Late last year, I heard about these ‘surprise holidays’ you could book on Wowcher. They were doing the rounds on Facebook and I was suckered in because, despite working in marketing, I fall for marketing ploys all the time! However, as a UK plus size blogger, I wanted to give them a try! Ran by Weekender Breaks, this ‘surprise holiday’ scheme was basically where you pay £100 (each) for a voucher and the travel agent would pick the destination for you – as well as booking all of the flights and hotels like a normal travel agent.
As I mentioned above, I am always falling for marketing ploys but I am also always up for travelling and trying out new experiences. They draw you in with the promise of Las Vegas or Thailand but you are most likely to get somewhere in Europe. And that’s not to say that travelling in Europe isn’t fun?! A few people I work with had also bought a voucher and got really cool places like Prague and Venice so I was hopeful. I gave them a ring and asked about our destination. They said about Warsaw and I was like: “Sure!” It’s not somewhere I would consider going to but that’s what made it all so interesting.
The process of getting it all confirmed was pretty simple. Once I had agreed to Warsaw, they booked flights from my nearest airport and on the best dates for me. I ended up paying an extra £35 (each) for better flights so, at this point, it had cost my boyfriend and me £270 – which isn’t bad for a weekend away. While the price seemed good, there were some definite drawbacks to this whole ‘surprise holiday’ thing. However, we wouldn’t know about these until we started planning our trip/when we were in Warsaw.
DAY ONE – Friday
We arrived at Stansted airport for our 8:55am flight at like 6am. And no sooner had we guzzled down our breakfast in the Wetherspoons, we were up and rushing to the gate for our flight! Being a RyanAir flight and not wanting to pay the ridiculous charges, we ended up being separated for flight. Thankfully, RyanAir had actually randomly allocated us the extra legroom seats – which wasn’t exactly bad. However, RyanAir seats are not made for thick babes – or at least the first plane we were on! On the flight to Warsaw, I had been allocated a middle seat, which had two fixed armrests beside it. I attempted to sit down in the seat but it felt like when you try and push silly putty back into the container it came in. There was no way I was getting my arse in there! I sneakily picked up my stuff and moved to the window seat. Thus, I spent five minutes praying that no one was seating there and would ask me to move. THANK GOD NO ONE DID! In the window seat, my fat thighs could spread out and I was able to sit semi-comfortably throughout the flight.
We arrived in Warsaw Modlin airport on time and got through the actual airport pretty quickly. Thankfully, it’s quite small so there’s not much space to get lost in! However, this was when the first drawback appeared. There are two airports in Warsaw: the Modlin and Chopin. And we had arrived at the furthest of the two! The airport was an hour away from our hotel (which is another thing I’ll get into) and so we prepared for a long trip into the city. There were two recommended taxi firms at the airport but I couldn’t see any outside the terminal. Instead, you had to ring them. Being both socially anxious and not a speaker of Polish, we opted for an Uber instead. This also sent anxiety through my body. Getting into a strange car with a person who potentially doesn’t speak any English. But what other choice did we have? The bus/train route would have taken us nearly two hours! Thankfully, our Uber driver, Daniel, was lovely. He immediately recognised we were tourists and spoke to us in very good English. And I know, it’s awful to not attempt to make conversation with people in their native language – but have you seen the Polish language? (I’m joking, I’m sure it’s very easy to learn – please don’t shoot me, Polish speakers!) Anyway, Daniel shared with us his thoughts on Disney’s Coco and told us about the best things in Warsaw – which was really handed. He also asked why we were staying in the hotel we had been given. Uh oh!
Basically, we were staying in the neighbourhood of Dęblińska in Praga Południe. This was actually 30 minutes away from Warsaw, which I found extremely annoying. Admittedly, an Uber in the city centre cost only about £4 but still. We didn’t feel particularly safe there – especially at night time. Regardless, we made our way to the hotel called Media Park Apartamenty. I say hotel but as the name suggests, we actually had an apartment to ourselves. It was pretty nice; basic but clean and functional – what more could you want from a place to rest your head. The decor was dated and the view wasn’t anything to write home about so I didn’t get any photos of the room. However, we weren’t disappointed with the hotel – just the area. But then what can you expect when you pay so little in the first place?!
By the time we left the apartment, it was about 3:30pm. We decided to head into the city and get some lunch (more like dinner) as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. My boyfriend, Connor, found a restaurant called Enoteka in the New Town Market. Given that it was now 4pm, we were the only ones in the restaurant but they allowed our starving selves in.
We decided to go for pierogi to start – as this is what Daniel, our helpful Uber driver, recommended to us. I had dumplings with white fish in a saffron broth and Connor had veal dumplings in a mushroom sauce. I have to say I much preferred the veal ones but overall, I enjoyed the pierogi and went on to have it much more over the weekend. Then for mains, I had slow-braised pork cheeks with mashed potato and cabbage while Connor had a saddle of lamb with potato and honey cabbage. I really enjoyed this part of the meal but I was so full from the pierogi, I struggled to make it through the main. Overall, it was a really good meal and it came to about £60 for us both – which isn’t bad considering we had two courses and a bottle of wine.
After dinner, we explored the New Town a little by foot. We came across the Warsaw Uprising Monument in Krasinski Square by chance. It wasn’t long before we got tired from our day of travelling so we headed back to the apartment for the night.
DAY TWO – Saturday
We woke up and headed out of the apartment at about 10:30am so we could explore the Old Town. I had high hopes for the Old Town – given its Instagram reputation! It’s the place where travel influencers go to stand in front of the brightly coloured houses and admire the view. And I am guilty of doing the same thing!
