What to buy: As I was browsing along in Old Town, I was fascinated by the Christmas ornaments made from gingerbread. They are cut and decorated, then coated with a protecting seal. All kinds of shapes and sizes! They were fun to look at and imagine a Christmas tree filled with them. I did some research on these ornaments (I was curious) and learned that it is a tradition in Poland to make your tree ornaments during Advent – and gingerbread is one of the types made. The ones I saw looked like they would last many years if stored properly (and not dropped!).
What we call here at home a
"Package Store" where you can
purchase just alcohol, we set out
to locate a nice one in Warsaw to
get a couple of bottle for gifts.
While wondering around Warsaw we did find
the following place that has a a great selection
to offer, both for everyday and for gifts ....
Store Name: "Sklepie Long Drink"
What to buy: We purchased the following:
Bottle - Bison Vodka
Bottle - Cherry Liquor
The price was very reasonable, and
the staff was friendly and very helpful ....
There are numerous, similar in design, kiosks put along streets in both Warsaw and other cities in Poland. They are marked by yellow sign RUCH (it's a name of the company and means movement in Polish) on green background. It's a place where locals buy daily newspapers, magazines, tickets for public transportation and cigarettes.
What to buy: Except the above mentioned items, they offer postcards, sometimes (hmm... rarely) stamps, some small gifts, basic cosmetics, and many other various small items (pens, envelopes, pencils), some located in central, key points sell also newspapers in foreign languages, some travel books/guides and maps of Warsaw.
What to pay: Prices for locals, that means the low ones.
There are a few shops behind passport control points along the corridor in Duty Free Zone of the Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport designed for passenger leaving Poland. Goods sold in the shop signed DUTY FREE are free of Polish taxes and duties so they are significantly less expensive than anywhere else. Watch for a line :-). Certainly you may pay either by cash (many currencies) or card.
Unfortunatelly these duty free outlets were abolished for travel within the European Union (EU) in 1999 (for Poland 1, May 2004) but are retained for travellers whose final destination is outside the EU. So, if you travel to a country outside EU and prove it showing cashier your boarding pass, Polish duties and taxes will be deducted. Otherwise not. Keep in mind that duty free purchases must not be given to anybody before you leave Poland. Well, in the USA (at Dulles International Airport by Washington, DC) my two bottles of duty free bourbon whiskey :-) were personally brought and temporarily given to my plane staff by the shop assistant. So, I could touch my bottles for the first time boarding the plane. Thanks, guy :-)
What to buy: They sell mainly alcoholic beverages, liquors, tobacco products, cosmetics and some gifts. I'd recommend something Polish, maybe interesting looking bottle of Chopin vodka for a fift or own use. It's the only luxury potato vodka in the world.
Warning: check custom rules of the country you go to not to buy more alcolol, tobacco products or cosmetics than is allowed to import (custom free).
What to pay: Cigarettes (Marlboro) were over twice less expensive than in the USA while Chopin vodka 3 times in 2004.
It's a small Polish chain store and cafe which sells aromatic, roasted seeds of the coffee plant of numerous brands (single, mixed, flavoured -per weigh) daily from 11 am until 9 pm. They also sell porcelain coffee cups and some accesories for making caffee. The very friendly woman which runs it could write books on caffee. Simply it's a great place for every dedicated fan of excellent caffee.
Before you decide which brand of caffee to buy, you may taste it. There are a few small tables put inside small room designed in coffee and... old colonial Africa style. Well, the Polish name "Pozegnanie z Afryka" means "Out of Africa." Do you remember the famous movie (1985) by Sydney Pollack based on the novel by Karen Blixen and titled "Out of Arrica" starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford?
What to buy: There are two main species of the coffee plant:
A. Coffea arabica that naturally contains very little caffeine. It's is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Arabia (and Ethiopia) for well over 1,000 years and it's considered produce the best coffee of the commercially grown coffee species. I liked:
1. fruit-acid taste of expensive Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee that is grown in the Blue Mountain Area of Jamaica.
2. refreshing walnut taste of Kostaryka (Costarica) SHB Tarrazu San Rafael.
Next time (maybe in Krakow's "Pozegnanie z Afryka") I have to taste and maybe buy Hawaje (Hawaii) Kona Captain Cook extra fancy.
B. Coffea canephora (robusta), which contains about twice as much caffeine and has its origins in western Africa. It"s included in instant coffee and in espresso blends.
Try strong and high-caffeine Indie Cherry robusta if you want to wake up immediatelly :-).
What to pay: Prices vary (30 times!) from inexpensive to very expensive brands.
The shop in Warsaw Uprising Museum offers some simple gifts and postcards but first of all good choice of books about Warsaw Uprising and in general WWII both in English and Polish. In fact this is a tiny and crowded bookstore.
What to buy: I bought an 84-page book or rather brochure titled "Pamiec Powstania '44" (Memory of Uprising '44) issued by Rzeczpospolita newspaper for the Museum. It's great guide both to museum (with detailed maps of museum) and to history of those times from the beginning of WWII (German and Soviet invasion 1939) to communist terror against Warsaw insurgents.
