First Impressions of Warsaw, Poland

I had my first taste of Poland these past few days in the city of Warsaw. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this city. Having only had 4 days there, it’s impossible to really get to know a city, let alone a country, but during my little taster visit this is what struck me about Warsaw.

The Old Town (Stare Miasto)

Warsaw’s Old Town is quite simply breathtaking. Like most of Warsaw, the Old Town was almost completely destroyed during the war, but it was built back up again, brick by brick, to what is by far the most charismatic part of the city. In a way, the architecture here reminds me of Prague, with some of the extra decorative little details, and range of colour that can be seen on just an ordinary street or building.

Lazienke Park

My first full day in Warsaw was spent exploring Lazienke Park. If you want an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, then this is definitely it! What I loved about this park, that despite housing a palace, large monuments, waterfalls, and statues, which all attracted the tourists, you could still find many places within it that felt very secluded. I loved how in parts of the park you would walk around a corner and see a couple houses dotted about, where people actually lived. It must be amazing to live so close to the city, yet feel like you are out in the wilderness everyday, as you could hardly see the little wooden houses unless you stumbled across them by accident behind the trees. Whilst in some of the more populated areas of the park I also came across some rare birds, as well as cockerels, and more ordinary ducks. You could be sitting in one of the cafes dotted throughout the park, having a cup of tea, when out pops a cockerell behind your seat!

Nuns and street dancers!

Two things I kept seeing a lot of while walking about Warsaw was nuns and street dancers! Not together of course, although a street dancing nun would be pretty cool if ever I saw one! Warsaw did seem to have a lot of random street dancers though, who would just perform for the people walking past on a whim. As it turns out there is a Street Dancing Championship held in Moscow during May which I later read about in a guide lying about the hostel while I was bored, which may explain the influx! As for the nuns though I just couldn’t explain it. I must have seen at least 4 nuns each day I was in Warsaw, just randomly in the shops, on the tram, or even taking pictures at the touristy sights beside me! I always knew that Poland as a whole had quite a high Christian population, but seeing so many nuns out and about was definitely a surprise. Religion does seem to be a big part of Polish life, or at least a bigger part than some other countries I’ve been to, including my home country of Scotland, which is cool, although admittedly I am not religious at all (as an adult).

Late night festivals

After heading out for dinner in Warsaw with one of my hostel buddies, we went out looking for somewhere to have a drink. Randomly, she happened to speak some Russian, as did a few of the Polish guys who were passing, they got chatting, and 10 minutes later we were at some outdoor late night festival that is apparently held every weekend if the weather has been good. Having only really passed swanky bars beforehand, we were quite pleased to find somewhere with lots of young people hanging out, listing to live bands, and lounging around on the grass with a drink in hand. It really was a cool set up if I say so myself. Some people brought their dogs, others brought their drink! There must have been at least 5,000 people there. Almost all it seemed were young Polish students and artsy kind of folk. If I’d been staying in Warsaw longer I would definitely have went back here. It was much better than any pub or nightclub you will find in the city. The beer is also really cheap, and the people very friendly. There is no way we would have found this place on our own either. It’s times like these I am glad I make random friends in hostels, but also a reminder that I need to learn another language!

Cheapity cheap cheap!

Warsaw overall is fairly cheap. However, not as cheap as I expected. It really just depended on what you were buying and where. For instance, beer was something that was definitely very affordable. You could easily buy a beer in a bar for around 6 PLN (1.32 GBP / $2.14), which is super cheap compared to other European countries. Also, accommodation was very cheap too. I was able to book a hostel for 150 PLN (£33.05 / $53.56), which is excellent! However, when eating out, a main meal could cost anything between 25 – 55 PLN ( £5.50 – £12.11) depending on what you ordered and where, which is more in line with prices in budget restaurants back in my home country of Scotland. That’s by no means going to break the bank, but considering just how cheap things like beer and accommodation were, it was surprising to find other things which were more comparable to home prices. Shopping for food in the supermarket was also about the same. Like I say though, it’s hardly going to break the bank, especially when you compare it to other capital cities such as Paris or Brussels.

Overall I enjoyed my time in Warsaw. I must admit, after the first few days I did become a little bit bored here. There are a lot of museums and other things you can do here, but I’m kind of all “museum’d out” at the moment having travelled to a lot of European destinations recently. Tomorrow I depart for Latvia, however as there are no direct trains from Warsaw to Riga, this does mean an arduous 17 hour journey by bus! Wish me luck!

2 Responses to “First Impressions of Warsaw, Poland”

  1. Chris says:

    I loved Warsaw and wish I’d not used it as a commute stop to get down to Krakow. When I was there I stopped in the centre of the old town on a really hot day and relaxed with a stein of beer and just people watched.

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