Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Weekend in Warsaw - How To!

Due to family commitments we had to take Sue’s annual birthday trip a week early this year but by mid January we still hadn’t decided on a destination well that was until we were invited to the Polish Embassy in Dublin to sample the wonderful hospitality of the Polish people. 

While we were there we learned a lot about Poland as they showcased some of their beautiful cities. We decided there & then we were going to Poland so I started researching the best city at the best price for a visit in early March, I quickly realised Warsaw was our destination!

The Best Way to Visit Warsaw on a Budget:

My first port of call as usual was Skyscanner; it took me less than 2 minutes to work out that Warsaw was the cheapest to visit in March so I booked return flights from Dublin to Warsaw costing just €55.38pp flying out on Friday 10th March at 17:15 returning Sunday 12th March at 21:45.

Where to stay in Warsaw:

I completed the usual search of hotel comparison sites like Trivago, Hotels Combined etc but it was on Amoma.com that I found a great bargain. Two nights B&B for two at the four star Hilton Warsaw Hotel for just £117/€134. The hotel is fabulous; it boasts numerous bars & restaurants along with a swimming pool, spa & gym also onsite. We had a spotless, deluxe room on the 19th floor with beautiful views over the city.

They were so kind to us and sent a bottle of wine to our room when they learned that we were celebrating Sue’s birthday. The bathroom was high end luxury complete with separate enclosed shower unit & bath. Breakfast was one of the finest spreads I’ve seen in a hotel way outstripping other Hiltons we’ve stayed in around the world. The Old Town is a 20 minute walk from the hotel or grab a taxi from the rank at the front door of the hotel for 17zł/€4.

How to get from Modlin Airport to Warsaw:

There are numerous buses operating from Modlin airport, you can buy a return ticket online or directly from the driver for roughly €16pp return for the 45 minute journey. You can also get an Uber but be careful as flights arrive in Modlin the prices increase drastically likewise the wait times. We priced a taxi and were quoted approximately 320zł/€76 by one driver even though taxi fares are supposed to be fixed from the airport. 

Luckily another driver overheard and offered his services for 160zł/€37, having given him sufficient side eye, we arrived to our hotel in style in a luxury blacked out Mercedes van. I made sure to get his card for our return journey, Zbigniew Kolacz, Tel: 0048 512007960 or mail zbyszek0_3@wp.pl to book - Tell him the crazy Irish ladies with the side eyes sent you!

Out and About in Warsaw:

Warsaw is not a city that you fall in love with at first sight you have to learn about its history and then you’ll have a deep compassion for the city & its people. We did just that on an Orange Umbrella free walking tour. It’s a very unusual city unlike most other European capitals. The New Town has a wonderful skyline that could easily compete with parts of New York for the amount of skyscrapers in such a small area. 

The Mermaid of Warsaw, fabled to be a Sister of the Copenhagen be-scaled one keeps watch over Warsaw
The Old Town is actually not that old. It was rebuilt less than 65 years ago by the people of Warsaw under Soviet influence after 85% of its buildings were raised to the ground during WWII. The Old Town is now the youngest UNESCO listed Heritage Site, due to the diligence of the restoration!

In the heart of the Old Town you’ll find Market Square and the monument of the Warsaw Mermaid the city’s symbol. Our guide Martyna was a fountain of knowledge and she held everyone’s attention for the full 2 hour tour of the Old Town. You'll see a clip of our tour HERE. There are lots of other tour routes and indeed other companies that run walking tours of Warsaw but one thing is for sure, you’d be mad not to join one!

On Sunday we visited the Uprising Museum located a 5 minute walk from our hotel. The museum tells the history of the events preceding, during and after the uprising in Warsaw with hundreds of photographs, film footage from eye witnesses and a 3D audiovisual recreation of the destruction of Warsaw during WWII. 

As soon as you enter the museum the sights & sounds transport you back to 1944 Poland. They’ve an impressive amount of artifacts and a replica B-24 Liberator. With men & women recounting their own tales of rebel fighting and their entire city rising up, if you want to learn about the determination of the Polish people this should be on your list of places to visit. Normal admission is priced at 20zł/€4.66pp, entry is free on Sundays.

Where to eat and drink in Warsaw:

During our tour Martyna told us all about milk bars that you’ll still find dotted around the capital, they are small, inexpensive restaurants serving traditional Polish home cooked meals costing about €3 for a 3 course meal. Pop into any bakery for Polish cakes and coffee costing less than €4 each.

We stumbled upon a Bobby Burger joint and decided it looked good for lunch, it was delicious. We had burgers, fries & beers that cost us just €15 in total! 

We were lucky with the location of our hotel as Tapas Gastrobar was right next door; it was so nice we ended up dining there twice with our bill never topping €20 for oodles of Tapas & wine. 

The Pierogi (dumplings, a popular Polish dish) are superb in Karmnik a trendy bar/restaurant in the Old Town. It’s a bit more expensive because of its location but still reasonably priced at €16 for two servings of Pierogi and two drinks.

Well that was our wonderful weekend in Warsaw, have you been? Did we miss anything?

One thing is for sure though; Warsaw was the first of many visits to Poland for this Travel Writer!

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