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Warsaw: Beyond the Royal Route

The city of Warsaw extends into two unequal parts on both sides of the Vistula river. Even though most of the tourist attractions are located on the left bank, in the so called Royal Route- the prestigious historic walk in Warsaw Trakt Królewski – and the trendy shops of Nowy Swiat. But beyond the Royal Castle, the Wilanów Palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier we find a modern city, wanting to reinvent itself.

Prague: the bohemian district of Warsaw

On the right bank of the Vistula, right after crossing the historic zoo, it is located the neighborhood of Prague, a place that has successfully reinvented itself like no other in Warsaw and where now come to live young artists that have boosted the area with art galleries and craft shops. Its walls, once gray, are now full of murals and paintings that give a different color to the district.
Prague is now one of the most active cultural centers in town and with the mostt exciting nightlife scene beyond fashions and conventional trends. A place where creativity arises from the most unexpected corner.

Come up to the number 14 in Otwocka street, where is located the artistic, gastronomic and leisure center Centrum Artystyczne Fabryka Trzciny; certainly one of the most vibrant parts of the city.

The pianist in Warsaw

The Polish director Roman Polanski perfectly recreated the city occupied by the Germans in his film The Pianist, which recreates the memories of the pianist Szpilman, played by actor Adrian Brody. It was precisely the Prague neighborhood the chosen one for the filming of some scenes due to the abundance of original buildings of the time, who set the perfect city’s set for that time. Other scenes were shot in and around the city, and in the Military Academy in Warsaw, where  the Umschlagplatz’s scene happens , when the family of Szpilman along with other Jews are tucked to death in a freight train that will take them to the concentration camp.

Close to Centrum  metro station, we can find the area where the Ghetto was located during the German occupation and some few remains of the wall that formed the Warsaw Ghetto’s boundary, in the streets and Zlota Sienna.

On the trail of Chopin

Warsaw is the city of composer Frédéric Chopin, so following  ”the avenue of musical banks” that indicate the main points related to the great musician is  a fun way to discover it ; 15 black  interactive banks that were installed in 2010, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

These banks will guide you through the most emblematic places of his life like his home in Warsaw in the Czapski Palace and the Church of the Holy Cross where you will find his heart  in a box . To facilitate the route there is a QR code that will take you directly to a web audio guide in several languages. In addition, the banks have a button that, when pressed, releases fragments of some of his compositions.

The Cluster Waste

Gnojna Góra (the cluster waste) is the peculiar name of the main viewpoint of the city. Here was indeed, from the Middle Ages until the late eighteenth century, the municipal rubbish dump but as the city began to expand this area was too central to such use. From here, you have the best views over the river, district of Prague or the Cathedral of St. Michael.

Discover its cuisine

Of course! One of the best and most enjoyable ways to know a city is starting from its cuisine. Try the bigosz – Poland’s national dish which is prepared with boiled cabbage and sausages-, the pierogy -the cooked dumplings so common in Polish gastronomy-, the varszcz – a soup made of beet very usual  in almost all Eastern European cuisine – and the various recipes using mushrooms.

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Warsaw – What to See in Holy Week

Holy Week coincides with the onset of spring, a season associated with milder temperatures. Although you should still pack some warm clothes – jerseys, jacket, raincoat, gloves, cap and scarf – it’s unlikely to snow in Warsaw, unless you’re in the higher mountain areas. And, by early April, the days are quite long and sunny. Unlike in other European countries, during Holy Week in Poland both the Thursday and Friday are working days and most of the museums and shops are open to the public. Visiting hours at churches may be different, however, as in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, where the largest Good Friday procession of all Poland is held.

As in other areas where the Catholic festivities are traditionally observed, Palm Sunday is celebrated here in style. Like in Spain, in Poland the faithful carry palms, but here they are far more elaborate. Dried flowers and paper flowers go into their careful making by hand. They are so popular here that many towns and villages organise palm contests. We recommend taking the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Łyse, in the region of Masovia, where you can find palms of up to 6 metres high.

Cultural activity also revolves around Easter. The keynote event is the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival. Held in Warsaw, as well as in Krakow and Gdansk, it attracts classical music virtuosos from all over to perform a number of works based on Holy Week themes. The festival alone makes it well worth visiting the city. Over the festive period churches host classical music concerts. The programme features religious works, pride of place going to the staging of the Lord's Sepulchre. This is undoubtedly a good reason for visiting the holy precincts of Poland’s capital city. Even under the Communist regime the uncensored sepulchres stood for the most important political events of the time.

Another high moment of the holy celebration is the blessing of the food. Starting on Easter Saturday morning, crowds of people congregate at the churches bearing adorned baskets containing, in addition to the classical hand-painted Easter eggs, bread, salt, pepper, sausage and an endless assortment of Easter pastries to have them blessed. Once the ritual has been completed, they may then eat meat. In bygone days the baskets’ contents were indicative of the purchasing power of the various families – the greater the amount and variety of food, the high their economic status.

