Our weekend in Warsaw was brief and a bit unexpected. We just so happened to be there for Independence Day, and given the nature of how it is celebrated there our plans altered a little bit to avoid some of the craziness.
On the Thursday we arrived, after cabbing into downtown and then walking to our hotel, we chilled in our room and the bar, getting in late enough to not warrant the long journey back into town (it was not close). For dinner we found a nice little Italian restaurant nearby (I know, not local, but the hotel was kind of out near nothing). The food was great and there was live music, plus they had monstrously large gin cocktail specials. We then went back to the hotel and met up with some friends, having a few drinks to catch up before turning in for the night.
On our first full day Boyface and I made our way into Old Town and wandered all over. Our path was a little diverted by the barriers being raised for the next day’s events (three separate parades!) but we took in all the Old Town and surrounding areas, grabbing coffee in the central area for some good pastries and people watching before following taking in the history and culture. Warsaw is speckled with old buildings, like the old Bank, pocked with bullet or bomb damage, or whole areas that had to be rebuilt following the war. Museums and monuments cover the city and there is signage aplenty to get the shorthand history lesson. We didn’t stop in any museums but did walk all over the city and made our laps to take in as much as possible, even waking part of the old wall around Old Town.
Saturday was Independence Day, and while Boyface was busy for the day I did a solo journey, weaving my way towards town but deciding to duck into a coffee shop to do some much needed writing catch up as the barriers and police presence increased. I found myself in a Cafe Nero Green with a second floor and a seat at the window provided me with a full view of the first event of the day: a marathon! I couldn’t believe how many people in red or white participated in the marathon, a seemingly endless line of runners and even walkers going up the road and very long after coming back down. This was followed by the first of many parades, which were each representative of different political parties or factions, but I stayed away from those. I wasn’t confident, given the number of people heading into town, that I would be able to leave when I wanted as it seemed it would be very crowded, and photos I saw later showed this to be fairly accurate. As interesting as it would have been to see the celebrations first hand, after much internal debate I decided to avoid the chaos, especially given the level of contrary politics involved. And that being said, I wouldn’t have been able to remain long as I had to return to the hotel area to meet up with Boyface and others before heading into town later that evening to hang out anyway.
We got drinks at someone’s hotel before going to a very popular place called Folk Gospoda for traditional Polish food. Nearly every one of our large group got pirogi and they sere amazing! If it had been possible I would have gone back again before heading home, or at least tried more than one kind, but I guess I will just have to go next time I am in town. From there we attempted to go to some fancy rooftop bar, but the line was massive so the group split, those of us not willing to wait for an unknown and expensive variable finding our way to a little beer place called Jabeerwocky which has a wide array of beers on tap. It was the perfect place to get a beer and just chat. Our final wanderings tried to find another place, but we were lead astray by the internet and found the grungiest little dive joint instead of a karaoke bar that made most of us decide it was time to head home. Otherwise a great night.
After a long sleep-in, Sunday saw us mostly speaking with and bidding farewell to people we would not be seeing later or probably for a while. Eventually we wandered back into town for a last look around and to check out the Palace of Culture and Science on a recommendation. It was pretty cool, especially as the darkness fell and it was all lit up outside, and it right in town so easy to find if you are interested. Then we had an early dinner back at the Italian place again, needing to turn in very early for our flight home the next morning and being already exhausted, before requiring a 430am Uber ride that was the most terrifying we’d ever had. And after a fairly short flight home (Poland is fairly close to Sweden) and a long bus back to town, plus a few misplaced items that we were luckily able to retrieve, our trip was over.
It was quick, and not quite what we’d initially planned, but our weekend in Warsaw was lovely, and the food and coffee were great. I definitely can’t wait to go back and do a more proper visit next time around, hopefully with one or two Polish friends in tow for that insider perspective.