Warsaw was great – I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s a beautiful city with a relaxed atmosphere and lots of cool places for eating and drinking. What else do you need?
We started our day in Warsaw at the Science and Culture Palace, which hosts lots of museums and other cultural hubs. You can go up this impressive building to get nice views over the city (tickets at 20 zloti per person).
After taking in the view, we started walking towards the Old Town. We stopped for a quick drink at Aioli, a nice place for a cocktail on a sunny day (drinks looked amazing but were a bit watery). We then made our way to Novy Swiat (the Royal Way), a busy thoroughfare full of bars and restaurants.
For lunch we stopped at Vege Bistro, a little vegan cafe that served delicious pirogi (traditional Polish dumplings). A meal for two cost 53 zloti (around £9).
The Royal Way leads to the Old Town, which was completely rebuilt after the second World War – about 85% of Warsaw was destroyed then. This is a beautiful area to wander around for a few hours, stopping to lounge in the sun at one of the many cafes.
We found a great Belgian bar just off the Old Town. The Elephant Pub has a great selection of Belgian beers and is very nicely decorated. Perfect to recharge for a little bit.
Our last stop of the day was Poznanska Street, which is full of cool bars and restaurants. We had pizzas at Vegan Pizza before heading back to the hotel.
What a nice day!
HOW TO DO IT:
- Go: We flew Wizzair, as they tend to have the cheapest options for Eastern Europe. The flight takes around 2h so it’s easy to go after work.
- Money: Poland is really cheap. A beer costs less than £2, and you get a meal for about £5. Things are really good quality, so it’s the perfect place to indulge.
- Stay: We stay at Mercure Grand Warsawa which was by far the best Mercure I’ve ever stayed at. We only paid £35 per night – bargain!
- Food: Polish food is not traditionally veggie, but there are lots of veggie places around. We took recommendations from Happy Cow and were really spoilt for choice.
- Train to Krakow: We took the express train to Krakow, which takes about 2h30. Tickets cots £7, and that even includes a free beverage! (shame on you, National Rail!) The train was great and the trip very enjoyable. You can spend the time gazing at the countryside outside or having a cold beer at the bar.
Berlin was great – as always.
I visited on a sunny weekend in August, a beautiful time to go.
For the first time I managed to visit the Reichstag (it’s free to go but you must book in advance).
The cool cupola by British architect Norman Foster is definitely worth a visit.
And it’s a great place to take weird self-portraits.
The street art around the East Side Gallery was a bit more damaged than I remembered.
But it’s still quite impressive.
And there are lots of other great street art all around the city.
This was also the first time I visited the impressive Berlin Cathedral.
From the top you get great views over the city.
And inside there are many amazing details too.
Sundays in Berlin are always great for brunch.
After eating at the lovely Napol Jonska in Prenzlauer Berg, we walked around Mauer Park.
This is a great area to see remains of the Berlin Wall in a less touristic area.
But we also stopped at some of the highlights – like the Brandenburg Gate and the memorial next to it.
Berlin never disappoints!
Niagara Falls is only 80 miles from Toronto, so we made sure to visit during our Canadian adventure. There are lots of coach trips available, so we got on a bus early in the morning to see what it was all about – alas it was less yellow ponchos and more tacky casinos.
The falls themselves are really impressive, a massive and powerful waterfall right across the pavement – really unlike anything you’d see. Usually you can take a boat trip to see it even closer (the ‘Maid on the Mist’), but we were unlucky with the weather and that wasn’t available when we were there.
The downside is the massive tacky-fest right across the road: like a cheap, old-fashioned version of Las Vegas, so not really what you’d expect from such a natural wonder. But the coach trip also went up the river where we got great views without the intrusion of modern architecture.
We also visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, a colonial town full of cute little shops which was nice if a bit fake – great gelato though!
We hopped back on the bus for a final stop at a local vineyard before making our way back to Toronto at 5pm. All in all this was a nice little day trip – it not at all what I was expecting!
HOW TO DO IT:
There are lots of day trips from Toronto, and they all looked quite similar (can you imagine all of them stop at a floral clock?). I chose Queen Tours through Tripadvisor, which cost $75 per person. It was easy to book and the guide was good, so it was a good option.
What a weird and wonderful place!