Easter eggs are decorated in different ways and this is often the favourite activity of the younger members of the household. Once boiled, the easiest thing is to colour them with polychromed powders dissolved in water. These colours are sold in small sachets at this time of year. A more natural technique is to boil the eggs in a pot with onion skins, giving the eggshells a dark tinge and, the more onion skin you use, the darker the colour. After the eggshell has dried out, it can be drawn on or incised using a sharp needle.

Easter Monday is noticeably more playful in character and closely linked to rural traditions. In Polish it is known as Lany poniedzialek – “Water Monday” – as Slavic tradition has it that throwing water over the girls is believed to ensure their health and fertility. So, make sure you keep your eyes skinned because even today you can have a bucket of cold water thrown over you.

Cuisine is important in Poland at Easter and tables are decked out with Easter eggs, symbols of a new life. Confectionery also plays a major role, particularly mazurek, a cake based on butter and very thick cream, eggs, sugar and flour. It is also stuffed with nuts, chocolate and fruit (orange or lemon). Another cake typically made during this festive season is kaimak. Although similar to mazurek, the dough contains liquid toffee.

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Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Polish National Tourist Office

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The most veg-friendly cities

More and more people are becoming vegans nowadays, so more restaurants are starting to offer menus that are partially or completely free from animal products. Want to find out which are the most veg-friendly cities? Take a look!

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Milk bars and more

Going out and enjoy in Warsaw can be a delicious experience afordable for everyone. Without frills, three meals can go for about fifteen euros. There are eateries and bars known dairies or milk (mlezny bar) where you can eat as well for about 3 euros.

Ask for a beer or a soft drink without fear. You can sit on the terrace of the main tourist areas (weather permitting), because the beer will cost about a euro ... and they serve big tankards.

Poles are very fond of soups and stews. Some of the most tasty that we tried and that you should not lost are bigos, a stew of cabbage and meat very well, with a similar flavor to sauerkraut; borsch soup broth made ​​with beets and sometimes served with a giant kibble; the zurek rye flour soup, mushrooms, sausage and boiled egg, highly recommended for the winter but summer care because ordered to warm one day and we still raining during the heats ... It is very blunt. Another typical and delicious dishes on the golonka, roast amazing knuckle; and the famous pierogi, a kind of ravioli or dumplings stuffed with meat, chicken, cheese ...

And speaking of pierogi, we recommend Pierogarnia na Bednarskiej (Ul Bednarska 28/30,. Tel (22) 424 13 87), where you can enjoy the famous Polish ravioli well made and at a reasonable price.

The mleczny milk bar or bars

The milk bars are the former communist restaurants that still exist in the form of soup kitchens. You will feel like in high school, with a home-cooked meal, yet cool day, and a variety of traditional Polish dishes.

Some where we sat were Krakowskie Przedmieście 20/22, or the "Bambino" in Krucza 21.

Recordando la etapa comunista

Oberza pod Czerwonym Wieprzem
Żelazna 68

It is a place that has been preserved as it was the Soviet taverns. Unfortunately it has not been preserved almost none and this is one of the best, very good traditional Polish cuisine. The price is average. It is worthwhile to see how they were. Zurek very good soup, duck and golonka (knuckle).

ul. Zamoyskiego 28/30

This bar any time is good for a drink or a traditional Polish eat a snack. Anytime literally, because the kitchen is open 24 hours a day. Inside, it is decorated with lots of communists details. The walls are lined with newspapers decades ago, the music played has more than 50 years ... Everywhere you look there detales who remember the past.

Cozy Warsaw

Burakowska 5/7

Located in an old factory next to a church that gives a special charm, is one of the most pleasant places to take some wine and dine pecking sites. The concept is different because,besides tasting, wines can be purchased. For a romantic night, or with friends, we recommend it. Not expensive, you can have dinner with a good wine for 20 euros. It has a beautiful terrace that is appreciated in the summer.

Restaurante Polka
Świętojańska 2

Beside the square is Zamkowy this restaurant whose interior looks like something out of a friendly dollhouse. Although the decor is not exactly expensive to sample Polish gastronomy.
A dinner for three people, with 2 starters, 3 main courses, dessert and wine came out € 35-40 each.

W oparach absurdu
Ząbkowska 6

The cafe "W oparach absurdu" (in the mist of absurdity), is located in the district of Prague. As for the name, and we can get the idea that this is a somewhat alternative cafe, but very charming!

It is also the favorite cafe of one of our best Polish friends. This cafe is in the "good" area of this neighborhood, so you can go both day and night, and also drinking a lot of beers (my friend ordered a chocolate beer), you can have lunch or dinner typical Polish dishes (eg pierogi) about 4 € the plate.

You have 2 floors and the furniture is old style, with sofas, armchairs and wooden chairs, sewing machines with tables, images of pristine, antique mirrors ... Lovely!

With these recommendations and we just have to tell you something ... Bon appetit!

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