War(saw) and Peace

First thing’s first. Everyone should visit Poland. I know, I know, who goes to Poland? People visiting Europe want to see Paris, or London, or Rome. I get it. I understand. However, I strongly suggest you reconsider these tendencies towards the norm and try something outside the box.

While I truly enjoyed travelling with my parents in my younger years, I am really getting a lot out of the experience of doing it on my (somewhat) own. For example, I have been to Krakow before and I can recall its picturesque winding roads and colorful artistic surroundings. Yet, much like Ireland, I truly didn’t understand the charm of Poland until I saw it this time around.

We arrived in Warsaw early in the morning on Saturday and began our preliminary first day walkabout. With Easter coming up, there were plenty a market and street vendor around for our enjoyment. We purchased some hot wine and took a nice stroll through the city. Fun fact: Warsaw has WiFi hotspots all over the city, which is something I’ve seen in only a few places and which my friends greatly appreciated. After our initial tour we came upon a horse-drawn carriage. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that kind of thing is usually pretty pricey. You are mistaken. Not only is anything split 4 ways considerably cheaper, Poland is just generally inexpensive. The carriage ride was the perfect way for us to see what we had missed in our promenade and to give us ideas on other things to do. The driver spoke to us in broken Russian and Vika and I translated for our non-slavic speaking friends. The horse tried to eat me (notice my fear) when I tried to take a picture with it afterwards. It did not succeed, however it did have a nice chew on Trina’s scarf.

Dinner was right in the center and consisted of everything Polish. We had dumplings, we had soup, we had potatoes, we had meat, the whole shebang! Including a bottle of wine, multiple courses, and several desserts, the whole thing came out to around 20 euros a head. That would be one course in Italy…or France…or London so just keep that in mind. Following our hefty meal we went out to a Polish club. This was a completely different experience to my one in England because the age gap was in the opposite direction this time! We were probably the youngest people there by a solid 7 years. You could tell by how everyone was dancing. There’s a generational difference in how hips are used in the art of dance: this was both prevalent and amusing. Another thing is that people were dressed up nice. Not just club nice, but nice nice. This was surprising and interesting to witness, understandably I felt a liiiiittle under dressed in my high-waisted shorts and long-sleeved crop top. The music was great, however, ranging from old songs to new songs with funky remixes thrown into the mix. As per usual, we danced the night away!

The next day the girls went to Auschwitz. My flight was earlier than theirs because I didn’t want to miss class the next day so sadly I could not join them. I wasn’t too upset, mind you, because it gave me a whole other day in Warsaw all to myself. Let me tell you, Sundays in Warsaw are popping. There were street performers out, even more markets, and just an air of content surrounding everything. It turned out that the weekend we were in Warsaw was one of the few weekends a year during which the Presidential Palace is open to the public. I stood in line for roughly half an hour and then got a tour of the place. I was the only non-Polish speaker so I had an audio guide while the rest of the group listened to a real person but that didn’t faze me. The palace was very regal and varied it its style, and I learned a lot about Polish history that I hadn’t known before. After the palace I went ambling through the markets, getting myself a souvenir here, a bit of kielbasy (Polish sausage) there. My most exciting find was a little pocket watch that I’m currently wearing as a necklace. It’s fly.

Speaking of my flight was delayed on the way back, but I don’t blame that on Poland. I had a really lovely (I know I use this word often) time and would most certainly recommend it for anyone wanting to try something off the beaten track.

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