Warsaw – Pierogi, dumplings, Dim sum, oh my!

I’ve woken up around 6:00 AM, mainly because of phone alarms.  The room has cooled down somewhat then I drift back off to sleep.  That or the fact that I was up until 4:00 AM watching YouTube videos.

I’m up again at 08:30 AM, and I have a plan.  That plan is, let’s get out and explore.  Then come back and pick up my stuff and go to the hotel.

But first, breakfast!  And I find it in a cafe named “How U Doin’”  Yes it is a ripped right out of that TV show Friends.  It even has a small replica of the couch in there.  They have a decent selection of food including croissants.  Chocolate croissants! And Coffee!  What else do you need to start the day? Answer: Nothing!
They have decent WiFi here too.  Which means I happily recommend this place for your morning fix of coffee and sitting down and planning out your day.
I sit here and try to drum up some more bits and pieces to do with my day.  Because, well, I still have no idea.  A little digging though, and I have some ideas.  I head towards a large park.  And Google Maps is playing nice by not sending me down silly roads.

Łazienki Park (Royal Baths Park) itself is large.  It is, in fact, the largest park in Warsaw, and houses many buildings and statues/monuments in and around it.

Buildings like: The Chinese Gardens

 

Palace in the Lake


Or a naked gladiator with a peacock on it.
Wait.. what?

Monument to Frederick Chopin. Even when you have an airport named after you already.
They also had a whole itinerary of shows, and bands playing all over the park.  And I missed the first one of the day because I really really had to use the toilet.  Because, well the ones in the Hostel are dire.  And I just didn’t think about it when I was in the How U Doin Cafe.
It’s time to leave.  I head down towards the Palace of Culture and Science.  During which I am debating whether to stop by the hostel and get my stuff now, and check into the hotel (it’s not yet 12:00 PM).  Or go straight to the Palace of Culture and Science, AKA, the building that sticks out like a sore… ooh is that soft-serve ice cream that lady has?  Where can I get some?  My train of thought got derailed, and was replaced with the thought of “where’s the ice cream from?”.  And then I see the little hole in the wall.
They have two flavours: vanilla or mango.  And it cost 7 zloty (or less than £2)!  Considering how much I spend on artisanal ice-cream/softserve back in London, I am, in all honesty, beaming.

 

I decide to go straight to the Palace of Culture and Science, even though I have no idea what you can do there.  I think they have a cafe, so that’s a good step.
I take photos of the front of this imposing building.

It kinda reminds me of the building in the Ghostbusters movie (original one please).  I continue to take photos from more acute angles then finally go inside.

Turns out, it’s a cinema… Right.
I (as well few other people ahead of me) realise there are different entrances on different sides of the building.  The culture side is on the right of the building.  And it has a queue going out the door.  Apparently, because people really want to pay for a view of the city from up there.  I have no such desires since I’ll be at the Marriott…. Soon™
There’s also an exhibition showing various characters from movies and other media.

Built out of metal parts… as you do.

I was more interested in… the Caffe Nero.  Because I could get an iced coffee.
Then I after taking a short walk to look for something to eat, I end up at another Cafe.
Cafe Etna is hipster central, but they also have free wi-fi, so I fire up the laptop to download and edit some of the photos I’ve taken already.  And hopefully find somewhere to eat.

Now I have been spending most of the day thinking that I must eat Polish food.  To the extent I’ve walked straight pass some very nice restaurants doing different cuisines.

But now I’m on my way to Hala Koszyki,  A trendy indoor food market boasting some fantastic restaurants.

If I can’t find anything here, then it’s my own bloody fault.
Please find something, please find something.

 

Pierogi!!!!  A lovely stall called Nadziane, who are making them, and cooking them from fresh!

Look at them!  Meat filled packs of goodness.  Served with caramelised onions, and a lovely sour cream.  Just so you know, I’m eating each one whole!

And I also ordered flatcakes because why not?  It’s all new to me!  The lady serving me is also wondering who I’m eating with because I’ve ordered enough food for 3 people to snack on.


I am so done already after that food.  Thankfully, it’s only a 10-minute stroll from…
… is that rain?

 

Yup, that’s rain

5 minutes.  That’s how far I was from the hostel.  Goddammit.  In the end, I had to brave the rain.  Which had eased up.  And by eased up I mean I’m still getting soaked.  But not so much that my backpack didn’t soak through, saving my camera gear, and laptop! What, you didn’t think I was gonna leave it in the hostel?

Speaking of the hostel… adios.  And hello Marriott!

I get to shower properly, and my god that bed… I forgot what it’s like to sleep on a king-sized bed with all the pillows to myself.  And notably!  Air-con.  It’s like 33C at the moment!
After a few hours of doing nothing except lie down on a king-sized bed with all the pillows to myself it was time to go out.

The first port of call, dessert!  Specifically, chocolate.  And the best place to try this is Pijalnia Czekolady E.Wedel on Szpitalna.  Look, work with me here, this is what I’ve been told.  Wedel and co. have been doing this since 1851 and they definitely do it right
I mean look at this.


