Yeah 100% you heard right I and this past weekend I rocked up to Warsaw, Poland because shockingly some people don’t know that Warsaw is in Poland.
Warsaw is a city well entrenched in history and culture. With history the first thing you think of is the city’s ties to Nazi invasion of the country during World War II, the genocide of the Polish Jewish communities and its communist ruling by the Soviet Union post WWII. It often paints this picture of Poland in general being a troubled, gloomy place to be in.
However there are many facets of Warsaw that can steer people from that. Its distinctive, uniquely high quality cuisine is a great place to start, Pierogi and Bigos are must haves. Their beer is very well made and they take huge pride in their vodka. There’s also a strong presence of nature with plenty of huge parks and greenery to explore.
Lets start recaping my first 24 hours spent in the Polish capital:
After breakfast I wasted little to no time in getting out and exploring Warsaw’s biggest sights and scenes. Most of the exploring was done through a walking tour around the old town, which was somewhat quiet as it was on a weekday I did the walking tour in.
We started off the walking tour started off at the Royal Castle. Many kings and monarch figures of Poland resided in that very castle. The castle is filled with so many well-decorated rooms, apartments and lounges such as the marble room, king’s study and the knight’s hall. They also house pictures on the ruins of the original castle after it was devastated during WWII. The version of the castle we see today was reconstructed from 1971 onwards thanks to generous donations from Polish citizens.
According to our tour guide, lets just call him The Guy With The Yellow Umbrella, this was also the very castle where coverted possessions were stolen from by armies and military personnel from neighbouring countries, namely Sweden.
Tickets to go on the Castle Tour for adults are 30 PLN. Students can get reduced ticket offer of 20 PLN. Free admission onto the castle tour is avaiable on Wednesdays. There are other exhibitions and galleries like the arcades that are free entry.
One of the biggest attractions in Warsaw is the Warsaw Barbican created in the 15th century. The barbican were once the walls and safeguards of Warsaw from armies who attempted to invade the city. They also divided what was “Old Warsaw” and “New Warsaw” till it became known as the old town and new town respectively in the city itself. Unforutnately the advancement of tecnhology and rise of modern warfare rendered the walls useless so the top half of the original was knocked down for other uses.
After the walking tour had ended, I came back here and had a bit of enjoyment strolling along the pathways to get a sense of its history, peeking over the remaining sections of the walls and of course – having a mini photo shoot 😛
Introducing you to Warsaw’s very own incarnation of a town square known as the Castle Square. Bang smack in the middle of Warsaw’s old town, which is surprisingly the youngest in Europe due to its troubled history of destruction, the Castle Square has souvenir shops. food stalls, mini museums, touristy restaurants and bars as well as live performances. It’s a lot of Polish culture rolled into one space.
This town square for me has the most colour and art of all the old towns and main districts I’ve visited. Couldn’t take my eyes of it for long periods of time. Also if you pay close attention on some of the buildings they have paintings on them that are symbols of the city’s history in one way or another. On top of the buildings are small houses/rooms built to help provide lighting to the staircases in the buildings.
Not far from the Royal Castle you have the Taras Widokowy, translating to viewing terrace in English. Over here you can get lovely panoramic views of Central Warsaw. Not quite skyline level but high enough to take in some good scenery on the cheap. There’s no lift to take you all the way up so climbing boots are fully needed, but worth it after you’ve made it.
It was a very windy day despite the sun being out. Being so high up made me and The other people more exposed to it. Once I got over that and the 100 billion flights of stairs I had to climb up to get to the terrace I enjoyed watching everyone else going about their everyday life.
As for it being on the cheap, you’re charged 6 PLN to go up the terrace. That’s pretty much equivalent to about £1 or a euro so no views will be putting dents in holiday finances.
My only museum visit of my first day was to the 3D Fotoplastikon museum right next to the city centre.
In the museum you can get lots of glimpses into the everyday life of well-known cities and countries by looking at 3D sliding images through binoculars. The Images themselves are accurate in terms of them actually being 3D. I got the feeling that Iwas literally present in the moment of those images.
Every month they run an exhibition of sliding images of one place. That place is chosen depending on the type of exhibition. For example one month it may be moving pictures of London shown or Istanbul the month after. This month it was Kabul and Heral, two cities in Afghanistan. Although every Sunday the moving pictures are of life in Warsaw.
It’s quite a small museum and for its location within the city it is actually very hidden, being tucked in a small courtyard area so make sure Google Maps is on so that you don’t end up walking up and down the street.
Fun Fact: The Museum has over 7000 stock photos locked away in storage for use.
Rating out of 10: 7.5 out of 10
After my time exploring both the old and “new” town of Warsaw I felt my belly craving for some food so it was time to have my first experience dining a milk bar, which was Poland’s own take on cafes that serve food with a lot of dairy in them, milk included.
