There comes a time in your ex-life when you want everything to be enjoyable, exciting and interesting. Warsaw, the main Polish metropolitan, will fulfill all your EXisting desires. Rising from the ashes of World War II, where 85% of the city was destroyed, Warsaw now is a mosaic of parks, museums, majestic monuments, a flourishing nightlife scene and an up-and-coming futuristic skyline, forming a truly cosmopolitan city.
What Warsaw lacks in terms of beauty and luxury, it more than makes up for in cozy hidden havens: cafés, pastry shops, restaurants, bars and clubs which provide a perfect place for those in EXile. Start your day at the Tender Barbarian, a comforting café-bookshop-gallery combo – named after a book by Czech author Bohumil Hrabal –, an unpretentious cultural institution. Sample the creamy coffee collection and peruse an English-language art book nestled in a soft sofa. If you’re still seeking some refuge, head to Moonsfera, a captivating rooftop restaurant overlooking the city. The appealing ambiance and the clever concoctions of fusion food will warm year healing heart.
EXorcise your toxic emotions and unwanted aggression by dancing the night away at neighboring Balsam, Pruderia and New Deep (www.newdeep.pl) clubs. Situated in Fort Mokotów’s genuine military fortifications, the always-heaving bar and club complex serves up an eclectic clientele and music mix. Take it step by step. First absorb the new atmosphere by indulging in some people-watching from a comfortable armchair. Then try a variety of famous Polish vodka’s (Żubrówka, Goldwasser, Sobieski and Gorzka Żołądkowa to name a few) to loosen up a bit. Finally, get in the groove and rock the night away!
After an exhilarating dance-filled evening, EXplore the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, packed with art galleries, antique shops, churches, and culinary establishments. Completely reconstructed after the war, the Old Town boasts the armed mermaid statue in the Market Square – the symbol of Warsaw -, the Royal Palace, Green Gallery on the Crooked Circle Street, poster shop and numerous amber jewelry stores.
Enjoy the many blessings of nature and delight in the grandeur of the Royal Łazienki Park, a 17th-century palace and garden group. Roam around the devious paths, discover the Baroque Belvedere annexes, the Palace on the Water, the Chopin statue and rose garden, and island-amphitheatre.
Bring some snacks, as the park is packed with freewheeling flashy peacocks, speedy squirrels, swans and ducks who always appreciate the free fare and care.
Continuing in an artistic frame of mind, EXpress yourself at the 17-century Ujazdów Castle housing the Centre for Contemporary Art , Kino. Lab Cinema, and the retro-funky Baumgart Café. The Centre’s swiftly-shifting expositions focus on spotlighting the raw, dynamic changes of Polish and international art in all its forms. If you opt for a more down-to-earth and edifying experience, visit the Warsaw Rising Museum, opened in 2005, dedicated to the heroes of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Housed in a former power station, the exhibition presents a meticulous documentation of the 63-day combat, a symbol of Polish strength and spirit.
Once you’re ready to EXhale and recuperate, you have a number of spas and wellness centers to choose from. Clarins Institute (www.clarins.pl, Polna Street 3), Dermika Spa & Salon (www.spasalon.pl, Gen. Józefa Zajączka Street 9a), Celebrity Beauty & Spa (www.celebrity.com.pl, Rondo ONZ 1) and Le Spa all encompass a complete spectrum of cosmetic, therapeutic and medical treatments and services, providing both recreation and vitality. A day of proper pampering and you’ll continue on your EXpedition with new-found energy.
Anna J. Kutor is a roving freelance writer and photographer specializing in cultural, travel and social themes – currently residing in Warsaw. Check out her website at www.orangeimagery.com to view her photos from Warsaw and around the globe.