve always imagined Warsaw to be a bit like that city in the Hostel horror movies:) Sounds like a cool place to visit and a great opportunity to experience Eastern Europe as it used to be. Good to hear that the pickpockets didn’t succeed. Looking forward to read about the milk bars:)
PS: Tried to leave a comment yesterday, but it wasn’t possible.
Thanks very much Mitzie Mee! I think we all have our versions of Warsaw and they’re not always so pleasant…but all the more reason to visit and see for ourselves LOL! Warsaw is rather intriguing and Eastern Europe as a whole is pretty amazing.
The milkbars were fun but I’m so glad that the pickpockets didn’t put a damper on my trip. 🙂
p.s. I’ve just put a test comment on my blog. ‘Hope it works? The work of ghosts perhaps! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
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Great low-down on Warsaw Victoria! I Looooove the city, I was only there for a day unfortunately but I liked what I saw and felt immediately, but I think I’d feel this way about pretty much anywhere in Poland! As you said, it’s not an all together pretty city (aside from the Old Town which is certainly very beautiful) however, what it lacks in elegance it makes up for in character.
Glad you had such a fabulous time!
Thank you so much Shing! I absolutely agree. Poland is pretty alright and Warsaw is brimming over with character and personality. I really can’t wait to visit again. 🙂
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WOW I just found your blog and it made me so happy 😀
I’m also a Brit (mixed race like your son 🙂 ) and LOVE Berlin! But now I’m thinking about visiting Poland and particularly Warsaw (and Wroclaw) this summer. This was just the kind of thing I’m looking for to give me an idea of what to expect.
Thanks so much.
Now onto reading the rest of your blog. Thanks again!
Thanks so much Lawrence! I’m really pleased that you like my blog! Yay for mixed race children & Brits! 🙂 🙂
Sure go for it. Poland is a lovely country and I always enjoy going there. It isn’t the Home Counties you understand, but the countryside is lovely, the people are open and the food is delish. Poland doesn’t get a lot of people with colour and I’ve walked into many a place where the locals have been intrigued and fascinated. Just stay open, shake hands with people, buy a couple of vodka rounds (€2.00 a shot. Sometimes less) and have a ball! 🙂
If you have any questions, let me know.
p.s. Where in the UK are you from?
Thanks for the encouragement!
And you’re so right about staying open – so I’m headed for Poland and Prague this August, maybe one of the Baltics 😀 Can’t wait. I see you liked Prague? Did you go to Krakow or Wroclaw?
Also, I’m from Nottingham! 😀 How about your good self?
You’re very welcome Lawrence! Poland & Prague in the summer is going to be fantastic. Read all about it on my blog! As are the Baltics. Very cheap and very small. If you’ve got time, do them all. Everybody else does! Prague-Warsaw-Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia. Are you going by train or coach-bus? Book ahead, then it’s peanuts! 🙂
I’m flying to Amsterdam then on to Prague, then bus to Wroclaw and then who knows… I’m planning on booking it all ASAP, flights probably this week. Very excited!
Faaaaantastic! You’ll have a great time. Don’t forget to read my guide to Prague. Here’s the link: https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/4-days-in-prague-40-things-to-do/
And as usual, any questions about anything, let me know. Toot! Toot! 🙂
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Hi, I am glad that you liked my home town 🙂 However I would like to correct one of the pictures, which was actually taken at one of the platform of the Central Station ( Dworzec Centralny), not at metro station as described. 🙂
Thank you Kasia. I was really impressed with Warsaw! I’m surprised that more people don’t visit. Perhaps they will, after reading my posts lol!
I’ve corrected the photograph however, the stations are really nice. I found them clean, safe and easy to use! 🙂
The best milky bar is called Bambino in Warsaw, highly recommended! 🙂
Thank you Kasia. I’ll try to check it out the next time I’m in Warsaw! 🙂
The train station and coach station – Warszawa Zachodnia is located in Ochota, which at the same side of Vistula river as Airport, the train station in Praga is called Warszawa Wschodnia.
Thanks so much Kasia. I’ve corrected the transport info!
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