Moving to Warsaw: how to feel at home faster
Someone once called Warsaw eastern Paris – for its baroque beauty, elegant regality and quiet charm. But World War II ruthlessly destroyed more than 85% of urban buildings, and the capital of Poland had to start life anew. It still rises from the ashes, and if the reconstructed sights – the Palace and Market Squares, the Royal Castle – can be blamed for some artificiality (although they were restored carefully and carefully), then little-known corners outside the center still retain their cherished authenticity. This is precisely what people who once moved to Warsaw and loved her as a second home claim with one voice.
Details decide everything
PR specialist Nate Espino moved here from San Francisco 20 years ago and did not immediately get used to unpresentable facades that cut eyes in different Warsaw areas. Locals suggested: looking at the building, it is worth considering whether it is ugly or simply dirty. This instantly changes perception, especially since the city authorities are seriously engaged in sandblasting old houses, and now many of them literally shine.
It is difficult to comprehend Warsaw in a couple of weeks, but patience and a desire to solve its secrets will pay off with interest.
For most Warsaw residents, the true attractiveness of the city is not at all in the exteriors, but in the indefatigable energy boiling in its stone veins. Carolina Luzva, who replaced Lodz with the capital, felt this the very first summer of summer, cycling through the streets every day, watching the life of small cafes, relaxing on the banks of the Vistula and reading history articles in order to better feel the Warsaw character.
Why fall in love with her?
Surprises await in Warsaw where you least expect them. Sasha Naslin, for example, was surprised by a ski station in the center, a tropical beach on the river coast and a deer walking freely in the Lazenki park. A girl with Russian-French roots moved 3 years ago from Belgium and started a blog inspiring discoveries.
Wisla divides Warsaw into two parts, completely different in style and mood.
The West Bank is the embodiment of glamor, the heart of Warsaw’s nightlife, and the East is resurrected by artists who transform the outskirts into art attractions. Sasha prefers the Prague area, which has evolved from an inconspicuous suburb to a concentration of alternative bars, theaters and graffiti. Carolina appreciates diversity more: each of the 18 districts-dzielnits has its own grocery market, an amusement park, cafes and, of course, its own places of attraction for the creative public.
Warsaw is quite compact, and therefore convenient for study.
The secret of the city is in constant updating, restructuring in a literal and figurative sense. If in Krakow there are bars that have existed since the 15th century, then the cultural image of the capital has changed dramatically over the past decades. Nate Espino even compares Warsaw to Beijing: a smaller scale, but the same power and dynamics, the same impudent challenge to more traditional, soft, “combed” tourist cities like Prague.
The first thing to learn is orientation in the chaotic interweaving of streets. Life in Warsaw is fast, so motorists will have to master an aggressive driving style (if they, of course, are not from large Russian cities, then they already have this skill): there is no such traffic anywhere else in Poland. At the wheel you need to constantly be on the lookout, deciding in seconds which lane to be reconstructed and what is the best way to go around a kilometer jam. It is not surprising that many people prefer subway over ground transport – a relatively new, comfortable and understandable one. And inexpensive: travel by public transport in the Polish capital costs 70% less than, for example, in London or Paris.
Food in Warsaw is on average half cheaper than in Western European capitals. Rental housing is available at 60%, entertainment at 55%, clothing at 10-15%.
How to become your own?
Warsawians recommend moving in spring or summer: winter gray and short days are depressing even more than wind and cold. And having arrived, you will immediately make new friends: numerous interest groups, online forums and thematic events will come in handy. Nate is sure that absolutely everything will suit: from sports sections to “drinking buddy clubs” – they drink here culturally, with taste and knowledge of the matter.
You can sign up for an excursion with a wodka tasting (it was through w!), Built here in a cult in the 8th century: the atmosphere is the best for dating.
Many Warsaw speak fluent English. But it’s still worthwhile to learn Polish, because English is primarily a means of business communication, while they speak much more expressively, informatively and fascinatingly in their native language.
Carolina seeks the spirit of the city in personal stories and also advises making friends with the locals, because only they can show truly iconic locations. The amazing roof garden of the Warsaw University Library is one of the best viewing platforms in the capital.