We began our only full day in Warsaw the right way: with a couple dozen pierogi, borscht and hot rum cyder. Our meal at Zapiecek rivaled some family Christmas dinners of my childhood. The favorites of the meal were the Ruskie and the wild mushroom pierogi. Filled to the brim, we began our Maps-plotted route to walk around the highlights of Warsaw south of Old Town, as we’ll be staying in Old Town our final night in Poland.
Stopping from point-to-point along Nowy Swiat, the apparent main walking-route in Warsaw, we found our way up to the Presidential Palace and over toward the river, eventually making it to the Copernicus Museum (it was sold out for the day. We visited Poland during the children’s intersession). One interesting sight, only a short detour from the main road, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We were able to witness the changing of the guards, five men marching in perfect unison.
From the river we ventured inward again, through the park and under the busy street to the National Museum. Lingering for hours, we saw everything the Museum had to offer, which was a whole hell of a lot! From 3rd century African coins, to a huge collection of European paintings spanning centuries and styles, to an expansive and bizarre surrealist and modern art collection (some of which was audio-visual, in Polish, making it even more bizarre), and still there was so much more. For the 30zl it cost the two of us to get in, it was well worth it! Be aware ahead of time, you will need to check your coat and backpack unless you wish to hold it (the difference between carrying by hand and carrying on one’s back escapes me). This left me a bit cold and carrying around a full backpack of cameras, phones, important travel documents and wallets.
After the museum, we hopped back on Nowy Swiat, this time from the other direction. Our hotel, being so kind as to hold our bags for the day, had an 8pm pickup deadline, so we ran in and the uber-kind receptionist carried them down the two flights of stairs for us. He also offered to get us a taxi, but we’d only a few minutes walk to our restaurant for the evening: Specjaly Regionalne! For the 3 hours we had to wait before our midnight train to Zakopane, we enjoyed many (too many) of the dishes! First, unbeknownst to us, it was “Fat Thursday,” a day to eat donuts, so our server brought us their variation on the holiday treat: savory donuts in tomato sauce. I don’t typically eat meat, but when in Warsaw, and given free holiday treats, I’ll eat just about anything in front of me! It was tasty. My mom loved it more than I, being a typical meat eater. We followed up our donuts with a beet-goat cheese appetizer and another plate of pierogi. Both were awesome, though goat cheese in Poland is much more curd than cream, relative to American goat cheese. Finally, I ordered a “side” of potato gnocchi and pickled mushrooms, for curiosity’s sake. I was told that normally pickled mushrooms are eaten as a bar snack, paired with shots of vodka; they were pickled in a brine I’d typically associate with cucumber-pickles, so gave them an interesting flavor. They were good, in my opinion, though not in my mother’s. The plate of gnocchi were fan-freaking-tastic. I mean really, truly delicious! Just a bit of butter, salt and pepper, oh my lord, so good. So. Good.
Anyway, as if we hadn’t already eaten enough, we ordered a slice of cheesecake that was as fluffy as a cheesecake can be, with a delicious nut crust and topped with sliced blueberries.
Also, somewhere along the way I got a cherry beer. All beer in Poland seems to be oversized and very cheap. The beer was just borderline sweet enough for me to enjoy it, which means that it was very sweet by normal standards.
We departed the restaurant half an hour before our train departed, and took the short cab ride to Warsaw Central. The schedule boards made locating our platform simple, though once our train arrived, we struggled a bit to find our car and quarters, since the language barrier had grown immensely.