Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What to do in Warsaw: Part I

I really struggled with putting together an itinerary for our weekend trip to Warsaw. Though I sat and stared at tourism information for hours, nothing was really jumping out at me. So my usual super-organized and planning self left for Warsaw without a real inclination for what I was about to witness.

Honestly, I think it was better that way. Yes, I usually like to know what a city has to offer so that I make sure not to miss out on anything worthwhile, but at the same time, it’s nice to wander aimlessly around a beautiful city and follow whatever whim catches your eye/nose/ear.  Warsaw is a city full of sensory information, and I’m afraid that if we had a detailed plan mapped out, we may have missed out on several memories. Over the next two days I will outline just a few of the things that we stumbled upon in Warsaw.
Parks. Warsaw is known as Europe’s greenest city due to the amount of parks and designated green spaces in the city limits. Our hotel was situated right across from the largest of these, Lazienki Krolewskie (Royal Baths). Since the park was so close to our hotel, we headed there on Saturday morning for a quick jog. I was surprised to see a ‘no dogs’ sign on the park gate, and thought that seemed rather unfriendly.

We had dinner that night with Warsaw residents and work colleagues of Jonathan's, and we asked about this restriction. Apparently, Warsaw designates between parks for recreation and parks for relaxation. Lazienki is evidently for relaxation, and not only are you not allowed to walk your dog in the park, you are also not allowed to run in it. Oops.
Sure enough, when I went back to look at the restriction signs, it seems that there is an X through a jogger. You are also not allowed to roller blade, sit on the grass, listen to music, bicycle, or do tai chi.

So what are you allowed to do in the park? Sit on a park bench and read a good book. Stroll hand in hand with your sweetheart on a sunny day. Admire amazing sculptures placed throughout the gardens.
Listen to piano concerts. Watch opera performances.
Visit a floating palace.
Feed red squirrels.
Eat gelato. Drink beer. Gaze at peacocks.
And take lots and lots of pictures.  

Over the weekend, I managed to do all of the above mentioned activities and I could see Lazienki Park becoming a favorite spot of mine if we were ever to move to Warsaw, though I’d still be bummed to have to leave my dogs behind. 

Not all of Warsaw's parks prohibit dogs. We also visited the dog friendly Saxon Gardens which is the oldest park in the city and houses the tomb of the unknown soldier. 
Eat pierogis. When I first started asking advice for our Warsaw trip, I kept hearing over and over again: “You have to try pierogis!”. It wasn’t until the day I left for my trip that I actually took the time to look up what a pierogi is. It’s basically a traditional Polish pastry stuffed with various goodies, mostly meat- though you can get vegetarian and dessert ones as well. They come boiled or baked depending on your preference. Within an hour of arriving in Poland, I was seated at a restaurant staring down my first pierogi.
This one was boiled with minced beef and cottage cheese. It was pretty delish, and what I like to classify as “soul food”. Not satisfied with just one variety, we decided to stop later in the night at this restaurant we found in Old Town in order to try some baked pierogis.
Though I preferred the baked crust to the boiled one, I made a mistake in ordering something with ‘pickle’ listed in the ingredients.
The Poles are fond of their pickles but I am not so keen and found the minimal ingredient to be a bit overpowering. And that was the end of my brief and intense love affair with pierogis.

That's all for today, but come back tomorrow for a recap on the big ticket tourist items of Old Town and the Warsaw Rising Museum. Here's a sneak peak:

1 comment:

  1. Looks surprisingly charming! Can't wait to see Part II