Day 17. I didn’t know what to expect of Poland, I just knew I wanted to go. Turns out it’s one of my favourite stops so far. If you like vodka, history, and are a little tight on your budget, go to Poland.
My first impression was terrible, I’ll admit. My bus ride from Amsterdam took forever (19 hours), and precisely one person in the entire bus—which was full—spoke English. That person’s English consisted of exactly six words, which didn’t help me at all when we had to switch buses in the middle of nowhere and I had to make sure my backpack was transferred to the right bus. When I booked that night bus, I figured I’d sleep the whole time, which turned out to be impossible for several reasons:
- The bus transfer at 4 o’clock in the morning.
- The movies they ran non-stop.
- The fact that those movies were in English, with ONE Polish guy speaking over the voices to translate the lines of every character.
- The horrid realization that I didn’t know a single Polish word.
After the bus, I was so exhausted I didn’t want to take the risk to get lost on my way to the hostel. So I withdrew 60 Zlotys at an ATM, having no clue what that was worth, and hopped in a taxi. It cost me 60 Zlotys and dropped me at the wrong place.
I tried to explain to the driver this was not my destination, but the fact that English words flowed out of my mouth pretty much freaked him out and he just went quiet (a reaction I had encountered upon several occasions in the bus).
So I tightened my heavy backpack and walked for ten minutes to that hostel I had spotted on the way. Tip: Always pay attention to your surroundings when in a taxi in a foreign city. There, I asked if they knew the Warsaw Downtown Hostel, where I was to stay.
Together, we google-mapped where I was and where I wanted to go, only to discover it was on that same corner where the taxi had dropped me.
Once back in that street, I looked carefully at all the buildings, and finally noticed that behind a gate, hidden in a courtyard, stood the small, unlit sign of my hostel. So that was a lovely—read useless—little walk!
But in that hostel, all my previous not-so-good impressions of Warsaw magically disintegrated, and I quickly fell in love with the city. Let’s mention that there was a free Wine&Snacks that night, and after the wine the Dutch company offered free Polish vodka shots. (Thanks again, Netherlands!) Free alcohol is the way to make me feel welcome, anywhere.
The vodka in Poland is very good, and cheap. It’s about 30 Zlotys for a 750ml bottle, which equals 10$ CAN. And it has grass in it.
A piece of history can be learned anywhere you walk in the Old Town. Do the Free Walking Tours, you won’t regret it. (My mama always says, don’t say no to anything that’s free. Which is why I accepted the vodka shots, btw.) Warsaw was almost entirely destroyed during WW2, so there are ruins of a castle, and a reconstructed part of the city that stayed true to the way it used be.
Also, a mermaid protects the city.
I love Poland.
Did I mention how cheap everything is? You can go to this great vegan burger place—Krowarzywa—and eat a huge, tasty burger for 12 Zlotys/4$.
Hello : Dzien’ dobry
Thank you: Dzie Kuje
Cheers (Took me about three days and 14 shots to get this one right): Na zdrowie!
Fail count: 4