This week has involved me feeling ill with tonsillitis, having a bad chest, giving myself a scalded arm and on a more positive note travelling abroad for work. To Poland, to be precise.
I’ll be honest with you, when I was asked to attend the pitch meeting in Poland and I found out it was an overnight stay, the main reason I went was for the opportunity. I was expecting Poland to be not that pleasant and judging on my last job (big mistake) that we’d be staying in some run-down cheap as can be hotel. Plus as we all know when it comes to meetings I turn to a bundle of nerves, until I’m actually face-to-face with the people and then I’m fine!
We travelled to Poland on a budget airline (Wizz Air), which I must admit I’d never heard of before and after I panicked about the limited luggage allowance (and then marvelled at my achievements in packing such a small bag) was surprised to find the flight was relatively quick at just over 2 hours.
I’d seen details on the hotel the afternoon before we left and it looked lovely, on arriving I was pleased to find it was just as good in real life! We were staying in Warsaw, in the old town and were about a 30 minute cab ride from the Warsaw Chopin airport.
Well all I can say is wow when it comes to the old town, such a picturesque area. By the time we were unpacked and went out for dinner it was dark and all the little streets twinkled with lights. There were numerous cafes and restaurants with tables outside on the cobbles under big umbrellas. The big squares and beautiful buildings really reminded me of the piazzas in Rome. Shop after shop of ice cream parlours selling huge towering cones and warm waffles seemed a hit too!
On the evening we arrived we took a stroll around the area and were hoping after our meeting the next day we’d have a little time to explore, but due to a long meeting, a studio tour (more later!) and taxi troubles it was not to be.
However, we happened to stumble upon a very quirky looking restaurant – full of decorations/lights/plants/vases and more – and decided to give it a go. It turns out the restaurant is owned by a local celebrity TV chef, so we couldn’t have picked a better option and the pricing was reasonable. I ended up dining on Lithuanian dumplings in a butter sauce, venison in a rich sauce, served with potato dumplings and a apple stuffed with beetroot/red cabbage pickle. This was then greedily followed with a chocolate, rum and walnut stuffed pancake.
Those of you who've eaten food in Poland will know it is very very rich and very very heavy!
Other delicious delights enjoyed over the trip were a super indulgent hot chocolate (which was literally like drinking thick melted chocolate) and some potato pancakes. The house wine (although only a small amount was sampled) was pretty good too!
Perhaps it was the sunny weather that made it so, but all five of us on the work trip said we felt like we were on a holiday, the area was so nice and the fact lots of the cobbled areas are fully pedestrianised make it even nicer. No traffic, no car fumes, no noise – it was lovely!
On the drive from the airport we were also surprised how green it was, travelling to a capital we expected there to be lots of buildings, concrete and dirt. However, there was a long and wide tree-lined road and lots of parks. Of course I appreciate we only saw a minimal amount and we were staying in what I imagine is a more tourist-friendly area, but what we saw we loved.
I guess the only thing that could take getting used to is the people – although the prospective clients we met and the staff in the hotel and the first restaurant we went to were super friendly and couldn’t have been nicer, others were not so. Polish people seem very abrupt and have a quite cold manner about them – or at least that’s what I found on this very brief trip.
Bad points? I guess here I would have to say traffic – the place is swarming with traffic and we constantly hit traffic jams, no matter what the time of day. Plus the cabs we travelled in never seemed to have heard of air con or opening their windows so any experience of driving involved lack of air and lots of sweat, not nice! Ha! I guess other ‘bad’ points I should list was the super slow service in not one but two separate restaurants we experienced at lunchtime (I have never seen anything like it), the waiters from the first restaurant chasing us and demanding we pay for the drinks we never had and also my experience of being semi-trapped in the client toilets we visited (thankfully my colleague helped get me out before we had to call someone from their company!)
Check out some of my pics below (unfortunately I didn’t have my camera so my HTC camera had to be used, not the best quality, but better than nothing!)