SOS TRAVEL UK

‘Wonderful Warsaw’- Poland’s Must Visit Phoenix City

I first discovered a love for Poland in 2013 on a festive family getaway to Kraków, to which Adam and I repeated the following year. Most recently I took a girls trip to Gdansk with my mum last May and the port city certainly impressed us. After spotting some cheap Ryanair flights in late 2018, we booked up for Warsaw.

With two return flights for £75 pounds total. Booking accommodation nearer the departure date with booking.com, taking the best option of paying on arrival at the hotel. We stayed at the Premiere Classe, costing us £155 for four nights with breakfast. A good deal I would say!

March came and we departed for Warsaw. With an early morning flight we arrived at Newcastle Airport at around 5 am, checking in our bags two hours before and relaxing in the Aspire Plus Lounge. Always a great idea before any flight as airports are stressful enough!! The lounge offers a tranquil and adults only environment, where you can take advantage of the hot breakfast and a Buck’s Fizz to start your travels off the right way. Aspire Plus Lounges provide a fully stocked bar service with premium drinks, free wifi and great customer service. You are allowed three hours access for a fee of £34.99 per person, well worth it and such a pleasant experience. Just after 8 am we boarded and two hours ten minutes later we landed at Warsaw Modlin Airport.

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After getting some tips off fellow bloggers, we downloaded and signed up to the Uber App prior to our trip. Upon landing we got a taxi within minutes at the touch of a button. Modlin to Warsaw city centre is a 40 km journey, which cost us 118 zloty equivalent to just over £20. There are other alternatives for transfers including a bus costing 35 zloty for a return, £7 each. On arrival at our hotel, the Premiere Classe, we checked in and dropped our bags as we wanted to get our bearings in the city. Grabbing a map from reception on our way out the door.

We stumbled upon the Warsaw Spire, a building which is the HQ for Samsung and what a piece of architecture! It is the second tallest building in Poland at 220 metres high. Within this area was a quirky Warsaw sign, a perfect photo opportunity… As well as some fantastic street art. A great first impression from Poland’s capital city.

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Map in hand we navigated our way to the Palace of Culture and Science to check out the viewing platform I had heard about on the 30 th floor. A little like our trips to Las Vegas, places were like a mirage and often seemed closer than they actually were. We were definitely going to hit our daily 10,000 steps. We bought our tickets to enter, costing 20 zloty per person and waited for the elevator to take us up. Arriving at the viewing terrace, we wandered around taking in the 360 panoramic views over Warsaw. Which is a contrast of new and old, so unbelievable to think that 85 percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed during WW2.

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We couldn’t believe how vast the city was and looked forward to exploring it during our four days. After numerous pictures and video, we decided a coffee stop was in order at the perfectly named So Coffee, on the same level. Before waiting in a busy line for our elevator ride back down. With the help of our map and Google we navigated ourselves to Nowy Swait, which had been kindly pointed out by the hotel’s receptionist as being an area of interest for food and drinks. It reminded me of Chelsea in London, with a bustling feel and very cosmopolitan. We went for cocktails at Coctail Bar Max and Dom Whisky, where there is no menu, you simply tell the bartender what spirits and fruits you like and they concoct a drink of your dreams! It is certainly eye catching, wondering if you should drink it or post it to the gram. I highly recommend a visit.

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By now it was early evening, we had decided to stay out rather than hike back to change. A stroll taking in the Friday night feeling, we ended up on the outskirts of the old town at another fabulous recommendation Klar Cocktail Bar. I can only describe the bar as a cool hidden gem, with drinks such a gin and basil smash and warmed prosecco. All the cocktails are made with fresh and seasonal natural products. You must get the truffle oil popcorn to accompany your drinks. Along with live music on Friday and Saturday evenings. Ending the evening at Restaurant Kultura nearby, enjoying an Italian cuisine in a modern and sleek setting. Ubering it back to the hotel for just over 2 pounds!

