Best Of: Warsaw
Best Meal: Smaki Warszawy
This Polish-French restaurant was small and laced in white: white trim, white tables, white linens, white doors, and a white counter full of desserts in the window facing the street. There was a bouquet of fresh flowers on each of the less than 30 tables, most shoved off to the side while families and couples whispered over candlelight. The restaurant was quiet, every table ordered dessert, and the meal melted in my mouth.
Appetizer: potato pancakes with smoked salmon and red caviar.
Main Course: the roasted duck with blueberry compote and fruit crumble.
Best City Tour: Chopin’s Benches (self-guided) (more…)
Things To Do In Warsaw: Part 2
We had intended the second day in Warsaw to revolve around tourist activities, which, though abnormal for us, felt like something we ought to do in this city. This, in part, was fueled by an honest stroke of boredom and the knowledge that what we had planned wouldn’t even take half the day.
We found our way to Royal Route and ambled along, plodded by a generous number of young families and elderly couples, until we reach the Royal Castle. The buildings on the route ranged from pre-war antiquities in vibrant colors and sculptural facades to post-war paned-glass squares with sloped roofs. The walk up to the castle was surrounded by light stones, marble, and gilded Corinthian columns. Young children blew bubbles that floated across the square and over a growing group of picket-wielding protesters and men with animal-shaped balloons.
The front of the Royal Castle, in contrast, lacked any sort of vibrancy or the delicate details so prevalent on the other buildings. The Castle looked more like a fortress than a place for royals with its red brick and small square windows. The old clock dome and the two sea-foam spires failed to soften its imposing stature. (more…)
Things To Do In Warsaw: Part 1
Warsaw, like Krakow, has a history that feels akin to Midwestern humidity in August: thick, sticky, and oppressive. I felt it the moment I stepped onto the train platform and honestly, I can’t be certain why this was the case (though it could have been fueled by the biting wind and the bevy of building-induced shadows). Warsaw appeared to have had more recent expansions and modern construction in the form of high rises, glass-paned windows from floor to ceiling, and more Westernized fast food options (this last one was an unfortunate site), but it didn’t feel quite right.
Over the next few days I realized that Warsaw often felt like two cities stuck in different times, especially in terms of architecture. Personally, and this is highly subjective, I found the newer buildings ugly. Much of the city had to be rebuilt, but I often wished that it had been done in a manner consistent with the structures of bygone eras. That said, there are areas within the city where the styles intermingle with success. The main thoroughfares give way to dozens of tangled side streets and alleys that are rich with arches, old stucco, graffiti-covered windows, and the occasional candlelit sconce. The cobblestoned streets/alleys aren’t exactly inviting, and I didn’t walk too many of them after dark, but they provide a different view of the city and are worth exploring (especially on weekday mornings when the locals are using the main streets to get to work). (more…)