Bar Mleczny (simply translates to Milk Bar in English) was my first taste of Pierogi, a dumpling-like sweet dessert (shoutout to Becky Skel for the recommendation). Without a question it was the one food from the Polish cuisine that was a must try. Guys – It was bloody great: from the creamy, sweet taste of it, colour of the Pierogi to the icing on the edges of tht plate. I Served 7 of them altogether (more than I had initially expected) and was so full by the time I got to my 5th Pierogi.
It was different to other desserts I have had before in so many ways. The only disappointment I had was that I didn’t have more and didnt take any with me back to London to give to the fam 😂
Along with my delicious Pierogi I also got Makaron, which was pasta with cheese and jam. Very odd mix and it was awful in all honesty. The taste was bland and the pasta was cold. Why it was cold I have no idea. I couldn’t even finish it, largely because of the Pierogi to be fair though.
In my opinion it was ntor very clever putting jam on top of it and the cheese would’ve been better coated and cooked on top than as a side. Much like Macaroni Cheese. If I knew Pierogi was as filling as it was then I would’ve looked pass the Makaron or at least tried another combination.
Another downside of Bar Mleczny is most of their electronic menu is in Polish and don’t have translations so struggled to decide what to pick for a while. Staff being English speaking was a plus and I quite liked the layout of the milk bar. Quite a few seating areas around. Toilet is LONG!!! Literally a hallway and not a pigeon hole like you find with most restaurants and bars.
To finish off Day 1 dined at the Manekin Crêperie. I had heard positive things about this restaurant and the quality and even portion sizes of their crepes. It was recommended by full-time travelers and YouTubers Rachel and Nick. Big shoutout to them.
I spent 15-20 mins as there was a queues stretching from just inside the restaurant to outside. Something I was warned about by Rachel and Nick so I wasnt shocked when I saw the queue, which wasnt too long actually.
Afterwards I was given a seat and menu (in English thankfully). Eventually decided on grttng a wholemeal crepe with chicken, egg, mozzarella, garlic sauce and salad and the side. Look at me being nutritious.
First words in my head were “baby!” when I saw how big it was and had my first bite. Not like in Justin Bieber’s voice of course. I’m too macho for that! The waitress came up to see me and I told her these very words “This is the best crepe I’ve ever had”. Very rarely do I take the time to slowly savour a meal the way I did with my crepe. Sorry if you’re French and have had the pain of reading this because I know crepes are a food staple in France.
I even went as far as ordering another one to have for dinner the following day. This one was a simple cheese cree though. It was around 28/29 PLN I ended up paying altogether. For me its good value. Not to come across as a sensationalist but one of their crepes can be dinner and breakfast rolled into one thats how filling it is.
As mentioned the queues are typically long so if you’re not a patient person then this restaurant may get a no from you or maybe eat at the restaurant just before and after prime time (a la midday and evenings). However the quality of the food definitely makes any wait worth it.
Personally I eeally enjoyed my dining experience at Manekin. I would 120% recommend to anyone sweet or/and savoury. I was spoiled with its goodness but allowed to air on the healthy side too which is most ideal for my lifestyle.
Rating out of 10: 8 out of 10
I booked into the Inbed Hostel in the Solec district, was 10-15 minutes from the old town for anyone wanting a rough reference for how far/close I was ton the action.
For my stay, I decided to do things a bit different from a rooming’s angle and chose to stay in a private bedroom rather than a shared dorm. The size of the bedroom caught my eye instantly. It was so tiny, as you can see from the pics below, that even my workplace’s office is bigger.
The hostel doesn’t really lend itself for mixing and mingling like other hostels I’ve been to previously. There weren’t activities and social events organised by the hostel for instance and that for me was another big letdown. The best thing they do in terms of encouraging people to meet new people is a few leaflets of pub crawls left on the desk.
As for the customer service/hospitality I found it generally solid. The reception desk was open 24/7 so there’s always staff available to check you in or out, give you a tour around and show you into your bedroom. Sensible as tou get late arrivals at avcomodauuton There was always help from the staff when you needed and they were English speaking for the most part too.
Continental breakfast was offered every mornin for free so pun unintended I was milking all the food. Even taking a few sandwiches away with me for afternoom and evening snacks. The toilets and showers were kept clean – apart from on my last morning there where one shower looked like it had poo on fhe floor an smelt horrendously. But that was a one-off and more down to the guests.
All in all the experience was satisfactory although it didn’t have that “exceeding expectations” factor. Looking back at it It ran more like a B&B than a actual hostel in my opinion and it did its purpose of giving people comfortable enough bed to stay in, clean toilets and showers and breakfast to send guests on their way.
Rating out of 10: 6 out of 10
I’d say my first day at Warsaw was an enjoyable enough experience. Manekin is a gem among tourists and locals. My first time dining at a milk bar was nice, mostly down to Pierogi 👌🏾 The Old Town has a sense of youthful exuberance about it because it’s quite young in age and the architecture is very colourful.
And that’s day wrapped up, you can only do so much in the hours given to you each day. A review of day 2 should be dropping over the weekend. Plenty of more stories for me to tell so stay tuned!
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures