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Peniscola For Year Round Living. Yay Or Nay?

53 thoughts on “Love, Hate And Severe Unease In Warsaw Poland”

  1. I spent four days in Warsaw and I liked it..though I found the currency ‘zloty’ very close to the euro in comparison to Ukraine’s hrivgnia, the people’s stares were not as overwhelming as in Ukraine, and we got alot of friendly young folk helping out..ie one guy with our heavy bags up the train station, and a young couple helped call our hostel as my phone had died out. I wouldn’t want to live where I would battle learning a language as I have in the Netherlands.

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    • Glad you had a great experience in Warsaw. Like l said, everyone will have a different experience and it’s worth visiting if it’s on your bucket list. I’d rather do Krakow again and again :-). The young man who helped when we were lost was very friendly and gave me hope. Perhaps they are still shocked because they haven’t seen as many black people there which is a bit weird considering how close and more cosmopolitan (at least in my opinion) Krakow is. I keep telling Federico l’m too old to learn a new language, especially a hard one. Spanish is already kicking my butt :-).

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  2. Found the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science stunning. I hear that they don’t like it so much in Poland as it’s Stalin’s gift and a reminder of the communist era or so, but it is quite a picturesque building nevertheless.

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    • It is absolutely gorgeous. You’re right, the people still hate it and consider it “ugly”. The local name is “Stalin’s Penis” :-). Old wounds and everything. It’s understandable but they are softening a bit as it has become quite the tourist destination.

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  3. Lovely post, love the details and information you give. I’ve been to Krakow myself and enjoyed it however Poland isn’t really a country that makes it on my list when I think of travel. It may be at the top of my list for places to travel to shop from the euro to zloty is ridiculously good!

    Ama Addo / Albatroz & Co.
    http://www.albatrozandco.com

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    • Thanks Ama. I like the way you thing as far as exchange rate. I’m always looking to get a bang for my buck so to speak. I was fascinated with the history and wanted to experience it. I doubt if l will ever visit the exotic places like Bali or South America :-). They just don’t excite me so l get you. We did however go into that mall to shop and my goodness..the stuff was pricey :-). My husband is a Superdry fan and the prices at their store there converted was higher than in London and India which up till now has been the highest…go figure :-). Thanks for reading.

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  4. I loved your post! So informative and I love all the pictures. I haven’t been to Warsaw but I your tips will definitely help me when I visit one day!

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    • Thanks a lot for reading. I hope you get to visit and decide for yourself how it is. It is certainly a beautiful country. I just prefer Krakow :-).

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  5. Wow. Okay, this was thorough. Did you eat Polish food? Was it just black people they didn’t see many of, because you got lots of ethnic food there. I am now truly interested in Poland. Did I miss the Warsaw posts? Now I gotta go look. You always keep it 100!

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    • We certainly did eat Polish food. We loved it. It’s just that l had it on the Krakow post and didn’t want to repeat myself :-). https://nextbiteoflife.com/2017/06/11/cool-useful-krakow-guide/ . Lots of great ethnic food which is why l asked the question about who is doing the cooking as you certainly didn’t see that many minorities, especially in Warsaw. I think you would like Poland, it is truly beautiful and l want to go back to see some more. Thanks for reading :-).

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  6. Great Post!!! Love the pictures…I’ve never thought about visiting Poland but these are amazing!!

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    • Krakow definitely has a warm place in my heart too. We both really enjoyed the visit there and were made to feel welcome. The interaction with the locals was great and l feel it is a much more cosmopolitan place than Warsaw from what l could see. I don’t think you would find much difference than when you visited. I look forward to visiting it again. Warsaw seemed to have more tourists from within the country or neighboring countries as opposed to foreigners. I will read the article, thanks for linking

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  7. Judging from the pictures, I’ll have to take Federico’s side this time and say that it looks absolutely amazing. Poland is a huge surprise for me – and thank you for opening my eyes on this matter. Didn’t know it’s so highly rated either, but I can understand why 🙂

    It’s saddening, though, to read about the coldness of the people there. I find it so strange to read about that in the year 2017… However, it is people like you that actually make the change and help others become more open minded. Staying away just because they make you feel strange wouldn’t help. But being there, interacting with people, making them them realize how great of a person you are – that can surely change them! And I am happy to see that you keep doing that. Because of you and people like you, the world is a better place.

