Stephen Rushmore Jr.
This post is coming in instalments!
When dining in a restaurant in Poland, you will feel less intimidated if you order drinks, i.e. vodka, wine, even beer etc. Teetotalers are smirked at by waiters. Waiters are more of the French variety who will sneer no matter what you order, say or do. (Poles seem to adore the French for god knows why reason – France has always let Poland down.) In my experience, if you are in a high end restaurant, a man should probably do the ordering for the group but this may vary by restaurant. I usually avoid really high end restaurants but check the guidebook mentioned above for names etc.
Food prices were about 1/4 to 1/3 what they are in Canda, so a visit to a major supermarket like Tesco, Leclerc etc can yield excellent meals at good prices. Try the stuff from the hot deli – flaczki, gulasz, golabki, zupy for excellent ready meals at a good price. Also, the baked goods in these places are superior to what you would find in a North American supermarket.
If you have a friend of the family who is a taxi driver, make friends with him. A good cab driver can be your best guide in Warszawa or, as Sundancer said, can make you feel intimidated. Just a note, the Old Town or Stare Miasto was COMPLETELY bombed by German forces during the war. It was purposely rebuilt as it was pre-war. After the war, many students (such as my mother, my aunt, my uncles) helped clear the wreckage to make way for rebuilding. It is a minor miracle to see these buildings, streets, churces restored to their original glory using authentic materians and craftsmanship. Many who are knowledgeable about architecture and urban planning including HRH Prince Charles have praised the rebuilding of the Old Town.
Best beer in Poland – Okocim Mocne (if you like it slightly bitter), Zywiec or Tyskie if you like it smoother.
Best vodka – don’t let them fool you with Chopin. It’s made out of potatoes and my father, grandfather and greatuncle (who made his own triple distilled samogona from potatoes) would turn in their graves. Belveder (of course) or Sobieski (lesser name, same excellent quality) are best. Don’t forget to try Zubrowka – bison grass vodka.
Best bottled water – in my opinion, Kropla Beskidu. Also good are Naleczowianka and Zywiec. Remember, most brands of bottled water come in still AND sparkling varieties.
Don’t forget to try excellent Polish chocolates, available in stands inside/outside of major supermarkets or boxed in the stores themselves. Be sure to try:
Sliwka Naleczowianska – Prunes in chocolate (no, really, they are wonderful)
Wisnia w Czekiladzie – cherries in brandy covered in chocolate
Avokat – chocolate filled with a type of egg not/avokat.
Best places to shop for:
Souvenirs, handcrafted items, some leather goods etc – Cepelia (yes they still do exist and are great). I highly recommend for price/quality.
Toiletries – Rosmann
Supermarkets (called hypermarkets)- Leclerc, Tesco, R�al (my least favourite). These places are better than what we know as supermarkets.
Books, magazines – Empik
Clothes, shoes, almost anything – have your friends/family take you to a rynek (bazaar). Hold onto your wallet VERY carefully as pickpockets abound but you CANNOT go wrong shopping at an outdoor rynek. The Jarmark Saski – in the Stadion Dziesieciolecia (Saski Market in the 10th Anniversary Stadium) is in a former sports stadium – the biggest one of it’s time. It has Russians, Lithuanians etc selliing almost everything. Haggling is expected but not as much as you would in, say, the middle east. Once again, don’t bring all your money and hold onto it tightly. This place is worth a visit for ambience not only bargains.
Other tips: Don’t bring traveler’s cheques – a big hassle. Bring some US currency and a couple of ATM cards (different banks). ATM fees were $5 to $10 Canadian and were worth not having to carry tons of cash.
On public transportation, your ba,20,239052.014,1,34991,220.127.116.11
239065,239052,239052,2006-10-14 12:40:58,RE: Plan ahead”