Poland is famous for a vodka-drinking tradition. Nevertheless, there are some popular Polish beers. One famous brewery is Zywiec which was founded in 1852 and nowadays owned by Heineken.
Another well known beer brand is Okocim; an old-established brewery (founded 1845), which is now owned by Carlsberg. Both Zywiec and Okocim lager contain more than 5 % alcohol.
It is customary in Poland that ladies toilets show a circle or the words "dla pan", whereas gents toilets show a triangle or the words "dla panow". This can be quite confusing when only the signs are shown on the toilet doors in a restaurant.
Public toilets usually charge anything between 1 and 2 Zloty, so make sure you have some change available.
Warsaw has not one but two legends of mermaids.
- One is the story of a fisherman named WARS , who while fishing in the river found a mermaid named SAWA, they fall in love and she asked him to found a city that was called WARSAWA
- The other legend tells of two mermaid sisters , living in the Baltic Sea , that were bored and decided to start a long travel (I do not know if with the help of VT) but one went to Denmark and stayed in Copenhagen, while the other went to Gdansk and then swam the Vistula river until she decided to stay in one place that she liked.
Fishermen were worried because their nets were empty of fishes and they did not know why, so they decided to find the reason until they heard the beautiful voice of the mermaid and they vowed not to harm her.
When a wealthy merchant saw her, he tried to catch it, but all the people in the village defended her .
Grateful she promised to defend always the people of that village that would become the current Warsaw
So the mermaid is represented with a shield and a sword in his hand
They are only legends, but are nice
Varsovia no tiene una sino dos leyendas de sirenas .
- Una es la de un pescador que se llamaba WARS estando pescando en el río encontró a una sirena que se llamaba SAWA , se enamoraron y ella le pidió que fundara una ciudad que se llamó WARSAWA
- La otra leyenda es que dos hermanas sirenas que vivían en el Báltico decidieron y aburridas decidieron iniciar un viaje ( No se si con la ayuda de VT ) pero una se fue hacia Dinamarca y se quedó en Copenague , mientras que la otra fue hacia Gdansk y luego siguió nadando por el río Vistula hasta que decidió quedarse en un sitio que le gustó.
Los pescadores se preocupaban porque sus redes estaban vacías y no sabían porqué , así que decidieron buscar una solución hasta que oyeron cantar a la sirena y juraron no hacerle daño.
Cuando un rico comerciante la vió , intentó atraparla , pero todo el pueblo la defendió .
Agradecida prometió defender siempre a ese pueblo que se convertiría en la actual Varsovia
Por eso se la representa con un escudo y una espada en la mano
Tan sólo son leyendas pero son bonitas
Mr Frank Zappa said that many moons ago, and Poland can definitely call itself a real country for they have TYSKIE!
TYSKIE is produced in the town of Tychy (brewery founded in 1629) This is Poland's most popular brew and is one of the Top 10 beer brands (by consumption) in all of Europe.
Let's get one thing straight: I am German. This means that you will NEVER convince me that any other country can produce better beer than we do, but I have to admit that the Poles have come pretty close to creating what I call a "nice beer for both the ladies & men, but not for wussies". I guess strong beer in Poland is to be expected: they are our neighbours after all!
Tyskie is relatively strong with 5.6% alcohol content (Warsteiner has 4.8%, Krombacher around 5,2%, with some German beers reaching up to 12%!) but it's more refreshing than bitter and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Cheers! (in Polish, you say NA ZDROWIE! = "To your health... Cheers!")
--> Click on the pictures to see their advertising campaign & on how to order a beer in Polish...
"Well I woke up Sunday morning,
with no way to hold my head, that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert."
- (Johnny Cash)
"The problem with the world is
that everyone is a few drinks behind."
- (Humphrey Bogart)
Bazyliszek is a Polish name for the basilisk, in Greek and European bestiaries and legends, a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power of causing death by a single glance. Look here or watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In Poland, Krakow has a dragon while Warsaw has a basilisk. You can find a restaurant, patisserie, bar etc. called Bazyliszek as well as pictures of the monster on walls of some Warsaw houses and in gift shops, on T-shirts. In common language we also use the phrase "wzrok bazyliszka", the basilisk's glance which means a glance which kills.
