A new instalment for our Insider series! We travel to Warsaw, but unlike other times, we are not following five different insiders’ tips. We had the privilege of meeting up with Kami, a fellow blogger and Warsaw local, and discovered the city with her.
Discovering Warsaw with a Local
If you’ve been following our Insider series, you’ll know we’ve given up on guidebooks long ago. More often than not, we rock up to a new destination without really knowing what to expect. We love meeting up with local people, through Couchsurfing, social media or mutual friends, and follow their advice.
Normally, we start asking around a few weeks before our trip, make a list of all the tips we get, and then check them out once we get to our destination.
Warsaw was a little bit different. Having lived in London, we have loads of Polish friends, and when we asked for advice, we’ve been literally submerged with tips. We got so many, that to really make them justice, we would have needed to spend at least a month in the city (or have six meals a day!)
Then, another fellow blogger mentioned we should contact Kami, ‘the nicest girl and Warsaw insider’ ever. We did, and the afternoon we spent together was the highlight of our trip to the city.
Are you also heading to Krakow? Get inspired here, with our perfect weekend in Krakow post!
Who is Kami?
She is the blogger behind Kami and the Rest of the World, a blog focusing on journeys to places with a difficult history. Kami hails from a small town near Lublin and works for the Polish railways, creating the schedule for regional trains.
Here are some places she took us to, and some tips she gave us on what to do during the rest of our time in the city.
1) The Vodka Factory
We met in Praga, Warsaw’s bohemian district, across the river from the Old City. Kami is a big fan of street art, and so are we; so, she offered to take us to the Koneser Vodka Factory, a great example of industrial archaeology and street art centre. The neo-gothic factory is now a crumbling shell, but remnants of its red brick buildings can be seen, with some cool street art all around.
2) Stara Praga
Kami also took us to what quickly became our favourite bar in Warsaw. Stara Praga is not easy to find; it’s located in a park at the end of an alleyway, near the railway line. You can sit inside, where pre-war music plays, or outside, next to the owner’s vintage motorbike and some more great pieces of street art.
3) Zapiekanki in Saska Kepa
After walking, chatting and wandering around the streets of Praga, we took some city bikes and rode a short distance to Saska Kepa, the area where Kami lives. I remembered reading somewhere on her blog that Kami didn’t like Warsaw when she first moved there, but changed her mind once she moved to Saska Kepa. Wandering around the area, we understood why. It felt like a village, with parks and friendly-looking cafés; I can imagine living there must be lovely.
For dinner, we had zapiekanki, the Polish version of fast food. The basic version is a halved baguette topped with melted cheese and mushroom cream. I had mine with extra pepperoni and jalapeno, and a squeeze of barbecue and garlic sauce, really tasty.
Budget travellers to Warsaw should join the locals and make a beeline for milk bars, a traditional Polish establishment that was popular in Soviet times and is now undergoing a revival. In a milk bar, you order and pay for your food first; then you go to the counter with a tray and leave your receipt. You get your soup (if you’ve ordered it) straightaway; everything else is made to order and called out when ready, which is kind of tricky if you don’t speak Polish.
Kami recommended we went to Prasowy, a milk bar in downtown Warsaw. We took our guesses ordering from the Polish only menu and ended up with some pirogi, a tomato soup with rice, potato salad with a lone meatball and pancakes filled with cheese curds. All of it for under 10€.
5) Neon Museum
For a lover of quirky museums, this was the best tip ever. The Neon Museum was created to preserve Cold War-era neon signs; following the fall of the Iron Curtain, many of them were lying abandoned in junkyards after being removed. The museum houses a couple of dozen signs, some of them lit, along their history. Some of the signs are huge, taller than a person and fifteen meters across. The museum is run by volunteers; we thought they were doing an amazing job in preserving the historical and artistic heritage of these signs.
Travelling Poland further? Here’s what you do if you have 48 hours in Krakow and 48 hours in Poznan!
8 thoughts on “Warsaw with a Local”
I LOVE THIS POST! Oh my goodness, who knew that Warsaw had what I was looking for in a Capital city. Some of these pictures are exactly the types of things that I long to discover when I visit a new place. I love your insider’s series and I agree with you, asking a local is a million times better than some guidebook! I will be sharing this !
Ooh this post comes in handy! I’m going to Warsaw in a few weeks, and I have done absolutely ZERO research on it. I’ll have to remember Saska Kepa… it sounds exactly like the kind of place I’ll like! I love that last picture of the balcony btw… I find myself a bit obsessed about how cute balconies are in Europe. 🙂
I am NOT a vodka drinker simply because of an experience I had with this in my younger years when I first started drinking! Mixing that with beer drinking was not a good idea at the time and I choose to stay away from vodka now. However, that being said, I definitely think I would be persuaded to explore the vodka factory in Warsaw which looks like a really cool experience! The street art looks really cool also!
Having locals show you around is so great! I love what you found in Warsaw–everything looks like a lot of fun! We went to a neon museum in Las Vegas this past summer–it would be fun to check another one out sometime!
Great post! I follow Kami and it’s great to see that she was so willing to show you around! The best place to see somewhere is with a local 🙂 Warsaw looks great, I need to go back to Poland to visit 🙂
That’s awesome you got to see Warsaw with a local! I love love visiting places with someone who is from there or has lived there for awhile. It gives you such a deeper insight and you learn so much more. Looks like Kami took you guys on a fun day, I’d love to visit Warsaw one day. I have a Polish friend who keeps inviting me to go, maybe one day I finally will.
I really want to visit Warsaw, I’ve been to Krakow and Zakopane in Poland and love the country! Definitely up there on my list 🙂 I have yet to attempt the milk bars in Poland tho’ and would love to, but my Polish is non existent – haha!
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