Finally, started checking off some of the eastern European countries! I didn’t travel much in first half of 2019, so I decided to go to a so-called summer school, which was held in Warsaw, at the end of July.
I was happy to find out that there is a direct connection between Ljubljana and Warsaw, so in no time, I was already getting lost in the Poland’s capital. I was surprised by the size of the city, and I must say, was even more impressed with the city itself. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find under the so called eastern block, but I was presently surprised. The city has one of the best public transports I’ve ever seen, I travelled with boat, bus, train, tram and even a scooter (skiro), which became really popular that summer. My hotel, or rather apartment, I just love these, compared to the standard hotels, was in a modern new skyscraper about 20 min walking distance from city center. It didn’t have the best view, but it made it up with a spacious living room and kitchen area, not that I needed to cook anything the time I spent there.
The summer school took place in a big expo center in the outskirts of the city, or if not really outskirts at least 1h from the city center by public transport. Here I got a bit of the eastern side vibe, but it wasn’t that bad. The school took place for most of the day, but I managed to skip a boring lecture from time to time and had an extra 3 days before and after to explore the city a bit more.
As I said before, the public transport is really well-designed, especially if you compare it to the Malta’s. You can also buy a 10-day transport pass, which gives you access to all the transporting options available and is actually not that expensive. Well, not exactly all the transport options, every I went I saw tons of electric scooters lying around. They weren’t that popular in Slovenia yet, so I was surprised by the numbers I saw here. They were everywhere, literary everywhere and everyone was using them. They weren’t exactly cheap, about 1€ per 10 minutes, which in the end costs about the same as using Uber, but it’s much more fun. After a couple of days of watching them I had to try them and as one would expect it was quite fun. The city consists of many cycling roads, so it’s not a problem to drive it, but the best part was driving alongside the river. Later that summer, when I returned to Slovenia, they started popping up all over Ljubljana as well, strangely, this year (2020) I don’t think I saw any of them here in Ljubljana.
The city itself is about 70 years old, it got completely destroyed during the WW2, so I don’t think there are many (if any) buildings older than that. But somehow they managed to renovate the city center, to look like it did before. The rest of the city is a mixture of the Soviet architecture and modern skyscrapers, with lots of parks and trees all over the place. It actually doesn’t look that bad place to live in, which is especially surprising if you consider how large it is. The center of city is “decorated” by big ugly skyscraper, I the Poles call it ugly sister. It’s one of the 5 skyscrapers that Stalin had build in various cities of eastern block, to show of how great the soviet architecture is.
Another thing I was pleasantly surprised was food. This was a reall surprise, I did not expect such a good food from Poland. I’m not sure if it plays a bit on my Slavic roots, although I thin my food of the childhood was leaning more toward the Italian cuisine. Anyway, I found one of my favourite dishes here, called Pierogi. It’s something like tortellini, filled with many many different fillings. Omg, during my stay I had so many of them, I think toward the end I became like 5% pierogi at one point. They have this traditional Polish food, although I think they only server pierogi, chain restaurant called Zapiecek. The food is surprisingly good, and the serving staff (well more or less girls) wear this traditional (I think), red dresses, its quite fun, definitely recommend. Sadly I didn’t take any picture of them, but yea if you’re in Warsaw it’s a must do. The pierogi come in numerous varieties, from the ones in the soup, to fried / cooked ones to the ones eaten as desert. I think they have more than 90 different kinds in Zapiecek. The first time I went to try them, I ordered like 30 different ones, the girl couldn’t believe I managed to eat them, haha. At the end, she teased me, if I want ice cream with them, I still regret I turned her down. Anyway, besides pierogi as in any large city you can find all different kinds of cuisine, and as always a traditional dish that you’ve eaten in at least 4 other countries as a traditional dish. This time, it was nothing else but Blejska kremšnita.
Don’t think there is much more to add to this. I was really pleasantly surprised by the city, it’s modern, nice and not that expensive (maybe a little cheaper than Ljubljana, 5%). I had lots of fun visiting it, the night-life is surprisingly good, there were lots of festivals and events going on in the evenings at different parks and in the old town. You can get by with English well enough, although you can see or hear the difference compared to Scandinavia or Central Europe, even with the younger population. But if you know a few Slavic words and can do the Italian hand gesture talk, you get by just fine.
Well, not much more to say, expect I definitely recommend a visit.