A medieval legend, told to kids by their parents, says that once three kids - in hope to find some treasures - went downstairs to a cellar in Krzywe Kolo (Crooked Circle St.) where according to common belief some strange things happened. As soon as the first of the kids opened the door he suddenly passed out like being hit by a thunderboat.
The two other kids, a brother and sister, scared to death, saw an awful monster with terrible, prominent eyes glowing with red and yellow. They realized that it was a basilisk causing death by a single glance. The kids were staying with no move the monster not to notice their presence.
When the kids didn't come back home for a lunch their parents started to look for them. They were told to ask for an advice an old and wise wizzard, doctor, alchemist and astrologer. The master announced that there was a way to survive the kids but very, very difficult and risky. The brave man was needed to enter the basilisk cellar being the whole dripping with mirrors, so the basilisk looking at the mirror would kill himeself. And they found a daredevil who did it. The basilisk, indeed, killed himself by a single glance in a mirror and stopped to terrorize Warsaw. Scared to death kids joined their happy parents and endless crowds of Warsaw citizens were celebrating the death of the monster long hours.
In celebration of composer Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday, there are 15 black granite benches placed around Warsaw at sites that are connected with his life. Each bench has a button you can press to hear a 30 second snippet of one of his compositions, a route map and an explanation regarding what connection that place has to the life of Chopin. Chopin was born near Warsaw and lived there until he was in his early 20s. He moved to Paris where he died in 1849 at the age of 39, having never returned to Poland. He is buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris but his heart was removed and was returned to Warsaw, buried in a pillar at Holy Cross Church.
I don't travel with a phone but several sources say that each one has a special code where you can take a picture with your phone, send to the instructed number and get free access to Chopin melodies, facts, figures and photographs.
Some of the places you can find the benches include Krasinskich Square, where Chopin performed his f-minor concerto in 1830; Miodowa and Kozia Street, where Chopin was a frequenter of cafes; the Radziwill Palace, where 8-year-old Chopin gave his first public concert; Saski Park, where little Chopin used to play; Nowy Swiat near the Zamoyski Palace where one of Chopin's sisters used to live; Lazienki Park near the Chopin Monument.
Since we were there on an early summer weekend, we encountered a bunch of weddings, seemingly at every church in the old town of Warsaw and that's quite a few! What these weddings all seemed to have in common was small bridal parties of just 4 people, a large gathering of people outside the church kissing the bride and congratulating the groom and most of them had snazzy cars to deliver the bride and groom to their wedding party. The BMWs paled in comparison to the classy Rolls Royce we saw at least two of the weddings.
While visiting Warsaw and at one of the tiny bars I used to go to drink beer (either Zywiec or Warka, both polish), I noticed that that particular bar could offer 19 different brands of vodka for sale by the glass !!! - I was told this is pretty normal all over Poland.
Other drink options were: 6 different types of Beer, 1 Whiskey (Ireland) , 4 Whiskys (Scotland), 2 Tequilas, 2 Rums, and 1 Gin, besides Martine, Coca-cola and other sodas. But, 19 different types of Vodka !!! - Definitely, Poland is a "Vodka Country".
The bar tender told me 90% of the consumers drink Vodka, not beer (like me while there).
Additionally, note that that at this particular no food was served. Only drinks.
On the MTAS the Warszawa University also had a stand. Here they offered traditional music and a group of the students dressed up in colourful traditional cloths, to entertain us with some singing and dancing.
Warsaw is a strange and different city. There are quite numerous balls and closed parties for all those called "rich and famous" but no public New Year's Eve celebration for those less rich and famous. There are quite many "rich and famous" living in and close to Warsaw. When I saw Borowski I almost wanted to change my hotel :-). Well, Warsaw is the modern, cosmopolitan and fast growing city of economic boom with the lowest unemployment rate and the highest average income per head with almost 300,000 companies registered and many foreign investments. It's the capital city of 26th world's largest economy in 2004 (by GDP), probably 20th economy soon with all that growth Poland luckily experiences (5% prognosis for 2006).
