I lucked out.
I really, really lucked out.
I was able to leave 100+ degree temperatures in The Country, with all of its stores closed during the day for the Holy Month, and return to wonderful Warsaw!
We landed around 6:00am again, napped for a few hours upon reaching the hotel, then awoke in time to knock out one of the five things remaining on my Warsaw Bucket List; a Sunday afternoon Chopin piano recital at Lazienki Park!
Before heading to the park, we stopped in nearby Marrakesh Cafe for some sandwiches to go. I had no idea it was a vegetarian/vegan joint. It just happened to have the best takeaway menu of the restaurants closest to the hotel. J and I ordered falafel pita sandwiches, coffee (soy cappuccino for me, Americano for him), and went on our merry way.
We arrived at Lazienki Park’s Chopin monument around 3:30pm; nearly half an hour before the second (and last) concert of the day was to begin. I recommend arriving at least that early, to secure a seat, or bring along a blanket to sit in the grass. We made ourselves comfortable on a nice bench to enjoy our sandwiches and coffee in the magnificent park.
The park began to fill with people, and by the time the concert began, there were five of us crammed onto a bench that was probably only meant to hold three.
Chicka chicka boom boom! We relocated to a set of brick steps before our bench met the same demise as a certain coconut tree.
Pianist Kacper Toloczko played beautifully. I kept thinking, my dad could do this! and teared up a few times, wishing my parents could have been right there right then. Although my parents are musicians, and I took years of piano lessons, I was embarrassed not to have recognized the music from that afternoon’s program. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed every second, and highly recommend the free event to all Warsaw visitors.
At the conclusion of the concert, we left Lazienki Park and walked until we found ourselves at Park Ujazdowski. While being smaller than the previous park, Park Ujazdowski was so picturesque with such lush greenery, I wished we could have stayed for a dinnertime picnic there!
Note to self: Bring picnic blanket to Warsaw.
While reading through a Warsaw visitor’s guide, I came across a 2-page advertisement for Zapiecek. I figure anywhere that can afford two entire pages in a travel magazine must be doing something right. Maybe I’m just a sucker. Anyway, that is where we went for dinner and it was AH-MAZING. Another must if you are in the city.
We feasted on “fried dumplings served in the hot pan”: dumplings with meat (for J), dumplings with spinach leaves and cheese, and dumplings with lentil. J also tried the chicken, which he said was some of the best he has ever had. I was pleasantly surprised with the cup of dried fruit compote, which sounded not-so-nice, but was actually sweet, smooth, and refreshing. For a most sinful dessert, we savored blueberry dumplings, served in a hot cast iron plate, and topped with sweet cream. By the time we were done eating, I was seeing dumplings, breathing dumplings, and was definitely feeling like a dumpling.
The next day, we woke up early – and I mean EARLY (5:00am The Country time; 6:00am Warsaw) to make it to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Orange Balloon Station, the Nespresso Boutique, and to find a Polish cookbook in English. We had to be back at the hotel by 1:00pm, so we really did not have much time.
We walked from the hotel to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, just under a mile away. Unfortunately, we did not realize the museum doesn’t open until 10:00am during the summer.
No big deal. We figured we would just take the train to the Orange Balloon Station, then return to the Uprising Museum afterwards. We boarded the #22 train (#24 will also take you there) and everything was a-okay, until we got off at our stop near the Narodowy Stadium. Of course, since we got such an early start, the giant orange helium balloon wasn’t even up and operating yet, so we couldn’t even see in what direction we were supposed to be walking.
Along the way, I dragged J into a very strange flea market-y place that reminded me of las pulgas in the Rio Grande Valley.
I didn’t find any bootlegged DVD’s or bags of chicharrones de harina, so we continued walking.
Thankfully, neither one of us needed a bathroom break, but just in case we did, there was this:
I’m pretty sure we walked around in a ginormous circle before finding the Stacja Balon, which was GROUNDED FOR WEATHER ANYWAY.
By that point, we had wasted a ton of time, my feet were hurting, and I was ready to cry. We didn’t make it back to the Uprising Museum, but we did make it to the Nespresso Boutique, where we loaded up on our favorite capsules which are SOLD OUT in The Country!
We passed numerous flower stands, which I love.
I have yet to find a Polish cookbook in English, and remain far from a master Polish pastry chef. Hopefully with time, I am able to cross off the remainder of my Warsaw Bucket List!
Warsaw Bucket List (Revised):
* Admire Warsaw from the Orange Balloon Station (Call first to inquire about weather! +48 510 316 660)
* Visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum (Opens at 10:00am Monday, Wednesday & Friday in the summer)
* Find an authentic Polish recipe cookbook (If all else fails, look online)
* Become a master Polish pastry chef (Make everyone a guinea pig!)