Poland

Road Warrior, travel tips and tales from digital visionary Esther Dyson.


Salon Staff
November 12, 1997 1:00AM (UTC)

Last week's query:

Any tips on Warsaw, Kattawice or Krakow, Poland? I'm going on business in November and haven't a clue where to go or what to do for fun. Or, more importantly, where and what the great buys are. Any ideas?


-- MARJORIE BUCKHOLTZ

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Our road warriors' responses:
Be sure to go to the Jama Michalika -- it's a one-of-a-kind coffeehouse
decorated in secession style. U Muniak is a good jazz club. The entire
area around the main square is safe, attractive and filled with
interesting things to see. For art aficionadoes, the Wyspianski Museum (my favorite) and the
Czartoryski Palace Museum are well worth seeing. Wierzynek is a good
restaurant (said to be the oldest in Europe). And anyone who has half a
day to spend outside the city should take the train to the Wieliczka
salt mine and take the three-hour tour.

-- Barrie Trinkle

I work in Eastern Europe year-round, and spend a great deal of time in
Krakow, Katowice and Warsaw, so I think I can help. Krakow is the best of
the three places to visit in all respects: beauty, history, sites and shopping,
but all three are worthwhile.

The best buys are amber and silver jewelry and crystal. Very cheap and very
good quality. You can find leather deals as well (bags, shoes, etc.), but
these are not as easy to come by as before. Toys for children are also
inexpensive and well made. Visit the old town square in Krakow, where you will
find the Rynek Glowny market. The shops surrounding the square are very good
too (crystal). Visit the Royal Castle and make a side trip to Auschwitz.
For a good meal, dine at Cyrano De Bergerac (phone: 11-72-88) just off the
main square. Good hotels are the Elector, the Frankouskie and the Forum (ask
for a room overlooking the river and the Royal Castle).

By train (50 minutes and at a cost of only $7) you can get to Katowice, which has
improved drastically over the past two years and is no longer a run-down,
coal mining, gray city. Due to the emergence of Krakow as a major tourist
and business destination, Katowice has made the effort to spruce itself up.
Not much crystal shopping to be found here, and the best amber and silver is
in the hotel shops. Stay and shop at the Hotel Warsazwa. There are some
good shoe shops and general clothing shops where leather accessories are
cheap and good, but that's about it. Wrangler and Lee jeans are cheap for
European prices but probably not as cheap as in the U.S. Places to eat: A
Dong Chinese (one of the best Chinese meals I've ever had), the Joker Piano Bar (NYC wine
bar style with good food) and CELT, good Polish food, mainly fish and meat.

Warsaw: a capital city that isn't very unique but with lots to do and see as
it is transforming every day in front of your eyes from a run-down,
overly bombed city to a modern-day European capital city.

Sorry if this is too much information but these places are like a second home
to me. Hope the above is helpful. Oh -- and pack warm clothing, I just returned
from there and it is freezing!

-- Stephanie Sloser-Eldred

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I live in Warsaw and work as an air-personality on Channel 3 of Radio
Poland. Don't know much what kind of fun you can find in Katowice or Krakow,
but during my show tonight I will ask my listeners and they might have
something to say. I will forward this to you.

As for Warsaw itself -- depends on what you are in to, really. Visiting the
Royal Castle might be fun, if you are into sightseeing. If you are not, you
can try one of many nightclubs or restaurants with diverse food -- from
typically Polish to Chinese, Mexican or Turkish and Greek. Shopping might be
fun, too, because we are not short of shops. Depends on whether you are
looking for something specific or just want to find a bargain.

Official information on the sights, places to stay and eat you can find in City
Guides available in bookshops, hotels, airports and other tourist places.

More details from my listeners follow:

WARSAW:

When visiting Warsaw, the listeners of Channel 3 of Radio Poland suggested
you should go to:

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1. CHMIELNA Street. It is in the very city, between the Centrum Department
Stores and Nowy Swiat Street. Chmielna Street is a famous commercial street with
many galleries with silver goods and other stuff. On the corner of Chmielna
Street and Nowy Swiat Street check Arka Gallery with weird sculptures made of
nails or paper.

2. THE PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE -- the tallest building in Warsaw, in
the very center of Warsaw. Go to the 30th floor for a panoramic view of the
city. There is a cafe up there, too.

3. THE CENTRAL POST OFFICE at Swietokrzyska Street, next to Warsaw Hotel, in the
city. This is just a real post office but everybody's always surprised to
see the particular number system applied there for the customers. Plus, the
interior design was based on the colors of the rainbow.

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4. HARENDA HOTEL. Located above Harenda Club, at Karasia Street, near
Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street, next to Polski Theater, close to N. Copernicus
Monument. Recommended for its Apartament Suite with old stylish furniture
and Jacuzzi. Costs 260 zlotys per day ($75).
Downstairs there is a pub, in the basement -- jazz club Harenda.

5. GEANT SUPERMARKET -- a supermarket resembling Shop Right or Winn Dixie.

6. ELEFANT PUB at Bankowy Square, a little north of the city, close to Capitol
movie theater. Recommended for the dish of fried camembert cheese.

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7. CASA VALDEMAR at Mokotowska Street, close to Piekna Street, slightly south of
the city. It is a restaurant specializing in old Polish peasants' food. Very
good service, great food, but a bit expensive.

8. SANTORINI -- Greek tavern at Egipska Street on the right side of Vistula
River. Very good and very popular; you have to make a reservation to get a
table. Phone 672-05-25 (if calling from outside Warsaw, add 0-22 before the
number).

9. EL POPO -- Mexican food at Senatorska Street, a little north of the city.
Great food, clever design.

10. METRO MILANO -- Italian food at Marszalkowska Street (in the very beginning
of the street), south of the city. Run by Italians. Interior design in the
'50s style.

