So it’s been an age since I last did a post on here, so for those of you who actually read it I am very sorry. My life has been hectic since I started work, when I’m not in the office or working away I’ve been sleeping, real life is tough! However I managed to break away from London and explore Eastern Europe for a weekend – definitely the perfect Autumn break!
This October my bf and I decided to take a spontaneous weekend away and booked a last minute trip to Warsaw – random I know. Many, when asking where we were going would reply with “why?”, “are you going on a stag do?”, “Poland?”. However going somewhere a little bit different, not brimming with English tourists was what we were after – a chilled weekend, filled with cake, browsing and sleep!
Having a polish bestie really does help when it comes to planning a trip to their motherland – my bff managed to get her family to give us a Warsaw lowdown and a recommendation of sights and restaurants for this time of year. I also would highly recommend a couple of Apps I found, which I don’t know what I did travelling without them – I am obsessed. Use It Warsaw and In Your Pocket were serious life- savers. Being able to use them both offline, and the map on Use It was amazing I 100% recommend and they have made them for other cities too.
People’s initial views of Poland are: grey, poor and bland but Warsaw really opened my eyes to what Eastern Europe has to offer. Although I wouldn’t recommend the food – personally way too much grey meat and dough/boiled dumplings for my liking but the cakes and doughnuts (a Warsaw speciality) I may have over indulged in, resulting in a serious detox this week!
It’s the perfect place for a weekend break, cool bars with an underground vibe, cute little cafes and vast parks mean there is enough to explore on a mini break yet it’s not big enough for you to feel lost.
I would say that Warsaw is one of those cities where you need to know which neighbourhoods to explore as well as a few key bars and restaurants to go to. Many neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city still show signs of the communist soviet days as well as the impact of WWII when they housed the Jewish Ghettos. Even though these areas, especially Praga are becoming the hipster place to hang I didn’t feel that safe their and I would recommend knowing your destination as well as using genuine taxis at night.
There are some must see sights in Praga though, make sure you check out the Neon Museum – an exhibition of Poland’s cold war era neon signs. They’re amazing to see and can really take you back into this cold war era.
The neighbourhood next door Sasa Kepa is quite the opposite to Praga, it’s cosy and bustling with cafes and restaurants down the main strip of Francuska make sure you check out Irena for florentines and Lukullus for a cappuccino and pastry.
After the many dough based products take a wonder around the city centre, a mixture of amazing new architecture is scattered amongst soviet towers and “old” buildings (re-built after WWII).
An amazing place to take in the Warsaw skyline is from the roof top garden of the Green Library (and it’s free!), even in the Autumn it’s an amazing place to wander and escape the buzz.
From here you can see right over to the Old and the New Town. Tourist hot spots so somewhere to briefly visit and get the feel of what Warsaw would have been like if the war hadn’t completely destroyed the city. The area makes you feel like you’re in a traditional eastern european town all quaint coloured buildings and cobbled streets.
We were there taking a lot of pictures – you have to do the tourist bit!
There’s an amazing tea shop in the belfry of a church in the new town, To Lubei, – a must stop for a monk tea (delicious vanilla and jasmine) and an apple crumble. The staff were lovely, and considering I could not speak let alone understand a word of polish they were very helpful and made the effort to speak in English. It was a great place to stop, warm up and plan our next little adventure around the city.
Warsaw is connected by a pretty good tram system which is very cheap (about £7 for a 3 day ticket) this made our lives a hell of a lot easier. You can easily move between neighbourhoods in minutes, Warsaw is your oyster.
Jump on a tram and head to Plac Zbawiciela for a bite to eat and a shot of vodka or two. This is apparently the trendy area where the young crowd of Warsaw go in the evening to casually drink the night away. Check out Charlotte a cake shop in the day and a Wine bar/sandwich bar at night, it’s got a laid back vibe but was pretty busy on a saturday night. If you’re looking for a cooler vibe head to Plan B next door, this graffiti’d loft bar was buzzing.
For an even cooler bar head to the other side of the city to Warszawa Powiśle a disused train station which is now a bar and music venue. With cheap drinks and pretty good DJs it’s a good place to mix with the local crowd.
So that’s Warsaw – a pretty cool underground city which will probably take over from Berlin as a cultural centre for young people. If you’re wanting a weekend away somewhere a little bit different with as few English people as possible then this is the place to go.