In order to celebrate the end of our dissertations, two friends and I decided to go on a short trip. A place that we could visit in two days, and more importantly: cheap. Warsaw turned out to be the perfect destination. Having not heard or read much about the city, we went in with a pretty open mind. Long story short: it exceeded our expectations in every sense.
As a capital, it’s pretty quiet. The city has lots of open space and is very clean. These open spaces are mostly unused and are calling for opportunities.
The city has a very eclectic architecture style. In the old town, the buildings have beautiful rustic coloured tints and are dotted with tromp-l’oeils, recalling scenes from a movie set.
With every corner we turned, Warsaw took a different appearance. It felt like a combination of different cities. Some streets felt really westernised, while others managed to maintain their Soviet characteristics.
Since writing my dissertation about Brutalism, having looked at tower blocks and social housing as case studies, I have a certain admiration for this kind of buildings. Unlike most social housing, the buildings found in Warsaw felt not very well integrated in the urban fabric but rather disconnected, as if they were blocks dropped into the city.
A visit to the Neon Museum—likely to be the most random museum I’ve ever seen— left us confused yet intrigued. It was just a room full of Neon texts on the wall, which created nice pictures.
Poland’s signature dish; pierogi, is a sort of dumpling stuffed with meats, cheese or mushrooms and cabbage, then fried or boiled. A nice, yet really understated restaurant to enjoy these is ‘Na Bednarskiej Pierogi’ in the old town.
Another signature dish is the Polish steak tartar. It’s made with pickles, pickled mushrooms, onions and capers. We went to a restaurant called ‘U Kucharzy’, where they play live music and make the steak tartar from scratch at your table. It was one of the best tartars I have ever eaten!
One of the architectural highlights of the trip was the Jewish Museum designed by Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma. The outside was a bit disappointing, but the inside was beautiful. The walls and the ceiling were woven organically into one another, recalling a cave or grotto.
Praga, on the other side of the bridge, felt like entering another city. A lot of the buildings are still derelict, yet there are a lot of new development being built. It’s full of design and architecture firms and looks like it’s an upcoming area of Warsaw. A
really nice restaurant to visit is the Soho Factory. It’s a restaurant in an old factory with an open kitchen concept serving great local dishes with modern twists.
Walking around aimlessly around Warsaw left us confused, excited and glad we took the time to visit this wonderfully eclectic city.