Warsaw was nothing like I expected. I expected gray and dreary skies and buildings and unhappy people. Don’t ask me why. I just did. (Above, Warsaw’s old Palace of Science & Culture, a typical sort of gift from The Soviets.)
Instead I got this…YARN BOMBING. I tried to explain this guerrilla activity to someone recently and they thought I was making it up. (Wishing I could remember who it was because I was quite annoyed at the time. I was being mocked. Passive voice. Grr.) But no. Yarn bombing is serious. Knitters (or crocheters) get together and cover something banal with knitting (or crocheting). Crazy times. (See more examples over here on Google Images.)
In the Old Town, I saw a man standing on his head. He stood on his head for a really long time. I didn’t give him any money, but in hindsight, I should have. Because standing on your head for like hours on end is pretty damn cool. (Although I still want to know…doesn’t all the blood run to his head? Isn’t this bad? Won’t he die?)
Sometimes I think I’m still single because I’m waiting for this man. Without the odd facial hair of course. And I haven’t quite decided how old he is…facial hair can be so aging. They just don’t make em like they used to, huh?
Time for lunch. I went to U Kucharzy like everyone says you should and had the steak tartare.
And a big green salad. It was delicious. Although truth be told, my memories are a little bit hazy because I had flown from Chicago to Brussels to Warsaw and hadn’t slept much during the two flights.
The next day, my co-worker Mark arrived. His flight was EARLY even. We totally solved all the world’s problems over some small beers at Podwala 25.
On Monday, we had lunch with my old co-worker Sean. (Actually, his real name is Wojech, but he’s Sean to the English-speakers. I don’t mind calling him Wojech, but that’s not how this dual-name thing works.) I made a booking for lunch at Folk Gospoda after seeing it on the way to the Warsaw Uprising museum. And while the food was nothing to write home about (sausages), I liked the cozy atmosphere. (Oh wait–I also liked how the bread basket was served with LARD WITH BACON. Excellent. Ah, and the Warka beer was also quite nice.)
I liked Warsaw. You might know I’m not a museum sort, but I went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Frederic Chopin museum. The former was PACKED and uncomfortable. Just too many people. But the story was compelling. The latter was tame but blissfully peaceful and quiet. The story was not so compelling. (I mean, it was. The guy was a genius. I just wasn’t too into the museum.)
In summary…where I ate…
U Kucharzy, Ossolińskich 7. (Across from the Bristol Hotel, down the sidestreet): A Warsaw mainstay, famous for its steak tartare. I liked the atmosphere here and how it was all white but not in a modern way. I liked the service. And I really liked my steak tartare, as well as the house white (A Cote de Gascogne, made especially for the Gessler restaurants in Poland). Recommended.
Podwala 25, located at Podwala 25: Boisterous beer hall, but a lot tamer than the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Separated into little rooms. Our room seemed tamer than most so I’d recommend asking to see other seating options before you commit to a table. There’s a section on the menu of food that’s “good with beer.” Good times. Strong Polish food…not gourmet but still good. Go more for the atmosphere than anything else.
Folk Gospoda, Waliców 13 close to the Westin. Beautiful wooden interior. Nice outdoor seating area on a quietly busy street. Convenient for drinks before or after Warsaw Uprising Museum as it’s just about a 10-15 minute walk.
In short, I had a nice time in Warsaw. Not much time to explore, but a nice time just the same. You will too. Enjoy!