Warsaw, there is something cheap

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter III Part II

Warsaw, there is something cheap

Travel to Eastern Europe might require one to restlessly protecting their personal belongings, but the lower standard of living is guiltily enjoyable. Jiann Chyuan shares a refreshing discovery of enjoyment in Warsaw.

City: Warsaw
Country: Poland
Currency: Polish złoty (1€ = 3.4zł)
Travel dates: 30 Dec 2007 – 2 Dec 2007
Accommodation: Nathan’s Villa Hostel
Travel buddies: Egon, Clare, Rahma, Siddharth, Stella, Meghan, Paulina, Pia, Kim

Caption: First escalator in Warsaw? Hmm...

Last week post was very exciting for me as I think it was the best travel entry so far. Of course, credits should be given to Warsaw itself, as the capital is definitely having an immense story galore awaiting eager exploration.

As mentioned in Part I, security is of priority when traveling within Eastern Europe. The fact that I was no longer belonging to Scandinavia; arguably the safest region in the world really put me into slight despair. Despite the argument that I have had an extremely positive impression towards Warsaw, my sense of security didn’t loosen up. However, there was one thing which had got loosen up; my wallet.

If the retrieval of sense of security has to be compensated, lower living standard in Warsaw had magically done an immaculate job. Inherited the newly formed and enforced policy from Stockholm; one-proper-meal-per-city, I have had enjoyed not one, but three luxurious meals within three days of travel, although it could actually go up to four. The secret: thanks to the cheap prices.

Caption: Buffet in Babalu Restaurant (left) and Paulina at the right.

However, the drastic adjustment of price didn’t strike into the mind instantly. I remember I was still struggling to lower the soaring high expenses in Scandinavia by having a 5zł baguette from an itty-bitty corner food store, in one of the most complex underground city during the first day.

The underground city is another fascination in Warsaw. If travelling above ground where constant battle with wide and busy streets gives you enough headaches, you should really try to navigate the non navigable underground city of Warsaw. I guarantee that this is an ultimate test of patience, especially when you are in a rush.

Perhaps it was constructed during WWII, the underground system is buried entirely under the city centre of Warsaw. It is really challenging to imagine whether the Palace of Culture and Science is just right above you when you are fighting to find an exit in the underground. The underground today has transformed into the busiest trading centre in Warsaw, with literally thousands of stores selling lower quality goods. Price, needless to say, is cheap.

Caption: U Szwejka Restaurant (left) which I will definitely go back and tender pork knuckle.

Deviated from the main topic, let’s back to food. It was very lucky to have travelled together with Paulina, a Polish girl who I met in Trondheim. Although she is not originated from Warsaw, by speaking Polish language, she was certainly a living walking guide for my travel in Warsaw. And thanks to her, cash had been repetitively chunked out from my wallet.

The first night, it was a buffet dinner with chef cooking your choice of food at Babalu, live in front of you. Fancy, isn’t it? The second night, unfortunately, was something I missed, the famous Welder chocolate night, where others had got to drink almost purely melted chocolate drink, at insanely cheap prices. The third day afternoon, lunched at U Szwejka, it was my best meal in the entire winter trip. Let me reinforce the statement by repeating that it was the best meal, in the whole month. The tender pork knuckle which I ordered, heavenly scrumptious! And the third night, it was the dumpling like pierogi at old town.

Caption: Inside pierogi restaurant (left) and pierogis. My modesty restrained me from taking photo of the sexy waitress.

Pierogi might sound a little bizarre to you, but believe me, it is merely a food similar to shui-kao, only with different filling. In fact, the dazzling choice of fillings was so confusing to me, which then I resorted to order four different sweet and another four different savoury fillings to save the trouble.

After tasting it, I must say it was not exactly new to me. However, I found myself enjoyed the anticipation of different taste of the fillings, from prune to pork. Surprisingly, pierogi wasn’t something cheap in Warsaw. Perhaps the price includes the eye washing service offered by the waitress in the shop with her super sexy and sexually seductive uniform. But, just one question: How is it possible to super mini skirt, and boobs exposing blouse in such a cold weather?

The intensity (and insanity) of coldness really doesn’t depend solely on latitude. The fact that it was insanely cold during my stay in Warsaw really made me realised how much I appreciated the ‘warmness’ in Scandinavia. Arming myself with three layers of clothes, with a black warm jacket in addition, two layers of pants, two layers of socks, it was still insufficient for me to withstand the weather and had to stop walking every two hours. This might explain why visit to restaurants was such a popular activity.

Curiously checking the temperature online, I was surprised that it was only -11C, which was normal in Trondheim. But the additional statement saying ‘feels like -19C’ explained everything. Poland, is officially the coldest country I’ve been to. It was also the first country which I screamed out in agreement with others that winter trip wasn’t enjoyable!

Caption: Chinese from different countries (left) and new year celebration at house of Paulina's friend.

However, stubbornness had concurred sanity. The fact that I was only spending three days in Warsaw really pushed me to keep walking, under the severe attack of freezing wind and merciless snow. Indeed, the fact that Polish government is a lot more generous than Scandinavian government in enhancing the attractiveness of cities with enchanting lighting was also a factor. But certainly not because of the bizarre palm tree in the middle of Al. Jerozolimskie (main street in Warsaw).

Checking on my Warsaw pocket guide, it is undeniable that I have missed out a lot, especially when it was so cheap to travel in the city. Not forgetting to mention is also by paying the price of a single bus journey in Trondheim, I had travelled in Warsaw, by all modes of transport within three days.

However, with only three days on hand, the vivid and distinct impression resulted from the visit was really satisfying. Warsaw, a capital which I have to mention once again, is highly recommended. Anticipation was really surging high. I was waiting excitedly for Krákow, the former capital of Poland.

P.S.: If I really have to make a preference, Krákow would be the biggest highlight in the winter trip. So check back!