Four Days in Historic Warsaw

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Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black

When the bellhop left the hotel room after depositing our luggage, I broke into a touchdown dance.

“This room!”

I dove onto the bed, a European double, spaced at least 3-feet away from a second bed. Larger beds and no tripping over luggage, boots and each other? Minimal upgrades that seemed positively luxe when compared to our accommodations in the past 15 days.

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black| Polonia Palace Lobby at Christmastime Warsaw

Polonia Palace Lobby festively decorated for the Christmas holidays.

In Copenhagen and Berlin, we stayed in hostels. in small rooms reminiscent of my college dorm days. There was the budget hotel in Prague with an Internet connection so slow it literally made me cry (I blame travel fatigue). We reveled in the amenities of the 4-star hotel we’d booked in Warsaw, the last stop on our 3-, turned 4-city, self-directed tour of European capitals. Thanks to Warsaw’s inexpensive cost, four nights at the Polonia Palace Hotel cost just a tad more than one night at the hostel in Copenhagen.

“Keisha! We have a real tub!” Z exclaimed from the bathroom. I danced some more. The queen life.

The train ride from Prague to Warsaw was a long 7.5 hours, so we took it easy that night and enjoyed dinner in our hotel’s restaurant, Strauss.

Like Prague, Warsaw has its own historic town center – the Old Town Market Place  our first sightseeing destination the next morning. Everywhere you turn in the massive square you’re treated to enchanting view after view, bordered on one side by, what else? A Royal Castle. The beautiful square had to be rebuilt in the mid-20th century after being destroyed by Germany in WWII.

 

We found a giant panda on skates.

Beyond the square, in Old Town, are shops, cathedrals, landmarks, schools, restaurants and a touch of merriment courtesy of the lingering holiday decorations.

These are no ordinary light displays!

And a McFit? Yes, it’s what it sounds like: a McDonald’s gym. McDonald’s.

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black| McFit Display Ad Warsaw

It’s just as charming at night.

For dinner we chose Dwie, a Mediterranean fusion restaurant. “Fusion” restaurants bring out the skeptic in me, but I went for it.

In the end, the food presentation delighted me more than the actual meal. The dishes seemed to be trying too hard to be something.

The next day – a particularly chilly and dreary one – we visited the Warsaw Zoo. I love animals, but I’m not necessarily a fan of zoos. In the winter months, zoo admission is half off. The zoo is small, quite a few of the animals sheltered themselves from the cold in hidden places, and the big cats paced creepily. We left not feeling any better about zoos.

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black | Animals at the Warsaw Zoo

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black | Warsaw Pygmy Marmoset

This adorable pygmy marmoset was the highlight of the zoo for me. I imagine he’s saying, “Da hell YOU lookin’ at?”

Poland is known for pierogis, the ravioli-like dumplings served boiled or fried, with a variety of fillings that may include meat, cabbage, potatoes, or even fruit. We decided on an early dinner of pierogis at Zapiecek, which at 5pm already looked filled to capacity. Luckily we quickly snagged one of the last tables and were soon rewarded with delicious, real-deal pierogis.

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black| Palace of Culture and Science at Night Warsaw

The night skyline in Warsaw includes the tallest structure in Poland: Palace of Culture and Science which we walked by on our way home.

While indulging in late night desserts at a restaurant with an extensive sweets selection, Smaki Warszawy, fresh fat snow flakes started falling from the sky coating the city with white powder in minutes, making it seem more romantic – for other people. We saw a couple engaged in a flirty snowball fight on the short stroll back to our hotel.

Łazienki Park, a gigantic park in the center or Warsaw, is one of the most visited spots in Warsaw. To visit the day after fresh snowfall was a treat. The park’s full name translates to “royal baths park” and fresh snow also meant all the water in the park sat frozen or empty. Similar to Central Park in New York, visitors to the park are a collection of tourists and locals, families and friends, and couples taken by the magnificent parkscape.