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An early rise saw us have a buffet breakfast in the hotel and head straight out to the Warsaw Rising museum, which by chance was along the street from us. This museum is a must visit, we spent over two hours taking in the history, stories which are a tribute to Warsaw’s residents and those who died for an independent Poland, in freeing it’s capital. My highlight was the 3D cinema experience, Miasto Ruin (City of Ruins) where you watched a first of it’s kind reconstructed flight over the ruins of Warsaw in 1945. It was very powerful to watch. Admission is 25 zloty per person and 10 zloty for an audio guide, which I recommend. Museums in Poland are certainly some of the best I have visited and they have wisely invested in making them interactive and thereby allowing stories of it’s past to be told to the next generation.

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Nearing midday we walked down near to the old town and took tea at the Cafe Bristol, which surprisingly was recommended in the EasyJet traveller magazine. Located inside the Hotel Bristol, this traditional tearoom had a real English feel. Enjoying a cup of Ceylon Tea, with cakes and sandwiches we throughly enjoyed ourselves and rested our weary legs a little. The hotel was built in 1901 and has an esteemed guest list, including presidents, prime ministers and stars of the screen and artists such as Picasso to name but a few. There is an installation within the lobby, which pays homage to these guests and is an ongoing piece that will evolve over time.

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It was now time to go and explore the old town, en route we took in Warsaw University, where Chopin studied. And there are benches throughout the city, that are multi functioned, they play and tell you all about the famous pianist. Such a fabulous idea! Within the old town we took in all the gorgeous buildings, with differing patterns and colours on each. Taking time to stop and gaze at the Royal Castle and Square.  We enjoyed a craft beer at Same Krafty Vis-a-Vis, another great tip within the old town. Before paying 20 zloty each to enter the Taras Widokowy, a bell tower with the best viewing platform to see over the city. We spent quite a while up here after climbing the 150 stone steps to the top, a must whilst here.

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We headed back to the hotel, via Saxon Gardens which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to all who lost their lives for Poland. The sun was setting for the day over the city and we toasted to a successful day two with pre dinner drinks.

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That evening we dined at CMA by Mateusz Gessler, Nicolette Orlemans recommended it to us and I am really thankful she did. What a cool restaurant, we loved everything about it from the atmosphere to the staff, setting and food. As it was a busy Saturday night, we managed to get a table by the chefs cooking area, it was brilliant and a great experience. The food on offer is absolutely delicious and the restaurant itself runs on the ethos of “it is a unique place, created out of pure love for eating as a celebration of life”. Their own philosophy is the dishes are prepared on the spot, in front of your own eyes from the freshest and best products. Which consists of “modern, urban cuisine combining traditional solutions with the accelerating pulse of the rhythm of the street”. We dined on dumplings with ribs, entrecôte beef, scallops, potato salad with grilled cheese and more. Divine!!

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After a real feast we took an uber to the old town and went to Podwale Bar and Books, a speakeasy that has another a sister bar in New York. Another excellent blogger tip, there was live music on upstairs. We got seated and ordered our drinks, such a great atmosphere and ended up talking to one of the musicians, who was in fact a soldier too. He told us many tales of who had played for and with, including Bill Clinton. This is what travel is about for me, meeting people and learning about others! Our evening ended on a complete high, after such a busy and productive day.

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Sunday morning and no time for lie ins, much to Adam’s dismay. We had a quick breakfast and donned our trainers for a lovely walk to Lazienki Park, this park on arrival reminded me of Hyde Park. It was huge and had many entrances, with all the embassies of the world around it. We went to investigate and found the Palace on the Isle, an Amphitheater, The Chopin Monument and much more. It was a delight to visit and we gladly wiled away a few hours here. Taking a break for a coffee. The park was busy with locals and their families, we even spotted a squirrel and Adam managed to get a picture. A beautiful start to our day.

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Whilst walking along by the embassies, we spotted Canada’s and the USA with a Ronald Reagan Statue opposite it. Along with a memorial to the Warsaw Uprising. I spotted someone selling some bagels, how could I resist… It wasn’t just one bagel it was a necklace of them!! Delicious. As we headed back into the city centre, we went to try the famous Paczki pastry. These yummy filled donuts are a must try and they had a gorgeous icing on them too.

