8/19 - Warsaw, Poland
Feeling like we didn’t do enough exploring the day before, we set out for Old Town around noon-time to get some lunch and see the sites. It is the touristy part of Warsaw, but hey, we are tourists and we heard the area was fun. A 20 minute bus ticket only cost us $1, and soon we were in Old Town. Walking into the old market square, we found the area to be buzzing with people. Tourists were mixed with locals and almost everyone was sitting at one of the outdoor restaurant tents drinking either coffee or beer and eating lunch. This looked like our kind of place!
Finding a restaurant that looked good, we grabbed a table and waited for our server to bring us some menus. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining - no wonder this many people were outside enjoying it! Picking from the menu we decided to order the most Polish things we could find, settling on a potato pancake with chicken and tomato sauce, and a braised pork knuckle with sauerkraut and fried potatoes. I also ordered a liter of beer because, well, beer.
When the food was delivered we just stared in amazement at how large, hearty, and delicious looking our plates looked. Digging in our taste buds confirmed what our eyes had seen - it was incredible. For the first time in… maybe years? I couldn’t finish everything that was on both of our plates as they were just too large and filling. Delivering the check, the waiter brought us some of the restaurants house sherry gratis, to be drunk as an aperitif. Unfortunately the flavor was the complete opposite of the food and tasted like cherry cough syrup, making us both gag a little and chug water to remove the vile taste.
Leaving the restaurant and stepping back into the heart of the square, we chose a street and set out to explore the rest of the area. Down the road we found an medieval looking wall with stairs leading up to allow us to climb it. Following it down, it lead to a defense tower which after touring, discovered that it was called the barbican, and was a reconstruction of the original city defenses that existed a couple hundred years ago. However, keeping out enemies with a fortification doesn’t do any good if you just surrender it to them, which is what we learned that the Poles did on the two occasions that the city was ever contested - essentially proving it useless.
Just outside of the barbican we joined up with a Free Walking Tour that had just arrived and followed them for the rest of the tour, learning about the city. Joining the group towards the end of the tour, we only stopped at a couple of places, but it was still very interesting to learn about a particular milk bar that the Dalai Lama had eaten at, the house that Madame Curie was born and raised in, the Jewish ghetto during WWII and the consequent uprising in the ghetto and later city uprising, and lastly about Frederick Chopin the pianist. The guide was fantastic and engrossing and apparently there are several more free tours that the group holds all about the city - something that Lauren and I are going to be keeping our eyes out for during our stay here!
Feeling hungry again after all the walking, we hopped on a bus heading back in the direction of our apartment. A burger joint called Bob’s Burgers was just down the street from us and we found they make a mean burger at a fraction of the cost that you would expect to pay for it. They also allow you to bring your own drinks in which led me to jog down the Fresh Market to pick up a nice red ale to help wash my mushroom burger down with. Another solid day in Poland!