For English readers interesting in history of WWII I strongly recommend "Rising '44. The Battle for Warsaw." by Norman Davis, a British historian, issued in 2004. Polish edition is a bit larger than English as I noticed. I've read this book and found it fascinating. I got to know that this history is still alive and open. I mean some new, next files may be found in the archives and change opinions of serious historicians again and again... Hmm... human minds are not so fast to change opinions... on communism for example. Open my next pictures to see other books in English.
What to pay: Books cost some 10 - 90 zl (2.6 - 24 euros).
This is a very nice bookstore in which there are second hand books in many langugaes, but mainly in Polish. It is a huge building with 150.000 books.
It is open in the weekdays at 9:00-19:00, on Saturdys and Sundays 10:00-17:00
This is more than just another cafe. It's also a great shop offering a marvelous variety of coffee, coffee-related accessories, pottery etc. It is placed at the southern end of Warsaw's only metro line so you won't have any problems finding it.
In the shop you can have a cup of coffee (a large menu is available) as well as purchase fresh ground coffee. One thing is for sure - you can enjoy a very good service and hospitable atmosphere there :)
Brand new multistorey shop with good selection of books (including travel and English language), press (international included) and music/movies in the basement. On the top floor they have a caffe where they sometimes organize events/exhibitions and concerts.
The building has its old tradition of being Jablkowski Brothers's department store - worth checking out!
What to buy: Anything of books/music/movies you like at reasonable prices since they enter the market and want to compete with established outlets -> offer various discounts on regular basis.
What to pay: Due to the common special promotions - reasonable pricing.
It is a small food shop at touristy place of Warsaw. It is very convenient, as you don't have to walk far away to buy some nice Polish sausages or beer ;)
The place was not so far from hostel we stayed at.
What to buy: Mostly food, drinks.
We headed to the Kolo Bazar on Saturday morning, awfully glad that I didn't listen to the hubby when he suggested that it was walkable from our hotel, the tram ride itself was probably 15-20 minutes. Open both Saturday and Sunday, you'll find an array of junk, bric a brac, collectibles, antiques and fakes at this market. There was quite a bit of WWII era things, many of which are obvious reproductions and some of which make you wonder if they haven't been helped along in the ageing process. We bought what we think is an authentic matchbook cover from WWII for someone who collects that stuff and I bought a ceramic Misha olympic bear and a few pins from the US boycotted Moscow Olympics from a man with a wide array of Soviet goods.
In Your Pocket says it's expected to bargain here but honestly the prices seemed reasonable so we bartered a bit but not agressively.
Some of the vendors appeared to be watching other people's stuff which was a bit frustrating, we heard come back tomorrow several times but that just wasn't possible.
It's almost a little disappointing finding a megamall behind the central train station, both in Warsaw and in Krakow, I hope it doesn't mean the death of the individual shopkeeper in Poland like it has in so many places in America. We didn't spend much time in here, we were looking for Bison Grass vodka and the liquor store near our hotel wasn't open yet so we stopped here and ended up finding a good price at Carrefour, the supermarket in the mall. There's also a high end liquor store called Chopin Luxury that was slightly higher priced (we found it even cheaper at duty free at the airport which is why we brought back 3 bottles instead of two). After buying the liquor we headed straight for the doors, malls are a depressing place to be on a bright sunny afternoon.
A couple of blocks north of the Westin where we stayed we found a huge food and flower market located inside and around two art nouveau market halls, anything and everything you'd want to eat can be found here. There's a traditional supermarket in the center of it but the fun part is walking around to all the different vendors and buying their specialty-bread, pastries, fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, eggs. Obviously, the market is more for locals than tourists but we were able to find provisions for breakfast and for lunch on the plane ride home, avoiding the $30US breakfast charge at the Westin and the nasty lunch served on LOT. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to find one of the many bakeries and try a Polish specialty and reportedly the Pope's favorite dessert, kremowka, which is very similar to a napoleon.
The flower market is also quite extensive, both cut flowers and flowers to plant.
This is a factory shop of one of the best chocolate factories in Poland, the Warsaw firm Wedel (pronounced vaidl). Here you can buy all their products - from many kinds of chocolate sweets to the elegant boxes of chocolates, so convenient as gifts for all occasions. You can get them in other shops and malls as well but here you have the whole spectrum of them to choose from. Mind you the prices can be slightly higher here than you would pay for the same products elsewhere but the goodies are guaranteed to be very fresh, straight from their factory.
It is also a place where the local people, especially the elder generation, meet for a cup of drinking chocolate to savour the olde worlde atmosphere of the stylish interior, to talk and people watch. The building where the shop is located dates back to 1893 and was modelled after the French Renaissance.
What to buy: Chocolate of course, of all kinds, from the famous mixed chocolate sweets in a bag (in Polish 'mieszanka czekoladowa'), through an assortment of chocolate bars and boxes of chocolates. You might like to try 'chocolate barrels' (barylki) filled with alcohol or their famous decorative chocolate wafer cake, all making welcome gifts from Poland.
What to pay: The shop is no more expensive than the other shops of its kind
A hyper modern shopping arcade has arisen around the Central Station of Warszawa. However, main shopping centers offer hardly any traditional Polish items and for the basis of globalisation in every large city in the world.