Within the park is a museum, a white-tablecloth restaurant, sculptures, statues, and a palace. One of the most famous statues of of Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin, resides in the park. We witnessed a young guy use his footsteps to draw a heart in the snow around the perimeter of the empty pool in front of the statue. His adoring girlfriend watched at the base of the monument.

We picked our lunch spot by default that day. As it turns out, January 6 is a holiday in Poland, Three King’s Day, and as such, nearly everything was closed. Happily, Być Może, an airy cafe with high ceilings, served up tasty sandwiches on freshly-baked bread.

Our sightseeing adventures ended earlier than planned due to the holiday closures, which gave us more time to enjoy the comforts of our hotel and watch music videos on Eska tv, a Polish music channel. Their video lineup included the usual Top 40 suspects interspersed with local artists, like a rapper who looked and kinda sounded like a Polish Eminem. I couldn’t understand a word of what he said, but the beat and flow worked; I liked it. Notably, every commercial break contained at least one pharmaceutical commercial.

The next morning, I arose at a bleary hour, way before the birds, first to depart back to the United States. Bittersweet best describes what leaving felt like. For three weeks, Z and I were lucky enough to travel around Europe soaking in cultures, learning history, trying new foods, meeting interesting people and forming unforgettable memories. What a trip! Nevertheless, back in San Francisco awaited the comforts that only a place called “home” can provide.

Things to do, see and eat with 4 days in historic Warsaw, Poland. See more on The Girl Next Door is Black

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31 Comments
  • Laura
    April 25, 2017

    Love the post! I have visited Warsaw for the first time few weeks ago and I was so impressed! I loved everything about this city! There are so many amazing places to visit, that I have almost run out of time;) My favourite one was actually a bar with champagnes and sparkling wines called Bubbles. They had not only delicious beverages but also tasty meals. I loved it. I hope to visit Poland again soon, but hopefully during warmer time 🙂

  • deanz8
    December 19, 2015

    Hey Keisha

    really nice post, great that you add so many photos. i am researching my trip to Warsaw in a week. Is there aquarium in Zoo? Looking at some photos I was under impression they have big aquarium inside and my daughter would love to see big fish.

    If you decide to come to Belgrade, let us know, glad ot show you around this small part of East Europe srboteka.com

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      December 29, 2015

      Hi Dean – thanks for your comment! I don’t recall there being an aquarium at the Warsaw Zoo. Definitely didn’t see any fish. And thanks for your kind offer! I haven’t been to Belgrade yet, but I’ve heard good things! 🙂

  • Linda Manns Linneman
    July 10, 2015

    Warsaw looks like a beautiful place to visit. I am so happy you had a great hotel their. Polish people also really know how to cook. The food looked great. Thank you for sharing

  • Kids Are A Trip
    February 8, 2015

    I loved reading your post. When we traveled to Warsaw 15 years ago (gulp, has it been that long ago), we swore we would never return, but you make it look so fun! We actually stayed in a pension, so it was not so glamorous. I think we ate at that McDonald’s, but there was not a McFit at the time, but that does crack me up. The Old Town was beautiful and we enjoyed shopping at an antique shop there. So much history to enjoy. We also ate a fabulous pierogi meal (all flavors) which to this day, I still remember everything about the restaurant, the waiter, the beer. It was pretty spectacular. I’m glad you had such a wonderful experience in Warsaw, sounds like a great trip!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 8, 2015

      Oh how funny that you ate at the McDonald’s where the McFit is. Did you get a chance to visit Krakow? I heard that Krakow was more …exciting, I guess. We didn’t have time to visit, but I enjoyed Warsaw.

      Isn’t it amazing how food experiences can stick with us? I love that about travelling.

  • Lizzie
    January 27, 2015

    Warsaw looks so lovely! I visited Krakow a couple of years ago, but didn’t make it to Warsaw – now I’m determined to go back and see it 😀

  • Lynne Streeter Childress
    January 21, 2015

    SO WONDERFUL! I can taste those pierogi through the screen!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 21, 2015

      🙂 I wish that I’d been able to try some of the other fillings too. I’m especially curious about the fruit-filled ones.