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    • Haha.. Team Warsaw against my Team Krakow! You both love shiny new pennies. It is just too “polished” for me ;-). I am certain, not pretty sure that you would like Poland. Knowing how much you ended up liking Budapest, l think this will be a close second. I found it strange that the reception could be so different from Krakow being only less than 3 hours by train. That being said, when we lived in Houston, it wasn’t unusual to find people who had never left their suburb neighborhood to visit the downtown area of Houston! We’re talking less than 20 miles here and their attitude towards strangers sucked even worse, so nothing surprises me much anymore. You’re right though, this would not stop me from visiting places l’ve dreamt about and hopefully, slowly things will change. Will send you an email on an unrelated question :-).

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  8. The “vibe” is everything Kemi and, if you don’t feel comfortable or at ease, it can definitely overshadow a visit! I remember traveling in many off-the-beaten-path villages in Guatemala and feeling out of place because we were the only gringos. The experience resulted in a huge “Aha” moment that still resonates with me. Interestingly, I’d never thought of Warsaw as one of the world’s most livable cities (what about WINTER?) but saw it mentioned in another quality of living survey recently. It certainly looks clean and beautiful in your photos and, history geek that I am, I’d love to dig more into it’s past and visit the Warsaw Ghetto. One of my favorite books from years ago was “Mila 18” by Leon Uris about the ghetto uprising. Who knows, you might like it as much as “Pillars of the Earth!” Anita

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    • Oh Thanks for the heads up, I’ll have to check the book. I’ve heard of him. If l like it half as much as Pillars, I’m good. Yeah.. I never mentioned anything to Federico the whole weekend. When he exploded because he couldn’t take it anymore, it was really saying something. After all, when we go to Nigeria, it’s not unusual that he is the only white guy anywhere we go, especially when we are in Ibadan which is where we both prefer as opposed to the cosmopolitan Lagos so he gets those stares too, but out of curiosity mostly. All in all, he could live there, but six months out of the year..haha! I could live in Krakow 6 months a year. The winters are brutal, no thanks :-). Interestingly, we found Krakow cheaper than Warsaw when l would have thought the opposite. Perhaps because Krakow skews towards younger and Warsaw more towards big brand companies and executives. I think you may find a plaque here and there with remnants of the ghetto but all we saw were a couple of buildings from the past, but every balcony with a satellite dish somehow destroying the aesthetic. Most places have been renovated and we wasted a cab ride :-). I think as the city gets more foreigners and minorities, it will become more like Krakow.

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  9. Never been to Warsaw and it definitely wasn’t on my list of places to go. The way you knew the history was amazing. The city although refurbished is quite blappealing.

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    • There’s a new word l never heard :-). Love it. I really like to know things about everywhere and l’m constantly reading. I totally prefer Krakow.

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  10. Beautiful pictures! You always visit some of the most interesting places that I would have never thought to see.

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    • I try. I am interested in going to places that l find appealing. The usual destination also fascinate me though there are some popular places l have no desire to visit..like South America which l find strange :-).

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  11. I understand your mixed feelings. The AirBnB deal is sweet, I’ve still haven’t tried them out. Good food makes everything better.

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    • Oh you need to try AirBnB. I have written a not so favorable post about them in the past, but it’s usually very good. Yep! Food always makes everything better :-).

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  12. The architecture and buildings are all really dope. I love the way the mall look – I wouldn’t have thought it was a shopping mall at all.

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    • Yeah, that mall is really futuristic. You wouldn’t guess mall at first sight. Very well done and the city is very new (old).

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    • Indeed beautiful and the history so fascinating. I hope you get there 🙂

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  13. I have never even thought about going to Poland! But this looks beautiful! I would love to visit.

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    • I am fascinated with their history and so glad l finally went. Krakow l found even more beautiful :-).

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  14. The sights looks so amazing! When it comes to history, you never know what cool things you’ll find. Glad you had a good time!

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  15. I feel like you just gave the most real review of a destination. Not sure I could ever visit Warsaw based on it’s history alone but you have given me things to consider for when I and how I choose places to travel to.

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    • Thanks for reading Kita. Your comment means a lot. Yeah, the history is quite rough and sad and definitely must be considered as part of the whole picture :-).

