*this blog post contains affiliate links and poor photography!*
I don’t know about you, but this has been the longest year ever – and as far as I’m concerned, whether or not you’re on the front-line, whether or not you’ve been affected directly, you’re allowed to feel frustrated and angry at putting your life on hold.
Since we came back from our last trip abroad in February 2020, we’ve been dreaming about the next time we’ll manage to get away. Will 2021 be the year we manage it?
With the Scottish Government implementing mandatory quarantine hotels for anyone travelling into the country, this would certainly add quite a whack to any trip abroad – so for the meantime I imagine the furthest away we’ll be getting is an afternoon at Loch Lomond.
Until Covid-19 is a faint memory and we – along with others – are back living life normally, we’ll continue to torture ourselves on Saturday nights talking about where we’ve been and our favourite places to visit.
I believe that misery loves company, so over the next few weeks I'm going to share the top five places that I’m most looking forward to visiting again.
I know that we all have different budgets and ideas of what a holiday should be – so I’ve put together a Save, Spend, Splurge edit, to allow you to build your dream trip once we return to the new normal.
Warsaw is one of the few places I truly believe you could visit over and over again and still find something new to do, we were once asked by a girl checking us into our AirBnB,
“Why would you come back to Warsaw?!” terrible chat from someone in the tourism industry but I thought it was hilarious.
The area is so steeped in history, you can’t help but learn everywhere you go – whether its from walking alongside the markings that mark out the boundary of the Jewish Ghetto, or standing beside the Uprising memorial – it’s a very emotive experience.
We first visited Warsaw in 2015 purely because it was the cheapest flight we could get from Glasgow, pretty often you can fly either way for around £20 – sometimes this means a very early start, but when you travel on as much of a budget as we do that isn’t much of a concession to make.
There are two airports you can fly into; Modlin or Chopin, but we’ve always found Modlin to be significantly cheaper – it’s like the Prestwick option for Glasgow. From there it’s a bus journey into the centre of the city, it takes about 45 minutes, but flies in and for what it costs I’d say it’s worth it. We have shared a taxi with another couple one time, it was significantly more expensive but only took twenty minutes.
The first option for Warsaw accommodation is the New World Street Hostel. We’ve checked in here for other accommodation before, and it’s up around 4,000 stairs, so really not one for the fainthearted. I’m half-joking, they have motivational posters in the stairwell (no, really!) and offer a cheap and cheerful budget stay. We’ve never stayed here, but can honestly say that I’ve never seen any trouble and their receptionist even let me interview her on camera for a Uni project – thanks again gal.
Owned by the same people as the hostel suggested previously, the Chmielna Guest House is one of my favourite places to stay and have returned four or five times now. The guest house is laid out like a large flat with a communal living room and kitchen and two great big bathrooms, some of the bedrooms in the guest house have an en suite, we’ve only stayed in a room without a private loo once, and even when the apartment is fully booked you rarely pass anyone – so the awkward dash after the shower isn’t too bad.
Right in the centre of the city, and a minutes dash to the shopping centre (complete with a Sephora), the Marriot is probably one of the more high-end hotels we’ve seen – we’ve never stayed but have visited a couple of the bars and the restaurant and it’s one of the first places we put on our list of things to do. Their Italian restaurant was where I took Simon for his birthday one year, it was pretty expensive when you compare it to other eateries but the quality was a amazing and I always remember the service being incredible. In addition to a pretty opulent foyer bar, the Panorama skybar on the 40th floor is must-see, and their cocktail menu is a must-taste.
Where To Go?
The Palace of Science and Culture is a real highlight, dominating the skyline at 237 meters, the Soviet gift is the tallest building in Poland and the 5th tallest in the EU. Built in 1955, it’s home to an eight screen cinema, an exhibition centre, four different theatres, bookshops, a swimming pool and two museums – among other attractions. On a clear day, taking one of the impossibly polished lifts to the terrace at the 30th floor is a great way to see the spread of the city, it’s a lovely way to spend a morning with a hot chocolate to warm cold hands, watching the tiny figures and cars moving around the city.
The Uprising Museum is a brilliant way to spend an afternoon, especially if it’s cold – but I’d highly recommend you book in advance. If you’d ever had the chance to visit the old Glasgow Transport Museum it reminds me a little of that due to how immersive aspects of it are. The museum is a tribute to the residents of Warsaw who fought and died for Poland’s independence. By wandering through their 1500 photographs and 800 exhibition items you really get a feel for everyday life during the rising of Poland, and the post-war communism era. If – like me – you like to hear, look and touch history, this is the place for you.
If you get a dry, pleasant day a walking tour is a nice way to see more of the city than you probably would just by wandering aimlessly. The Orange Umbrella ‘Best of Warsaw’ Tour takes you to the to the historical centre of Warsaw; along cobbled streets and aside defensive walls – you can see where where the wealth was in the 17th and 18th century – and also where Marie Curie was studying and Chopin was living. There’s more to Warsaw than cheap booze.
Which brings me nicely to The Pavillion.
A legendary courtyard not far from the city centre, the Pavillion is home to more than twenty bars – all decorated in a totally unique manner and attracting totally unique people.
Pijalnia Wodki i Piwa translates to the Beer and Wine Drinking Room. I challenge you to find somewhere with equally cheap drinks and as much atmosphere. Decorated in old newspaper and styled to have more than a sniff of the Socialist Era through their bar food like jellied meat or herring; it’s needless to say I’ve never eaten there! Their speciality is definitely their menu of shots, from those with simple ingredients to those featuring more out-there components like tabasco – there is something to suit any taste. One of my favourite memories in this bar was waiting while Simon ran back to our room for something, and befriending an old Polish man who spoke no English. We bought each other a glass of wine from the tap (seriously) and were talking animatedly by the time Si returned, utterly bemused.
Precedens is one we’ve returned to a few times, it’s Simon’s favourite – it plays punk and rock music, and the walls are plastered in old music posters, broken guitars and skateboards. As each of these bars are so small, you generally end up getting friendly with bar staff if it isn’t too busy – they can often suggest drinks you’re not totally familiar with – though it isn’t a cocktail bar. While the last bar is one I’d suggest to kick off a big night out, Precedens is better for one of those nights where you can get some beers in and chat about everything that comes to mind – and really, when better to do that then when on holiday and trying to forget the real world.
The last bar in the Pavillion I wanted to give an honourable mention to is Klaps. There are probably bars you shouldn’t visit with family, and while Klaps is 100% one of these, it’s too much of a good laugh not to. One thing you notice almost immediately is the wall of light up tits, then you probably see the dildos in the place of beer taps – need I see more. Should your mother-in-law ever see you with your head stuck through a cartoon vulva? Probably not, but que sera!
Have you visited Warsaw before? I'd love to know your favourite spots to hang out.
Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, I'll be taking you on a whistle-stop visit to Verona!