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11. OUT OF AFRICA -- shop and cafe at Freta Street, in the Old Town, close to
the Barbican. Unusual shop with hundreds of coffee brands where you can make
your own mix, grind it and take it with you or drink on the spot. The
cafe's menu offers dozens of different coffees.

12. TEA SHOP at Nowy Swiat Street, close to Dobra Street, in the city. Dozens of
tea brands to take away or drink on the spot. The shop also offers various
accesories for tea making and drinking, including the original sugar cane.

13. ARTISTIC KITCHEN inside Ujazdowski Castle, close to Na Rozdrozu Square,
south of the city. Restaurant with such dishes as "Green frying-pan baked
as a whole" or "Ice-cream with moustache" (made of cucumbers!).

14. CAFE NA ROZDROZU at Na Rozdrozu Square, south of the city, recommended
for the best apple pie in town.

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15. CAFE BLIKLE at Nowy Swiat Street, close to Chmielna Street, in the city. Easy
to notice, with a big sign-board. Come for the best doughnuts in the
world!

16. OLD TOWN -- very close to the city. With old tenement-houses, stylish
restaurants, shops and galleries. You can hire a horse-cab for a ride.

KRAKOW:

When visiting Krakow, the listeners of Channel 3 of Radio Poland recommend
the following places:

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1. CHLOPSKIE JADLO ("Peasants' Food") -- a restaurant with traditional old
Polish food such as pierogi, czernina (soup made of duck's blood), meat with
fresh cranberry, real Polish bread (of the kind you have probably never
tasted, freshly baked, fragrant and with firm texture). Located 11 miles south
of Krakow, on the road to Zakopane, a little beyond the village of
Glogoczow. Phone: 21-85-20 (when calling from outside Krakow, add 0-12
before that number), 0-90-315-813 (cellular).

2. NOWINA -- luxurious restaurant in Glogoczow, several miles south of Krakow,
on the road to Zakopane. Look for a sign leading to the restaurant as it is
located a little off the road.

3. LOCH CAMELOT -- artistic club, cabaret, with shows during the weekends.
Located at SW Jana Street, next to St. John Church, right of Market Square, in
the city.

4. BIALY KOSCIOL -- a village a few miles from Krakow, on the way to Ojcow.
Recommended for its hotel and restaurant with traditional Polish food.

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5. DI PIETRO -- Italian restaurant with sensational lasagna. Located close
to Wierzynek restaurant, on the corner of Market-Square and Grodzka Street,
in the city.

6. MARKET-SQUARE -- square in the Old Town with clubs, restaurants and shops.
Located in the Center.

7. JANA MICHALIKOWA -- famous cafe at Florianska Street, close to the
Barbican, next to McDonald's, in the Old Town, in the City. My listener
said: "Absolutely necessarily you have to taste Torcik Michalika --
sponge-cake with apples. Wash it down with espresso coffee."

8. PASIEKA -- mead restaurant, at Maly Rynek, close to the Market-Square,
in the city. Recommended for its wide selection of mead brands, served also
warm and with spices.

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9. WIELICZKA -- in a town nine miles away from Krakow. The most famous salt mine in
Europe. To visit the mine, you need at least one full day.

10. MASKA -- stylish cafe at Szczepanski Square, under Stary Theater, in the
city. Very popular among actors and artists, with the interior design
reminding of stage scenography. Recommended for good food, especially fried
camembert cheese and cheesecake with red currant jelly.

11. WAWEL CASTLE -- old royal castle, famous all over Europe. In the
old town, in the city.

12. WAWEL BELFRY -- at the Wawel cathedral. Up on the belfry there is the
biggest bell in Poland, called Sigismund's Bell. You should climb up the
belfry, come to the bell, touch its clapper with your left hand and make a
wish. The bell has the power to make it come true (as they say).

13. ARIEL -- a restaurant/cafe with traditional Jewish food. Located at
Szeroka Street, 200 meters from Wawel Castle. In the evenings the food is supplied
with artistic performances.

14. THE MAGIC CAB DRIVER. In the Market-Square in the Old Town you can hire
a horse-cab that will show you around. However, among all the cab drivers
there is one of whom they say "the magic driver in the magic cab with the
magic horse ..." He is said to drive lonely in the streets of Krakow at
night. You might catch a glimpse of him sometimes when the moon is bright
enough ...

KATOWICE:

For those who plan to visit Katowice, the listeners of Channel 3 of Radio
Poland recommend the following places:

1. CASTLE IN PSZCZYNA. Pszczyna is a small town about 18 miles away from
Katowice with the reconstructed Castle of Pszczyna Princes, which now has a
museum in a big park.

2. HUNTING CASTLE OF PSZCZYNA PRINCES -- very recommended. It is located not
far from Pszczyna, near the village of Promnice, in the forests but with
distinctive road signs leading to it. It used to be used by the local
princes as a shelter during hunting expeditions. Now it has a hotel and
restaurant, beautifully designed in wood. On the outside of the castle there
is a big fireplace used for cooking game. Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras, among others, stayed in this hotel.

3. MARCHOLT -- at Warszawska Street. A restaurant with good food.

4. OPERA, PHILHARMONIA HOUSE & DIVERSION THEATER in Chorzow, 4 miles away from
Katowice. They stage many plays, performances and musicals, such as, recently,
"Evita."

5. ITALIAN DIVERTIMENTO -- club/restaurant in the center of Myslowice, not
far from Katowice, on the way to Krakow. Easy to find, it is located in the
very center at the main street. The club offers elegant food and artistic
performances.

-- Beata Pawlikowska


Salon Staff

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