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  16. Poland is on our list of places to go this year and I wonder if our experiences will differ. The people as you describe it remind me of Prague when we lived there for 3 months in 2014. We were in the suburbs far from the tourists and definitely got some looks…but with time we got used to it and just realized that’s how they were. And once we didn’t take it personally we met some people and made aquaintances. But on the surface, the Czechs (at least in Prague) were not friendly at all. Actually people say that about most East Europeans…
    As far as the city I can understand about the ‘newness’ and feeling that it’s fake. But on the other hand I’d rather they rebuild some old monuments than build shopping centers. Give it 100 years and it’ll look like it was the original 🙂

    Frank (bbqboy)

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    • I’m just amazed that l did not feel the same in Krakow where l felt we got a warm reception. We were in the suburbs in both places (we stayed in the center on the return trip back to Krakow) and felt more welcome in the suburbs of Krakow, even when we got lost and were way deep outside the city :-). I don’t have the luxury of 3 months :-). Maybe l just got them on an off weekend. There are definitely lots of shops in Warsaw..yeah..what’s new will be old again.

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  17. Great recap of your visit to Warsaw. I love the architecture of the mall. I am actually eyeing your husband’s beer lol and the food looked good too.

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    • The food was certainly good, and the beer cheap. No faults there :-).

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  18. Great post as usual KemKem!

    I’m really sorry that you had a less than stellar experience in Warsaw. I know that Erick went there a few months ago, and didn’t like it in the least!

    I’m with Caroline on this. I really like Poland and I’ve been visiting for more than 20 years, but like everybody else I had heard that Warsaw wasn’t worth visiting until I met some people who were from Warsaw. In Lithuania of all places! I decided to visit in October 2015 and surprisingly, I liked it very much.

    Perhaps, it was because I was staying in an Apartment Hotel for Artists. Perhaps, it was because they personally showed me around. Perhaps, it was because we were a few steps from the University. Perhaps it was because in 2015 I was an exotic interesting piece and in 2017, the political wind has changed. I don’t know.

    I would still recommend Warsaw despite the current climate. The history is mixed but interesting, the Old City part of town is extremely walkable as they only have 2 underground lines. Accommodation prices are outrageous, but I found food prices to be extremely cheap if you go where the locals go eg. in milk bars (where they sell only food, not alcohol!). The museums are great. My favourites were the Chopin Museum and the Jewish Museum. In fact, there are benches all over the city where if you sit on them, Chopin comes on!

    Sadly, the refugee crisis, Trump, and Brexit has made Europe lean more to the political Right. Should people be cautious if they don’t feel comfortable?

    Always trust your own instinct.

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    • Thanks Victoria. I know with their history, it’s hard to like outsiders and maybe they were friendlier in Krakow because they weren’t touched as much when it comes to destruction of the city for instance. I definitely encourage anyone who has a desire to travel there to go, if only to discover things for themselves. The experience might also be completely different from the one l had. It could be because l was black, it could be because we are an interracial couple etc..etc..there’s always going to be people who feel one way or the other and l certainly won’t let it stop me from traveling.
      Like l said, if l had the opportunity to visit Warsaw again, I might. If only to find out if the first experience was a one-off. That being said, I wouldn’t say l need to get back there to Warsaw. I would say l need to get back there to Krakow. The vibe and the friendliness and the cheaper prices drew me in. We did not try any milk bars, there were none that l saw.
      We did sit on a couple of those Chopin benches. A nice touch and we enjoyed the statues scattered around the city. Federico definitely liked it a lot more than l did. The Old Town is definitely very walkable and quite big, bigger than l thought it would be and clean too. The prices however left a lot to be desired when compared to Krakow. At no time did l feel threatened or unsafe, just very uncomfortable. The crisis has put everyone on guard and yeah..the leaning is more to the right. I fear for the world because l see what is going to happen. We refuse to learn from the past and we are letting hate win :-(.

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      • Such a shame that you didn’t get to find any milk bars. They tend to be hidden and look drab on the outside, only to be a beacon of surprise, on the inside. Although still quite basic. The one I went to in Warsaw, had the cooks smoking, fried oil dripping everywhere, and the women in socks and plastic flip-flops! You can’t get more authentic than that!

        ‘Hopefully, we will all take a step back and learn from the atrocities of history but sadly, I very much doubt it. I wrote an article about Poland in 2014, and I mentioned the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the prickly relationship between Germany and Poland because of it.

        I’m still getting abuse because of that article, but it doesn’t phase me in the least!

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        • Perhaps next time we will get to visit a milk bar. It sounds fun and l’m sure they have them in Krakow as well. It sounds fun. Yeah, I doubt the world will learn from the mistakes of old. One of the first things in Auschwitz when you tour is that saying. Sad, but reality. So much hate in the world. I know you’re strong, so screw the haters 🙂 :-).

