Safety Tips in Warsaw

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  • evaanna's Profile Photo

    Trick or treat the Polish way

    by evaanna Updated Apr 30, 2008

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    When you park your car in Warsaw you may sometimes be approached by a 'helpful' man, or even just a boy of twelve or so, who will offer to look after the car for you while you go shopping or sightseeing. The sum that he demands for it is usually small but there is a hitch. If you refuse, you may, on coming back, find your car badly scratched with a nail. I have come across this in the centre in Aleje Jerozolimskie, opposite the Palace of Culture, but there may be more such places. Actually, this ugly practice can be met in other Polish towns as well but Warsaw is the most notorious for it.
    Update: It was only a week ago that we encountered this again, and again in Aleje Jerozolimskie, when we parked there to go to the restaurant Kredens. It was Sunday and there was plenty of parking space but an emaciated man, probably a drunk or a drug addict, pretended to secure a place for us. When we got out, he stood there and waited, saying nothing but we already knew what it was all about and gave him a coin. A woman, perhaps his wife or girlfriend, was carrying on the same business nearby.
    It seems that everybody knows about it by now, except the police.

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  • scottishvisitor's Profile Photo

    Please don't add to this attrocious custom

    by scottishvisitor Written Aug 19, 2006

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    I only took one picture of the graffitti which was evident on many buildings and streets as I don't like to be negative on most places I visit, I don't know but think it is painted over as soon as possible. We saw one act of Graffitti on a buildng which mentioned King's Cross in London. Warsaw took great pride in re building its past, please do not abuse their work by adding sensless and meaningless graffitti.

    Grafitti

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    The crazy wather

    by PolishChick Written Sep 11, 2004

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    The wather might be crazy!!!! You can never really tell when it`s gonna rain- even in the summer!!! So beware!!! ;) We always laugh at meteorologists, because they can never get it quite right. So don`t listen to whatever they say and always bring an extra layer with you.

    Did they get it this time???

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  • evaanna's Profile Photo

    Mind the gap

    by evaanna Updated Jun 25, 2005

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    The underground is a great, if only partial, solution to Warsaw's traffic jams. It is accessible to wheelchair users and mothers with children in pushchairs as there are lifts at all the stations. However, actually getting on the train may prove tricky, particularly if wheelchair users want to do it without any help. There is a gap between the train and the platform big enough for the wheel of a wheelchair or a pushchair to get stuck in. I have seen it happen. Fortunately, the girl in the wheelchair was being pushed by her mother. If there had been no one to help her, she would have been in real danger. There have even been cases of people getting their feet in the gap, though no serious accidents have been noted.

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  • evaanna's Profile Photo

    Ugh!

    by evaanna Written Jan 6, 2006

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    Warsaw is a city of dog lovers but few of them live in houses with gardens. So thousands of dogs are taken for walks in public places every day. Nobody minds that if they are kept on a leash or even if the well-behaved ones run freely. But dogs, like all creatures, need to defecate, and, what's worse, don't mind doing this in public places: mostly on the lawns but sometimes on the pavement. Most dog owners wait till they have finished but then walk away, pretending that nothing has happened. Very few clean after their dogs. The result is obvious. So be careful, especially getting in or out of a car or walking in grassy areas - it is there that accidents happen most frequently.

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    Toilets are not always free

    by AcornMan Written Sep 8, 2004

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    One thing I discovered in Warsaw is that many establishments do not have free toilets. Even at restaurants where you are a paying customer you may still have to pay to use the toilet. More than half the toilets seemed to be free, but it's a good idea to keep some change in your pocket in case you have to pay for one. The typical going rate was one Zloty (about 25 cents US).

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Watch for Polish cherry and do enjoy! :-)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    While you are in great, amusing company watch for Polish hard drinks. They are often inexpensive and addictive. We, a bunch of 24 VT-ers in Piwna Kompania restaurant, gave a small gift from the restaurant: one small glass of delicious Polish cherry (Cherry Cordial, "wisniowka" in Polish) per each VT-head. Well, sweet midnight liquid warmed our bodies and encouraged us to order next glasses (10 zl/2.6 euros per each minus 10%)... one by one...

