So, in possibly my craziest mini adventure yet, I went to Poland for the afternoon on Saturday.
I have to be honest, Poland has never really appealed to me as a destination (despite a lot of my friends being Polish/of Polish origin), but when I saw £35 return flights on Skyscanner (where else?), I decided that a day in Poland would be a perfect way to experience the Christmas markets of Warsaw and to hang out in a largely new city with minimal commitment. As I am nothing if not a travel commitment phobe. As it turns out, I ended up spending the afternoon there rather than the day…but first, the adventure.
I got up early and drove to Stansted, parking at the Hilton Stansted car park which I would absolutely recommend (Fiver for the day?! Hell yes!). The flight was at 8.45am but me being a big fan of airports, I just had to get there early to mosey around duty free and try and get cheap access to a lounge. I flew with Ryanair who have seriously dropped standards in recent years – it used to be that I preferred them over EasyJet but actually Stelios’ airline has far surpassed Ryanair. Namely for the shabby seats and interior, the ridiculously militant way they track hand luggage, and the fact that the flight was delayed for an hour while we were sat on it, with zero explanation. Grrrrr.
We finally got to Warsaw Modlin airport at 1pm, where I took a coach for the grand total of £6 each way (with touch screen entertainment on the back of each seat – I was VERY impressed!). There are a few coach terminals in the airport arrivals side, but I would recommend buying the tickets online here to save time and money. The coach dropped us off outside the Palace of Culture and Science (picture above!) where I went for a wander.
Warsaw as a city is old, but the architecture within it is new (considering that 85% of the city was bombed/obliterated in the Warsaw Uprising and they had to rebuild pretty much the whole city). There are some pretty Stalinist buildings as a result, which obviously as a committed Deutschophile and fan of Eastern Europe I’m into, but appears to be quite different from Krakow where the architecture is a lot more old-school. I didn’t end up going to the Old Town which was a shame, as it looks as though it was a lot more traditional in style (but I guess I now have a reason to go back!). I have to say I didn’t explicitly love the city for this reason – nothing about it stood out hugely to me, but it was fun to visit somewhere I’d never been before, and it was a good little taster of Polish culture.
In terms of activities and things to do, see a little selection below of the kind of stuff I got up to in the afternoon, as well as absolutely obliterating my Fitbit count.
I would recommend going to Warsaw if you’re particularly interested in 20th Century history and cheap beer, but if you want a more authentic Polish experience, I hear Krakow is a lot prettier – plus cheaper because it’s not the capital. Warsaw wasn’t wholly expensive but I’m sure prices were slightly inflated than elsewhere in Poland. Make sure to take your zloty!
SAFETY OUT OF FIVE – 5/5 – I didn’t feel uncomfortable once, aside from the hundreds of times people spoke Polish to me.
COST OUT OF FIVE – £££. As mentioned above, I think prices were slightly inflated in the city as opposed to other areas in Poland, but they were still relatively cheap (a fruit tea with real apple and a huge slice of homemade quiche cost me the equivalent of £4).
RECOMMENDATIONS – the Palace of Culture and Science was beautiful and even more gorgeous at night, but to be honest I mostly walked around and did a bit of shopping. Hardly a Polish culture vulture now! I’ve heard that the Old Town is well worth visiting, though…
Until next time!