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  19. Interesting take on Warsaw. We’re kind of sort of talking about Poland and other Eastern European destinations for our big summer 2018 trip. That Arkadia Mall plaza reminds me a lot of the Unicredit plaza in Milan – very pretty, well done public space (kids loved splashing in their fountains and no one ran us off!). From looking at your pics and description I think I’d probably come down on Federico’s side of opinion – nice place to visit from first glances and inexpensive = decent place to stay longer.

    Your comments re: being a black person in Poland are interesting (and tragic). That’s something people mentioned to us many times about Europe in general. “You’ll be fine as long as you’re not black”. Our airbnb host had some overtly racist things to say about refugees from Africa but he said them in a very matter of fact way – one that would be considered horribly racist in the US but I guess it passes just fine in Italy. And yeah – I definitely encountered situations where I thought “yep – glad I’m a white dude right now – nobody’s gonna ask me why I’m loitering around here!”. I guess the blanket hatred extends to any muslim or arabic looking people too given more recent refugee trends.

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    • Love how you put it. Blanket of hate. That’s what it is…and it seems to be growing bigger and bigger. I can see why you would want to spend time in Warsaw especially, as long as you’re not black. It is pretty and prices okay, even though Krakow is cheaper in my opinion. It’s insane in this day and time traveling to first world countries to still hear that kind of thing..”as long as you’re not …” (insert hated group, race etc). I see from their side how overwhelming it is to make little money, have really hard lives, then seeing foreigners move in who are totally dependent on the government to survive. These same people won’t hire the Africans just because but yet they resent the government helping them also. Not sure how they are supposed to find the money. I’m no politician and l know it’s a deeper issue, but l often bristle when l feel people are looking at me in a hateful way. Then my cold stare that basically says “Don’t even dare it. You’re not even fit to wipe my shoe. Look at me, then look at you.” comes into play. Sometimes when people say that Blacks, Jewish people, Muslims are being overly sensitive, they don’t realize that 24 hours a day, they put up with BS and it gets old. I am glad that l’m not super young right now. If you choose to do Eastern Europe next year, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time in those countries. I would live in Budapest in a heartbeat :-). We are in Bucharest as l type this and l would live here too. I have yet to see a black person, but the looks are of curiosity, not hate. I can live with that :-).

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  20. Hi Kem Kem!

    Really enjoyed your article. I googled the people of Krakow vs Warsaw as I came into Warsaw today from Krakow. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Krakow!!!!!! The Jewish Quarter was my favourite area and I found the people to be genuinely friendly and kind. I noticed right away that the people of Warsaw were just not as friendly… not even close. Some of the younger people are but it seems much colder here. I am basing my opinions on one day so I will see if this changes over the next week. I’m a professional photographer from Vancouver, Canada and leading a tour in Portugal later in the month….. Lisbon being one of my fav European cities. All the very best to you my friend. and take good care! Wayne.

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    • Hi Wayne,
      So glad to hear that you also love Krakow. I was so surprised at how much l enjoyed the city. I was distraught when Warsaw was the complete opposite. I was also very glad that we had gone to Krakow first as l think it would have dampened my whole trip. The people were so warm and very nice. I’ll be curious to see if you still feel the same way after a few more days.

      You come from one of my very favorite places. I really like Vancouver. I spent my 30th birthday weekend there with some girlfriends and we had an amazing time. We even got to Whistler.

      I bet your troop will enjoy visiting Portugal. It’s a gorgeous place, but l have to slightly disagree with you..haha! Porto is miles better than Lisbon in my opinion. There l could live :-).

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the awesome comment.

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  21. Hello!

    I visited Warsaw last month and experienced the same “vibe” you did. I am Black and love meeting people but I was feeling very discouraged in this city. The stares were not the friendliest and I was traveling alone also. But I will continue to keep traveling!

    Just wanted to let you know you are not alone with your opinion of this city.

    Your blog looks informative and fun. I look forward to your future posts.

    PS My home is H-town.

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    • Hi Lucy! Thanks for adding your voice to this discussion. It’s good to know it wasn’t just me. After having traveled to so many countries, I was quite sure of the vibes that l was receiving. I was so happy that l had visited Krakow first where it was very welcoming and warm. Hard to believe it’s just a few miles down from there and couldn’t be more different. They can keep it :-).

      I like you, will keep on traveling and not let it ruin things for me. It’s the right thing to do. Thanks so much for reading and for the nice compliment H girl. :-).

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