Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Short stop over in Warsaw

It's grey, cold and raining. A great time of the year to visit Warsaw, I thought sitting in a taxi from the airport on my way into town. And yet, I must say I was immediately taken by the charm of the old houses and the cobbled streets as we got to Warsaw's New Town, a neighbourhood dating from the 15th century, where my hotel was located. I was staying at Le Regina - a boutique hotel housed in the beautiful arcaded 18th century Mokrowski Palace and a great place to unwind. Plus it has fantastic weekend deals and lies smack bang in the historic centre of Warsaw - the Stare Miasto.

My location was perfect for exploring Warsaw's historical monuments - the Royal Castle, St John's Cathedral and the Citadel. It's impressive to see how well the city was rebuilt after the total destruction by the Nazis during World War Two. It really looks and feels like the 17th and 18th century - and yet it's barely 50 years old. Restoration was indeed so successful that UNESCO granted the Old Town World Heritage status in 1980.

Freta 33, New Town, Warsaw
Exploring Stare Miasto, makes you peckish. Ulica Freta, where Marie Curie was born, connects the Old Town with New Town and has a great range of food choices. I checked out Freta 33 - a small arty restaurant which serves moderately priced Mediterranean food. Try the penne with mixed seeds, sun dried tomatoes and spinach for a treat.

And of course I also had to sample Polish cuisine. I went to Restauracja Pod Samsonem a local restaurant just down the road known for its tasty Polish food infused with a Jewish flavour. I had a choice of marinated fish, pierogi and Polish blinis. Loved it! And also the vodka shots, that I hadn't ordered but our enthusiastic waiter was keen to pour down my throat…

But his enthusiasm evaporated quicker than you could down a shot, when he saw the tip I left. Next time I'll definitely have to properly work out the exchange rate between Euros and Polish Zloties before trying to leave a tip. Or maybe Poland will have the Euro by then.


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