Monday, 14 November 2011

Warsaw by Night, OK?

Having written the last post, I was quickly reminded that some people prefer living in the city, at least some of the time. Sure: no problem. My preference to live outside partly reflects the fact that I no longer have to commute in every day, combined with the London feeling that much of the greater city's urban area is so grotty that would be better to travel further distances from more pleasant housing areas, if only one could afford it. This is standard commuter stuff in London, which applies far to less to the more pleasant conditions in Warsaw.

From 2011 10

Even living on the edge of Warsaw in Jelonki, I was only some 6km from the centre with the efficient tram service making the journey to work an easy task. Driving in outside the rush hour was very easy, whilst the rush hour just required a little patience. Parking can take a bit of time driving around at peak periods, but it is always possible. Living well within the urban London area, I was still some 11 km from work. Commuting train and bus services were appalling and leisure travel to the centre rarely even considered. Friends who came from outside did have problems with trains, but this was occasional rather than routine: falling asleep on the train and passing the stop on the way home was as much of a worry.

What I probably miss most about wandering around Warsaw centre is seeing and being enticed by new restaurants. It is now only some half an hour's drive into the centre in the evening and the effort isn't much greater than it was from Jelonki, but just not regulalry being there means that we don't know about and try different places. Although this is called the Brazil Brewery, it seemed to be a combined restaurant and bar: it looked great and the music was good. I was killing time on my own before going to the theatre when I saw it, so didn't try it. As it would need joint approval before we went there, the lack of ability to do this may mean I never go.

I'm greatly disappointed by Polish theatre, but am always interested to go: I never went in London so I can't compare it. I very occasionally attend opera, although again purely out of interest: it's not my kind of thing. Arranging these and attending is no harder from where we live than it would be in Warsaw and I do feel that "it's a long journey back so we haven't got time to go to a restaurant" is really just an excuse for getting home quickly: we have time if we want.

I do like the sights of the city, but that is made even more enjoyable be not being there continuously or, when I first went to Warsaw, by being in a different place. After 55 years living amongst brick, concrete and tarmac, a couple of years in semi-urban countryside hasn't diminished my sense of wonder in something new.

Whilst wandering around, I do like to find somewhere to get a cup of coffee. I'd stopped at a coffee shop when I arrived - the coffee and service neither being up too much, but I had time to wander further, with the pictures here resulting. I came across one of the new Ruch kiosks, which I have joked about in a previous post.

This actually has a coffee machine, which I had to try. The man was very friendly and came out to help me. Actually, it was just a matter of putting the cup in the holder and pressing the button, but I guess some people have problems. Chatting to him, he told me that these kiosks are being put all along Marshal's Road (Marszałkowska). They are light, open and friendly looking places and much more attractive than the old ones.

This picture isn't his kiosk, as there wasn't a good place to rest the camera to get even this fuzzy picture. The large glass front, allowing one to see both the person in the shop and the things they have to sell, looks much better than the old style letterbox access point. I wondered whether the heating had been improved, but even though the frosts had not then set in, he was already cold. It is probably not a good place to sit when the real winter comes in. On the other hand, the coffee was hot, which gave it a major advantage over the coffee shop I had visited earlier, no matter the quality of the coffee. I wondered whether they have a toilet, but didn't ask.

Whilst speaking of coffee and toilets, I was intrigued to find that a McDonald's coffee shop had been opened at Maximus near us. I do not like their food and their machine coffee isn't brilliant, so I was looking forward to being able to get a decent cup of coffee whilst everyone else was eating.

I ordered a large coffee with milk. The man serving took some time and effort in producing a very large cup of coffee, which in size and looks appeared to be halfway between a normal coffee with milk and a French style cafe-au-lait: a large bowl of coffee tasting milk. The result turned out to be cold and tasteless. Having drunk about two thirds, I decided to compare it with the machine coffee from behind the main food counter. This was hot and stronger and the coffee itself seemed to taste much the same. I didn't even bother with the coffee counter the next time.

It's a nice looking place, though.

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