Warsaw the capital of Poland is a dynamic city with a troubled history. Vanished and destroyed by the Germans in wartime, the old city was rebuild based on 18th century paintings from Italian painter Bernardo Belloto (1722-1780). Before visiting this city I had zero expectations. So here are some of my discoveries I did not expect to find or see before coming to Warsaw.
Being in Brussels for a couple of time I was very charmed about the roughness and hidden gems like precarious street art. Here I found nice street art which is pretty serious too. In fact, traditional street art played an influential part in the advertising history of Poland during the communist era. Nowadays you can find nice art in Praga district. Warsaw even hosts a street art festival every summer Street Art Doping and they have some street art guided tours which are sometimes in English.
I’ve spotted many Polish on a bike commuting from home to work or to public transport. Some having their own other using public bikes. These public bike stations are everywhere in the city, the prices are low and the concept is simple.You rent a bike with your downloaded app called Veturilo. The instructions are very clear when taking and returning a bike from a station. For the first hour you just pay 1zt which is like 25 cents. Nice and cheap but I warn ya cycling can be a little awkward and challenging. I mean they have separate cycling paths but can end suddenly end in the middle of somewhere which means, like me, u will be on drive ways between buses, cars and trams honking and speeding besides you.
3. Milk bars “bar mleczny.”
Milk bars or “bar mleczny.” Means dining on a budget. These eating places origins from the post war era. A communist concept to provide cheap meals to the mass and workers which still exists. Here you order in Polish and find local cuisine. Aside from being cheap, milk bars gives a idea and insight of the daily life of Poles under Communism. One of the few leftovers of Poland’s communist era. You can find one nearby the old town.
4. Vegetarian food
I have been to places where vegetarian options were hard to find. Somehow I had this feeling about Warsaw too. I was totally misjudged! Also Insiders told me that unlike 10 years ago, today vegan an vegetarian restaurants are easy to find. According to the veggie search website www.happycow.net there are 81 vegan eateries in Warsaw. In The Hague we have only 3. For sure I have to discover more places but I found this potato place, Groole, very tasty and nice. They serve stuffed potatoes with a lot of vegetarian and vegan options like hummus, beetroot pesto, spinach, baked beans, olives. Smacznego
5. Czekolada (chocolate)
Good quality chocolate from Poland? Yes for sure!
For instance, E.Wedel chocolate shop and salon (Ul. Szpitalna 8) in Warsaw's city center. This place from 1878 has a main shop and three tea rooms where visitors can test its three hot chocolate flavors (bitter, natural and light). The hot chocolate is so delicious almost hardly to believe it’s Polish.
Another one is Karmello located in Chmielna 11 street. An upscale chocolatier which you also can find in Krakow. You will for sure impress your friends or family taking a box of this kind home.
So this is my shortlist of suprises in Warsaw.
If you have anything to add for me to discover the next time while visiting Warsaw, let me know.