Warsaw, Poland~~possibly a destination that might not be on many folks’ bucket list, but it’s certainly on mine/ours. The first time we visited Warsaw was in 1994—Ben and I were backpacking in Eastern Europe, and we fell in love with this country. With a rich history and culture, Poland has experienced its share of being ruled and conquered—in the 1989 revolution, Poland finally become a free country and held its first election in 1990.
At the time of our visit, we were on the threshold of seeing a newly freed country, experiencing a smattering of its evolution into capitalism after the collapse of communism and being able to watch history evolve in front of our own eyes. Now nearly 20 years later, we marked our anniversary with a return trip to Warsaw and Krakow. We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew that we were in for an adventure.
Some things hadn’t changed—and, that mainly was the people. Warm, accommodating and hard-working, we were enchanted by this country’s populace in 1994—those we came in contact with just could not do enough for us—they welcomed Westerners, they wanted to learn, they asked questions, and they were ready to make changes—especially, the young people.
We stayed in the Mariott Hotel in 1994, and we returned to it in 2014—this hotel and so many things about Warsaw and Krakow have changed dramatically in 20 years—the infrastructure—the airport, rail station, taxis, bus system—retail stores, upscale and designer, restaurants, boutiques, American franchises—Subway, KFC, TKMaxx (yes, TK not TJ!). The cities are clean, neat and vibrant. The countryside is scattered with thriving villages, automobiles and new homes. The people are experiencing lives that only were dreamed of a little over 20 years ago! Living in a free country, sometimes we take for granted even little things~~being able to attend an outdoor concert, having a choice of restaurants, having multiple shopping options~~not so here, it is a gift, hard fought and to be cherished and treasured and never taken for granted.
Back in 1994, I had no cell phone, there was no Internet, I had no email or social media with which to share the day-by-day, even minute-by-minute, aspects of my trip—today I do, plus I have a darn fancy Nikon camera that allows me to take stunning photos and videos—come along with me as you, too, can experience a weekend in Warsaw!
Traditional Polish Food & New Culinary Ideas in Fine Dining Restaurants~~These restaurants would rival the best in the world, the service bar none, the prices more than fair, and the tastes~~well, let’s just say palate nirvana!
Entrepreneurs at Outdoor Markets selling their Wares and Goods~~Having the freedom to be in ‘business’ for themselves, in the ‘open’, and working hard to improve their standards and style of living~~this is freedom!
Vibrant People Loving Life~~Young hip guys bow ties and suspenders singing, shoppers enjoying the array of stores, and a wedding procession with the entourage all on bicycles coming joyfully through Old Town
Cafe Blikle~~ This old world venue on the Nowy Swiat has been serving the best sweets in Warsaw since 1869. A cafe in the classic Viennese fashion, its traditional charm and suave elegance with its long tables, tall ceilings and highly-polished surfaces take you back in histor. Blikle’s cakes are famous nationwide in Poland, and their desserts and ice-cream are well worthy dipping into your pocket for – so you’ll definitely want to stay for more than just a cup of tea!
Royal Łazienki Park~~Sunday Chopin Concerts Open-air piano concerts with music by Frederic Chopin take place in Warsaw’s Royal Łazienki Park, at the foot of the monument to the great composer. From the middle of May to the end of September, fans of Frederic Chopin’s music meet every Sunday afternoon at noon and 4p.m. in front of his monument in Łazienki Park to listen to piano concerts. Summer concerts are a constant element of the calendar for the most important cultural events not only in the capital but also throughout Poland.
Copyright alice d’antoni phillips www.allyskitchen.com