Poland: the land of pierogis and packzi

I hope this post brings my Polish family a little closer to the homeland. Some of our relatives were from a neighborhood just outside of Warsaw, and Jeff and I are extremely lucky that we were able to visit Poland. I only wish I knew more of the language….singing ‘Sto lat, Sto lat…’ never really came up in regular conversation…

Our original travel plans did not include Poland. We ended up spending time in Warsaw because the flight pattern worked out to get us to a few future destinations on time. That’s the beauty of being somewhat flexible!

My first concern upon landing in Warsaw was stuffing my face with pierogi. ALL OF THE PIEROGI! Jeff is a little more practical than I am, and first we checked into the Warsaw Marriott where we were staying for 1 free night (per our credit card). After checking in, we went around the corner to a little café and had lunch outside. I was a little disappointed when my only options were meat or spinach pierogi. Since no meal is complete without meat, we experienced a salty, minced beef concoction in these dumplings. They were good- but I was excited that I had 4 days to experience more pierogi.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hotel. Due to our elite member status (thank you government travel!) we had unlimited access to dessert hour, happy hour and breakfast the next day. We ate like it was going out of style, which wasn’t completely necessary. It was great to get a few free meals, but Poland is extremely cheap compared to other European countries. The average dinner for Jeff and I cost a total of $17. More importantly, the average ice cream cone is about $1.50.

We only spent 1 night at the Marriott, and then packed up and walked less than a half mile to an Airbnb that Jeff had booked for 3 nights. We weren’t sure what to expect, as this was our first Airbnb experience- but it was awesome! We were right downtown and Warsaw is a very walkable city if you are willing to put miles on your shoes. Pedestrian warning: instead of crossing the street on the surface, you enter what I dubbed ‘The Polish Underground.’ You walk under the street to get to the other side, passing a bunch of shops and food stalls that are underground. These walkway’s sort of look like elongated subway stations.

Welcome to the Polish underground....

A common theme to travels so far seems to be guided walking tours. Warsaw was no exception! We had the best walking tour of the trip so far when we joined the Free Old Town walking tour. Our guide was extremely informative and the tour lasted 2 hours in the 30 C heat (80ish degrees).

Old Town in Warsaw is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world that is not original. The Nazi’s destroyed 80% of the entire city, and almost 100% of the Jewish part of town during WWII. Old town has been reconstructed mostly during the 1960’s and 1970’s to look as it would pre-war.

Photos: Old Town Warsaw, Walking Tour, Jewish Ghetto Uprising Monument

Last standing piece of the Jewish Ghetto wall. Currently located in the middle of an apartment complex. 

During our tour we learned about famous Poles, some living in Warsaw during the war: Fredrick Chopin, Marie Curie.

After the tour, I asked the tour guide where to find the best pierogis in town. Do you sense a common theme here??? So we went to dinner and this time tasted spinach, kraut, meat and potato pierogis. The potato were the best. For you Janer’s- it was like taking Grandma’s potato recipe and mixing it 1:1 with the cheese recipe. DELICIOUS! These were only served boiled, and I think they would have been a little tastier if they were fried. However, (I didn’t think it was possible), Jeff ordered the globki (stuffed cabbage) and it was even better than the pierogi.

More pierogis! 

The next day we spent some time catching up on emails and did a little walking in the city. At night we walked down to Fountain Park to see a water and light show at the fountain.

Fountain Park

During our final full day in Warsaw, we made a pit stop for paczki before went on another free walking tour, this one focusing on the Jewish Ghetto during WWII. Unfortunately, this tour was not as good as the previous tour we had taken with the same company, but you can’t win them all! We did learn a little bit more about the Jewish plight during the war. Luckily, Jeff and I had walked to the only remaining section of the Ghetto wall a few days earlier. It’s still eerie that the whole city was reduced to rubble and nothing we saw was authentic. Warsaw was the third most destroyed city during WWII, behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Jewish population is currently around 2,000 compared to the 375,000 pre-war.

What was authentic were the pierogi and paczki!!!!! Warning: NOT PALEO

We had a great stay in Warsaw and suggest it to those interested in WWII history and Polish culture. While we didn’t visit any museums while we were there, they have many and come highly recommended. Poland is also easy on the wallet and we didn’t have to feel bad eating out once or twice a day. If you are into the party scene, apparently bars are open 24 hours, as proved by the large amount of drunk people hanging out in the bars and streets as we walked to the bus station at 4am to catch a plane to the UK. Next adventure: Scotland. I hope you packed your kilt.

-Cara 

Modes of transportation used: Plane, bus, subway

Total amount spent in Poland (including flight):  $449.40 USD

Avg.: $58.89 USD per day- we spent 4 days in Warsaw

Types of pierogi eaten: Ruskie (potato and cheese), spinach, meat, sauerkraut