And this

And no-one to share it with (sorrynotsorry).  Far too rich, far too decadent.  Far. Too. Good!  And they do chocolates to take away too.  Which would have been an option if it wasn’t 33C heat outside.

Now it’s time do more sightseeing.  I’m heading towards the Old Town, and also looking for dinn… what on earth is happening here?

I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone was speaking english.  If I let my imagination go, I’m then thinking “pagan festival”

Moving on we have this street name


Go on, have a guess how Google pronounces that last word.  #sobloodyimmature.
Anyway, as I was saying:  The Old Town district is arguably the most popular district in the city.  Helped, in no little part by the fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


And there are restaurants here if you so wish.  All of them have people in there, and from what I can tell.  There wasn’t a real stand out one.  The food all looks good, and the recommendation is to try some of the “bigos” stew.  Pick a place, and try it!  If only I could follow my advice so easily.

Also Ice Cream

If however,  you want an eclectic choice of restaurants, you should head to Nowy Swiat.
Nowy Swiat is a long street that has restaurants, cafes, and dessert places going on and on and on.  Burgers, steaks, chinese, Vietnamese, gelato, cheesecakes, and of course Polish restaurants are all at your beck and call.  And they all smell so good!!!

I’m eating at Zapiecek!  There are a few of them around the place (including in Old Town).  They do Polish food, in particular, Pierogie.  So I offend the lovely waitress who spent a minute or two describing the different pierogie they have by not ordering any.  Since I had a massive plate back at Nazdianes I was aiming for something new.  Like the pork goulash with a large potato pancake.


Goulash is actually a Hungarian dish, which the Poles adopted and made their own.  And for me, it was a great choice.  Now if only the lighting was better for me to get a decent photo.
Suitably stuffed, I head back to the hotel, taking notes of what else is on offer on the streets.  Bubble tea, tons of ice cream, patisseries.  Tomorrow might get messy
Back at the hotel, I’ve grabbed a drink at the overly priced Panoramic Bar on the 40th floor.  To its credit, it does have a brilliant view of the city.  Too bad it’s filled to the brim, and noisy, so trying to get any kind of photos was not going to happen.
So I got some from my room.

Before heading to bed.

My last day in Warsaw and I’m starting early again.  I say early, it’s 8:00 AM.  The rule is simple, if you want fresh baked goodies, then you get up for them.
I’m heading to Charlotte Menora.  The hype being that they bake everything themselves, and have a fantastic breakfast menu.  They’re a 12-minute walk from the hotel, pass the other side of the Palace of Culture and Science.  They did not disappoint!

I’m ordering Charlotte’s Breakfast.

A selection of breads, in this case, a croissant, a baguette, and some dark rye bread. Along which I’m given a choice of jams, and other spreads.  Chocolate anyone?  Also, coffee!
This is also the point where I question my seating decisions.  I really should have learned from the foodie meet up last week…  LIGHT!


Also, I should have picked a lower table.  No way was I gonna be able to get a flat lay shot from the high table.  Meh, next time (yes there will be a next time).

Instead, I take the photos I CAN do, and then sit here, enjoy my breakfast, and the intoxicating smell of stuff being baked.  While watching the baker prep some stuff to bake.


Seriously don’t lose control here and buy one of everything.  The food coma could already be real.  And it’s not even 09:30AM.

Back at the hotel, I’m in no rush to get back outside.  Regardless of the short time I have left in Warsaw I have no desire to rush straight back out.  The heat is creeping back towards the mid-30s so I want to be economical with what I do.
I’m going back to the Old Town, to see a bit more of it.  And I’m going to have lunch at Specjały Regionalne.  A restaurant that does various Polish dishes from different regions.  I noticed them when walking back to the hotel last night, so I decided to get more food there.  Old Town isn’t really different from last night.  Just that there are models running around in their underwear for the TV show: Top Model.


Also, it seems easier to find more food places to eat.

Especially hidden ones.

But, I’m set on eating at Specjały Regionalne.  So I head back there and after little to no decision, I order the braised pork knuckle.  Mainly because I saw it on lots of menus in the Old Town.  And I was actually interested to see if I would get a whole knuckle or just a few slices of meat.

Right… challenge accepted then!

I can barely move, but it was so worth it!
After getting back to the hotel and chilling in the air-conditioned foyer, I jump in an Uber to the airport.  A trip that took 12 minutes, and cost me about 20 zloty (or about 5 quid). And wait, patiently to go home.

I leave Poland thinking to myself, meh, is that it.  An Old Town, and some delicious food?  My first reaction when talking to friends and family (besides the debacle of the hostel), is that it’s not been my best trip.  But that’s my own fault.  That and the stupid heat.  There are far more places to visit, and things to do in Warsaw.  More than enough, that on reflection.  I would like to go back.

If anything, for that pork knuckle!  And the Chocolate!  And the Pierogi!

 

Follow me on

Instagram @jimboiuk and twitter @jimboiuk for all my foodie stops.

Also check out the following places mention in the article and let me know if you plan on visiting them

  • @halakoszyki – fantastic food hall
  • @charlotte_bistro – brilliant bakery and bistro
  • @e.wedel – some of the greatest chocolate ever

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