I like to think I’m an adventurous traveler, and I mean that in various senses of the word. I love to get dirty in a new place, climbing mountains, jumping off mountains, and everything in between. But I also like to be a bit adventurous in my accommodations, and veer off the hostel/hotel path once in a while to try to meet people and get a better sense of where I am. One of my go-to’s for this is Couchsurfing.com, but the site can offer up a lot more than most people initially think (and from what I initially thought too), so I wanted to give some ins and outs I learned along the way.
Meeting other couchsurfers: A couple times while Couchsurfing, it turned out others were also staying with my host, which made for a fun night and an even bigger network of friends. When I first landed in Stockholm for a 6-week stint in Europe, I used Couchsurfing to stay with a host, and ended up meeting a great group of people (including another Canadian girl who was also staying with my host) to kick things off with. We ended up all staying out til 3am, huddled under a tarp in the rain, and who knows, you may even meet people to go visit on your next trip. I now know exactly where I’ll want to be staying on my next trip to Montreal.
Warsaw: the city that would bring me back to Poland in a heartbeat.
So I sadly can’t say I got to spend too much time in Warsaw, or really have a recommended itinerary after my whirlwind time there (including a missed flight and a night that lasted until 7am -those are whole other stories). But it was just enough to make me want to come back again and again, and discover even more of Poland. Note: I was there in October 2015, just as it started to get colder and the air a bit crisper.
First off: Poland is cheap. Like, really cheap – despite being the 2nd biggest economy in Central Europe and 6th biggest in the EU. It also has amazing food and really friendly people. And, compared to Krakow, Warsaw is like its hipper, younger cousin (my opinion). A lot of people say you prefer one or the other: like a San Francisco/Los Angeles or Berlin/Munich rivalry, and in this case, Warsaw reminds me of Berlin – I loved it. Continue reading “Warsaw: a special gem in Poland”
Sometimes you leave a city and your biggest memories of that place are the food. And the eating. And the drinking. It happens. Krakow was one of those places.
We got into Krakow late at night (sensing a pattern?) after a day full of train rides from Budapest into Brno, Czech Republic, a BlaBla car to Gliwice, Poland, and then trains all the way to Krakow.
Undeterred and obviously determined to soak in all of Poland, we headed right out after checking into the hostel and ended up at another Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa in the Old Town. I’ll say right away these vodka bars were probably one of my favorite parts of the entire trip– and no, not just for the alcohol. From the second you walk in, it’s like walking into a Russian bar and old-style American diner, blended into one. White tile, swivel bar stools, and 2 chalkboards – 1 for food, at 8 zl each (about $2), 1 for drinks (4 zl each). Old Communist posters and advertisements cover the walls, and people – young, old, and everywhere in between – keel over laughing, drunk, red-faced, and enjoying life. It’s a crazy scene. We also went to one in Warsaw that was not part of this chain that was a bit more authentic, but they’re really all great. It’s sadly also somewhere I knew right away I never would have ended up had I been alone or with someone other than a Polish person.
Note: This post was almost entirely written about 2 weeks into my 6 week backpacking trip from Germany all the way down into Montenegro and back up again through Poland. I had no idea where the following 4 weeks would take me, nor did I want to know.
I’ve had a lot of rambling thoughts about traveling so far- about the way I’ve done it so far, the people I’ve met, and how I may have done it differently. Yet when my mom asked me last night if I’d rather have done it with someone else by my side, I knew I could answer assuredly and without pause. No.