After a walk up and down the Old Town, we ventured into the Royal Castle to learn about its history. I was pretty amazed to find out the castle had been basically destroyed during World War II and so they rebuilt it to its original aesthetic. We spent about two hours gawking at all of the grand interiors and it was definitely interesting to learn about the Polish monarchy. I didn’t do much research going to Poland and so I knew little about the country. The museum ticket cost us about 30 złotys each so it was basically about £4 a ticket!
Once we were done in the museum, Connor and I headed to get some lunch at a Polish restaurant nearby called Gościniec. Being so near the Old Town, it did feel like a proper tourist trap – with its Polish memorabilia across the walls and the waitresses’ folk art skirts. However, the food was great so I had no complaints. Of course, we ended up having pierogi – a mixture of meat and spinach and potato dumplings. Then I had a Hunter’s Stew, which consisted of sausage, sauerkraut and plums. Connor had two sausages on a bed of cabbage, which tasted more appetising than it looked. I have to say these pierogis were my favourite as they were fried rather than boiled. With all the food and two pints, we paid about £16 for this lunch.
After lunch, we went to the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. I would totally recommend this to anyone visiting Warsaw. Not only is the museum really interesting and shares such an important part of the city’s history but the museum is really well put together and interactive. Again, it cost us about 30 złotys each – which worked out to be around £4 a ticket. We spent about two hours in the museum but we could have definitely been in there longer. My feet were hurting at this point and I needed a chance to sit down.
So we took an Uber to a bar that no longer existed – thanks to Google Maps. And then, we actually found a bar that existed to go for drinks in. It was a really small cocktail bar in the Old Town called Klar – which did some really fun, unique cocktails. I have a Polish Pina Colada and I still have no idea what was in it but it tasted good! Alongside the cocktails, I really enjoyed the ambience (love this word) of the bar! Despite my hatred for stalls (as I can never get up onto them gracefully), it had a proper rustic feel to it with metal-framed tables and wood toppers as well as string lights adorning the walls. I loved it so much, I’m pretty sure it was where we spent most of our money that day but it’s worth it for great cocktails.
Finally, we ended the day with some sushi – not very Polish, I know! The restaurant was called Sakuna Sushi and it was very close to the Old Town. I’ve ever really only had sushi like once in my life so I left up to Connor to decide what we had. And he made a good choice! We had a platter of sushi including dragon rolls and sashimi as well as a bowl of chilli squid (which was my choice). If you’re ever looking for food that isn’t pierogi in Warsaw then I would suggest going for sushi at Sukuna – especially if you’re in the Old Town. After finishing the sushi, we wandered around the Old Town for a little longer but soon got tired and headed back to the apartment.
DAY THREE – Sunday
On our final day in Warsaw, we gave ourselves a bit of a lie-in, knowing we had a travel day ahead of us. We checked out of the hotel and leisurely made our way to the Palace of Culture and Science. It has a viewing platform on the 30th floor so I was excited to see the city from above after we had explored it from the ground the last two days. It actually reminded me a lot of the Empire State Building just without too much of a view. Although it was a very foggy day when we visited so I will give it its due! Unlike the Empire State Building, it wasn’t very busy at the top so we were freely able to look out over the skyline. I was at least grateful for that!
After the Palace of Culture and Science, we attempted to find a remaining part of the Warsaw ghetto wall but the map kept sending us around in circles. Then we went to a dim sum restaurant which was actually closed that day – although there were people inside so maybe they just hated the look of us! Seriously, we have no luck…
It was close to 12pm at this point so we needed to go grab lunch before leaving for the airport. After a bit of searching, we found a restaurant near to the palace called Prodiz – which was another Polish restaurant. If you’re all about the interiors, it had a really nice aesthetic. It was cosy with a fireplace and armchairs but the bold colouring was stopped you from falling asleep like my grandad does on Christmas. Again, we had pierogis to start and then I had a duck breast with potatoes. Connor had shin of beef in a horseradish sauce, which tasted amazing. It seemed fitting that we ended our trip to Warsaw with the same meal as our first. However, there were definitely some items on the menu including beef’s heart and calve’s brain that I didn’t expect to see.
After the meal, we headed back to the hotel to collect our suitcase and got an Uber back to the airport. It wouldn’t be an understatement by saying our Uber journey to the airport was one of the worst yet. Firstly, our Uber driver didn’t speak an ounce of English but that wasn’t necessarily a problem – we had encountered this many a time! It did, however, become very odd when he signalled to me “do you smoke?” because I think he wanted to light up a cigarette while he was driving us. However, smoking was the least of our worries. The driver had his chair so far back that Connor’s legs were squished up against the side of the door the whole journey. Plus, the driver was visibly texting his girlfriend the whole way to the airport while going 100mph on a motorway. If there were ever a time I was afraid to die, it would be then. We made it to the airport safely! I’m pretty sure both of us wanted to kiss the ground – we were that thankful to be walking on it. In the driver’s hast to get us here, we ended up being two hours early for our flight so we just chatted, played games and eat snacks until it was time to go home. And here we are! Home safe and sound.
Overall, I enjoyed the weekend away. Warsaw is a charming city which is full of history and definitely somewhere to be visited. It’s not somewhere I will be rushing back to anytime soon as I think I’ve seen what I needed to see. However, I am glad I’ve been and can now tick it off my travel list.
Have you been to Warsaw? I would love to hear what you thought about it! Also, where are you travelling next?