      • Hanis Amanina
        January 27, 2015

        the pierogi are awesome! I still remember how tasty they were when I traveled twice to Poland, once to Warsaw and the next one to Krakow. And even pack some to take home 🙂 I’m currently living in Czech 🙂

  • Anna I
    January 21, 2015

    Sounds like you had such a wonderful time! I understand the joy of staying in a lovely hotel after nights in hostels. Once when I was traveling around Tohoku in Japan every night we stayed in little country B&Bs (one didn’t have air con and it was the peak of summer) but for our last night we were in an amazing hotel which was such a treat! x

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 21, 2015

      Eek, no A/C in summer?! That’s one good thing about “roughing” it: you appreciate conveniences and luxuries even more! 🙂

  • Sara @ Simply Sara Travel
    January 21, 2015

    I love your Warsaw post! Those Christmas decorations are great! I love the giant presents – so cute! I ate at the same pierogi restaurant too! I was there last May, and the place was packed even at a slightly off hour to eat lunch. We were able to get a seat outside, barely covered under an umbrella from the rain…but so worth it!

  • Katie @ Recipe for Perfection
    January 19, 2015

    What a beautiful city! Funny as it sounds, I was most intrigued by the pierogie restaurant. I love authentic pierogies and they are so much work to make from scratch. The only other option are rather bland ones from the freezer case at the grocery store. I can’t wait to start traveling in a few years when the kids get a bit older.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 19, 2015

      It doesn’t sound all that odd when you consider you blog about food. :p The pierogis really did taste homemade andte restaurant felt so cozy. I hope you get to go one day! I hear good things about Kraków too.

  • trininista
    January 17, 2015

    One year I saw a news story about a hostel being razed to the ground, killing several of the travellers staying there. That turned me off hostels for life. I never ever stayed in one and now my excuse is I am too old for hostels and work too hard. The truth is I am just too anal about cleanliness and personal space. A hostel would drive me nuts. Love the pics. McFit? My God! What’s next? McCondoms? lol. Warsaw looks lovely.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 19, 2015

      That is crazy! We had private rooms with our own bathroom in the hostels, so that helped a lot.

      Yeah, the McFit is something else. Gotta commend McDonalds’ hustle though. They are almost everywhere!

  • Sue at the Little Shack
    January 17, 2015

    What an awesome experience you have had! One day I’ll make the trip, maybe when I win the lottery. lol!-Sue

  • BritishMumUSA
    January 17, 2015

    What an awesome experience, and i can so relate to getting excited about a large beautiful room after a hostel. That said I love hosteling so that I can spend my money on food and seeing and experiencing things. The pirogues look amazing, and I hate zoos too. We don’t do zoos or aquariums, we like to see animals in the wild 🙂

    Thank you for taking me with you on this amazing journey 🙂
    xoxoxo

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 19, 2015

      I liked our hostel in CPH best. The Berlin one was in an old building with high ceilings and so loud; it also only had one mirror. One mirror for two women! No bueno. Lol Aaaand it was across the street from a club that didn’t stop thumpa-thumping until 3am. We were glad to leave that one especially!

      Thanks so much for following along, Ray!

  • Jarret Ruminski
    January 16, 2015

    McFIT. Truly, American imperialism has come full circle.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 17, 2015

      We stared at the ads for a good while, just perplexed, until Google confirmed that yes, it’s a gym. I couldn’t figure out why we don’t have them in the US. The people I saw in Warsaw looked to be in decent shape. We’re the ones with the obesity issues.

      • Jarret Ruminski
        January 24, 2015

        Yeah, I’m surprised we don’t see these things everywhere in ‘Murica. One of the mysteries of the universe.

  • Heidi
    January 16, 2015

    Sounds lovely. I’ve never been to Warsaw but it’s on my list. 🙂
    I wish we had been able to meet up… maybe next time!!!

  • Janet Burns
    January 15, 2015

    It made me want to be there. Wish I had done all that adventuring while I was young. it looked magical. I also want that lace blouse in the ad!! When will I grow up? 🙂

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