Fun fact: To date, Warsaw is the only city on our 2.5 month backpacking trip through Eastern Europe where we pre-booked our hotel more than two days in advance. (What can we say? We like to keep our itinerary flexible!) We selected the Ibis Hotel due to its affordable price and proximity to Warsaw’s Old Town. While it quickly became clear to us that Ibis is geared more toward those on business trips rather than backpackers (AKA we saw a lot of people in suits and/or on their phones and looking official in the lobby), the accommodation choice actually worked great for us since we take our business on the road with us!
Our first day in Warsaw began with breakfast at To Lubię café, which we stumbled upon thanks to a prominent chalkboard sign advertising our most needed commodity at that point: caffeine! One pot of lavender tea and two platters of warm bread, fresh veggies, meat, cheese, and a local spread of eggs and ham later, we left the café to explore Old Town.
The Royal Castle was amazing, and for whatever reason, admission was free on the day of our tour! While the rooms and regal trappings were impressive, we were most amazed by the fact that the entire castle was completely reconstructed in the 1970s and 1980s following its total destruction during World War II.
For dinner, we turned to Four Square and discovered Z Gara I Pieca, which was possibly the most uniquely-decorated restaurant of all time – it felt like eating inside a coloring book! After a long day of walking around the city, the whole meat-and-potatoes thing had a really nice ring to it. We ordered goulash and some sort of meat pies that were like a fancy Polish version of Hot Pockets (thought of you, Jim Gaffigan), then headed back to our hotel to put in a few hours of work. Day one, complete!
On our second day in Poland we took a morning bus ride to Wilanow Palace and returned to Warsaw to visit the POLIN museum of Jewish history in the afternoon. While both tours were fascinating, we definitely crammed too much into just one day. To fully absorb and appreciate the POLIN museum – which covers thousands of years of Jewish history and continues the narrative through the present day – would take a lifetime. Two hours hardly did it justice. Four would have been better. All day would have been best.