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Our afternoon was spent in the Chopin Museum, the best interactive museum I have been too. For 22 zloty per person, we entered using a red swiping card. This gave you access to get in and out, plus use all the stations that had a red dot on them. Brilliant idea! I didn’t know a lot about the famous pianist beforehand, but I certainly left knowing much more. I learnt about his family and his childhood, listened in pods to his famous works and found out we shared on real passion for ‘travel’. He loved it too, there was even a section devoted to his trips abroad and accounts of what he did and who he met. He had a real love for the UK. The museum is over a few floors and again you can easily spend a few hours in here. There is also a listening room, where people are playing his works on a large screen. A top tip of what to see in Warsaw. As we left we saw a statue of a musical note in the garden nearby and a fabulous piece of street art devoted to Fryderyk Chopin himself. Next door was the Chopin Institute.

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After another coffee refuel, we went to watch the sunset over the city, remembering it was Sunday Sunsets on Twitter, I captured a few stunning shots to share with everyone. A cocktail was in order and we returned to our favoured haunt once more, Coctail Bar Max and Dom Whisky, not failing to impress us once again. I had a coconut cocktail and what a creation it was… Our evening was spent at Stary Dom, to which we ubered our way too. This traditional restaurant offered typical polish fare, pierogis to start and a with pork knuckle alongside refried cabbage for main. We had asked if it was large enough to share, the waitress said it wasn’t that big. On arrival it could have fed a family of four haha. Adam had his work cut out for him, in helping me eat mine too. Too full for dessert we took an uber back to Nowy Swait and enjoyed a few digestifs at Klar Cocktail Bar before bed. A relaxed end to the night and our third day in Warsaw.

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Our last full day Monday we woke early and had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before walking to the PGE Narodowy National Stadium, taking just under an hour and crossing the Vistula River over the bridge, taking in the man made beach alongside. The tours are daily at 12, 2, 4 pm and it costs 27 zloty per person, it lasts one hour and thirty minutes. Once we bought our tickets we were advised to go up to the viewing point beforehand and have a look, as our tour didn’t begin until 12 pm. We were so lucky as our guide, Raphael was fantastic. Enthusiastic, friendly and so knowledgable too. The tour gave you access all areas, the VIP section, changing rooms, pitch side and more. We both throughly enjoyed it and would certainly recommend to all. Walking back into the city centre, we went to E Wedel for my favourite hot chocolate with liqueur cherries and some of their delicious chocolates.

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Deciding on what to do next, I suggested the Neon Museum. Unfortunately it was in fact near the stadium we had just left earlier, Adam refused to walk back so you guessed it we ubered it. Arriving we were a little confused to it’s whereabouts, as it wasn’t too obvious and Google said we were here!! After asking a few people no one knew, so we wandered around until we came across it. The Neon Museum is the first in Poland and one of only a few in the world. It is a private museum that showcases and protects light advertisements after WW2. I loved it and was in my element here, it costs 13 zloty per person and is so interesting to see. I was especially thrilled to see so many SAM signs there!! It was a sign I was meant to visit.

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On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink, taking in the colourful skies above us at sunset and a fabulous view of the Palace of Culture and Science in front of us.

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Sunday evening we returned to CMA by Mateusz Gessler and enjoyed another great meal. This time of prawns, dumplings, salads, goats cheese and more. Washed down with red wine and aperol spritz. Time for a well needed rest and sleep we headed back to the hotel.

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With a very early 7.30 am Ryanair flight back to Newcastle, we pre ordered an uber to take us back to Modlin airport. The airport was a breeze and we went to wait at the gate for our flight to board, before I stocked up on a few bars of E Wedel Chocolate of course. As we landed in Newcastle after 2 hours and 40 minutes, we looked back on what was the most lovely city break in such a wonderful city that is Warsaw. I am not sure what expected before we arrived but it has so much to offer and it is a pleasure to visit. We cannot recommend enough and I am now planning a return with my mum either late 2019 or early 2020. My love for Poland grows!! Don’t hesitate, go to Warsaw!

To watch our Warsaw experience check out my YouTube Videos 

(Please note our entry to the Aspire Plus Lounge was gifted by Swissport. My opinions are my own)