So, would you like to meet Polish "rich and famous"? It could be both interesting and give you some fun, I guess. And it's suprisingly not that much expensive. Just one example. In winter 2006, I saw large advertisement of "Napoleon's Ball" which was going to take place in mysterious castle changed into a 3-star hotel and conference center in Pultlusk, some 60 km north of Warsaw. It cost 390 zl (100 euros) per person in total: the fancy ball with luxury food, room for one night and brekfast. Add cost of the hotel shuttle. Is it very much for you?
From a visitor's point of view such crazy idea like joining a ball may have mostly one disadvantage: you must dress up, either bring your own evening suit (ladies) or a man's suit. I have another idea for men. You may easily buy a really high quality suit at reasonable price lower than in your country (if it's, say, Canada, the USA, Western Europe, Australia, Japan) in Warsaw (details in my shopping tip).
So, what about the next meeting in Warsaw in suits and evening dresses? Haha, I am sure that VT-gang would behave better than some Polish "rich and famous" and such event would be the next Warsaw-VT-custom :-).
We saw a number of weddings as we moved around Poland. Saturdays are full of celebrations, and wedding parties choosing a variety of ways to announce their union. I've been struck by the way the Polish wedding couples can be seen circling a square in a horse and carriage, walking the streets together, or having their pictures taken by the public as well as their photographer. We came upon a wedding in the New Town where the bride and groom were carrying out an old tradition. The guests throw coins at the couple and they must pick every one off the ground. It started out very dainty, but soon the whole group was stooped to retrieve the full amount of coins thrown. In my country, it was traditional to throw rice (where did that come from?) but now they say it isn't good for the birds, so we sometimes see people blowing bubbles towards the bride and groom. Lots of merriment.
I was so excited when I saw Gosia's new Polish flag flying on her balcony when I got up on August 1. Finally after so many years, the Poles are allowed to commemorate the day when so many of their countrymen died in trying to save Warsaw from the German army. (Warsaw Uprising 1944) This new holiday and the new Uprising Museum are all very important to the people of Warsaw.
We were counting the buildings where we saw the flag flying that day. I think it will take time for the habit to develop as much as we do it in the U.S. That was something Gosia noticed when she was visiting me in the U.S. So many flags everywhere...a demonstration of patriotism which they were restricted from for a very long time.
Don't get confused over the signs for the little girls & boys room. The circle is for girls and the triangle for boys = simple if you have read Dan Brown's book! You will have to pay for the pleasure though but not much 1 - 2 zlotys. I was surprised however that the restaurants and bars also charge - even if you are a paying customer at their tables. Interestingly the U Fukiera restaraunt and MacDonalds don't charge
After having one last look at the Escarpment before getting a taxi to the airport we came upon this Church while walking back to the Hotel. The Church is Our Lady Mary's Visitation and is said to be one of the oldest Churches in Warsaw dating back to the 15th. Century. Our Lady Mary's was lost in the ll WW but was rebuild in red brick in the Gothic style you see today. I particularly liked the love hearts which you can see in the photo at the top of the ribs. She sits in peaceful isolation at the top of the escarpment overlooking the Vistula River.
As we turned to go we heard singing and bells tinkling, the whole congregation emerged from the Church singing, ringing bells & carrying great banners. We then noticed as they emerged back through the second arch other onlookers kneeling down on the ground. I can only assume that the Bishop was in attendance. If anyone can enlighten me I would be grateful.
. Stefan Wyszynski was born in Poland in 1901. He became Bishop of Warsaw on 12th. November 1948. He was latter imprisoned by the Communist Regime from 1953 to 1956. Stefan Wyszynski died on 28th. May 1981 and is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral Warsaw. Given his long life through very turbulant times in Poland he must have witnessed and endured a lot for the love of his Church.