A while back, I spotted a Ryanair sale and jumped on it as usual. This time I bought trips to Eindhoven and Warsaw for the same month, just for one day/night each as it was the first time that I’d visited either country. I wanted to use these short trips as a test to decide whether to go back for a longer period or not. If you take a look at my blog post about my trip to Eindhoven, you’ll see that I’m probably not going to go back to Eindhoven, but Warsaw was a different story.
The flight lasted just over 2 hours and was pretty calm, despite the poor weather in England upon departure. I flew from Liverpool, which is my preferred airport as the time to get from the entrance through to the lounge is at least half of that at Manchester, plus the parking is much better in my opinion.
I’m quite relaxed when it comes to visiting new places, and I don’t really tend to plan anything, even down to transfers. I’ve decided recently to just land and find the nearest bus stop or train station, and if all else fails, I could jump into a taxi.
This time I spotted a bus from the airport to the centre of Warsaw which was 9 zloty if you booked online and 35 zloty if you paid on the spot. 35 zloty seems to be about £7.50 or so, which isn’t bad for a 45 minute bus journey. The bus/coach takes you to the Palace of Culture, right in the centre of Warsaw, which is an enormous building that cannot be missed, especially at night as it is illuminated in colour, and looks amazing, which you can see in a picture below.
I wandered around the city for a while, just checking out what was going on, and to see if there was anything interesting to do, as I had no plans. I stumbled upon a market right across from my accommodation, which had all sorts of foods, drinks and crafts like wooden chopping boards and decorations.
The main thing I took from walking around Warsaw was that I had an idea of what Poland would be like, and Warsaw totally defied my views. I thought Poland would be a bit behind the times, quite poor and relatively unsafe, compared to the North of England, let’s say. I was completely wrong, the crime rate in Poland is so much lower than in the UK, and I felt totally safe walking around Warsaw. I don’t actually remember many people looking at me, apart from a few who looked at my bobble hat – it was very, very cold in Warsaw.
I know Warsaw is the capital of Poland, and therefore it’ll have more money pumped into it than other parts, but I was amazed at the amount of well-built sky scrapers, expensive stores and how well kept the city was – there was very little graffiti around and I only saw one homeless person, granted it was very cold, but that doesn’t stop them sitting on the high street in Preston and Liverpool.
I had booked a hostel for £10, but as it got closer to the time, I decided that I’d rather have my own place and some privacy as I was really just going to explore, not to meet people. I upgraded to what was described as a superior apartment, and it actually lived up to expectations quite well.
In terms of location, there was a dual carriageway which had all of the main huge buildings on it, and on the street behind these buildings was the tower block where the apartment was located. It’s quite a drab looking building, and it gets worse as you get inside. The lift is so old, and was quite terrifying as there wasn’t an interior door in the lift as there are in normal lifts. However, it got me safely to the 8th floor, and when I walked into the hallway I was pretty disgusted, it was horrible, dirty and looked like a prison, the corridors were blocked by locked gates. I opened the gate with the key I had, and my apartment was the first one there, so I was just hoping that the apartment lived up to the photos on booking.com and as you can see below, it did, it was a really nice apartment inside and was absolutely boiling inside as they had the heating on waiting for me.
The bedding was clean and pretty new, they had even provided tea, coffee and sugar for me. I only paid £35 for the night, and I’m very happy that I did as it was very comfortable.
I woke up at 4am in England, ready to drive to the airport and fly at 6.30am – and as soon as I got off the transfer into the city, I just wandered for hours, then ended up at the apartment at about 4pm to charge my phone and rest my feet for a bit before going back out, but, I fell asleep and woke up at 7.30pm, which is really annoying but that’s not something I normally do, so my body must have needed the sleep.
Anyway, I got up and decided to go back out to see what Warsaw was like in the dark, and it was really different – the buildings looked amazing, and weirdly, it was less cold than it was during the day. There wasn’t really any wind the whole day and it didn’t rain at all, it was just really cold and dry.
I found this weird restaurant in which you served yourself and at the end you weighed your plate and the price depended on the weight of the food, rather than the type of food. The bill came to 25 zloty including a Coke Zero, and I had forgotten about exchange rates so I was like, oh, £25 for a meal, that’s pretty expensive, but when I sat down I realised that it was only about a fiver, so really good value for money.
I speak English, French and my Spanish is pretty good, meaning I can read quite a bit of Portuguese too, and Italian is a similar language, which pretty much covers most of the world, but not Poland. I am totally allergic to potato, as weird as that sounds, it’s true – so I need to make sure that everywhere I go, I check that the food doesn’t contain potatoes so I had to learn the word for potato which is Ziemniak, just to make sure it’s not in the food as most of the signs didn’t have translation, and why would they, it’s the capital of their own country.
I walked around for a while longer just taking some photos and putting in the miles like I usually do when I’m exploring, and it’s a really nice city. At night, I oddly felt safer than I did during the day.
I would return to Warsaw with somebody else, for a longer period of time to actually visit some museums and do some research before arriving to make some sort of itinerary as I think the city has a lot to offer, and I’d definitely visit other parts of Poland as I found the country quite pleasant. I did say that if you took the signs away, written in Polish, dropped somebody there and asked them to guess which country they were in, they would not get it correct. I’d say that countries like Germany, England, France, Holland and Switzerland would come up well before Poland, as it just was nothing like I expected it to be.