    I can only tell you what MAY happen then. Do you want the whole list? Well, just top 5 in possibly chronological order:
    1. you may agree to get merry unknown woman :-)
    2. you may take artistic pictures (open the next picture, please, to see what I mean)
    3. you may forget your hotel room number and a strange, foreign name of your VT-friend for whom the room was registered
    4. you may not be able to open room door and thus put your body on a 5-star hotel corridor (well, hotel security knows how to make your sleep better, 5-star guys :-)
    5. you may wrongly think the next morning that you put your body in "wrong" bed :-)

    Luckily you may forget points 1-5 by the next morning :-). Keep smiling and do enjoy. Cheers :-))). One more "wisniowka", please!

    WOW! THANK YOU FOR THAT GIFT :-) ARTISTIC AFTER-CHERRY PICTURE
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Watch for furious dogs :-)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Jan 28, 2006

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    First, let me say what is furious dog ("wsciekly pies") in Poland:
    Take:
    - 1 part raspberry syrup
    - 3 parts well chilled Polish vodka
    - 2-4 drops of Tabasco sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper
    Fill 1/4 of a small shot glass (25 g) with raspberry syrup. Slowly pour vodka over it. The vodka should form a separate layer (use a small spoon to guide vodka to the surface of the syrup). Add drops of Tabasco or a pinch of Cayenne on top. Drink in one gulp. (source: below; in pub Lolek it is called Furious Dog in English and costs 8 zl/2.1 euros).

    Tasia taught me how to drink it correctly ---> mix and fast drink in ONE gulp. Thank you, Tasia :-). Options in the local custom tip.

    Well, I have to warn you that this drink is addictive and an unusual and funny way of ordering drinks in pub Lolek (you have to make a trip for them) may encourage you to order more shots at once. Then... one by one and you may (just first 5):
    - take pictures similar to the last one (open it),
    - ask the musicians to play what you like: U2 in Tasia's and my case (warning: they are not allowed to take any money, they are already paid by the pub!),
    - forget that you ordered roasted potatoes in the seperate coal grill room/tent,
    - confuse a waitress by a bar by taking her pictures,
    - switch language to not your native one and speak with your natives in a foreign language.

    Cheers! Do enjoy! One more Furious Dog, please! :-)))

    9 FURIOUS DOGS AND TASIA :-) 9 FURIOUS DOGS ON THE TABLE! CHEERS! :-) 6 FURIOUS DOGS LEFT ON THE TABLE! CHEERS! CHEERS (NA ZDROWIE!) FROM MATCRAZY1 :-))) PUB LOLEK AFTER ALL FURIOUS DOGS :-)
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Food warnings

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 12, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ETHNIC FOOD
    In the middle 1990' I went to a Turkish restaurant. It was shortly after my trip around Turkey when I fell in love in Turkish cuisine. My meals had only Turkish names but they were neither Turkish nor Polish. God knows what meals their "creative" cook prepared. Only my bill was fat. Something similar happened to me with Italian and Greek food in Warsaw as well.

    As for what is called Chinese food (all SE Asian food is often called Chinese in Poland) simpler and cheaper place, better food. The best was that one cooked in small kiosks on a street close to the Russian bazar and stadium (Stadion X-lecia).

    Generally if you choose top, luxary ethnic restaurant you should give real ethnic food but expect to pay a fortune as for Poland. My conclusion is to skip ethnic and fast food restaurants and look for good Polish food available in local restaurants of each prize category.

    FAT SAUCES AND MAYO
    Warsaw cooks especially in cheaper and medium-priced restaurants tend to make thick and fat, flour-creamy sauce and top meat and potatoes with it. Ask the waiter not to add any sauce or serve it in a seperate pot. Lucky you if she/he understands you haha. The cooks tend to add a lot of mayo-based or/and fat cream-based sauces (of numerous unknown recipes) to all salads as well.

    TIPPING
    Tipping is expected but not obligatory and even not customary among locals except in a fancy restaurant. Usually locals pay round sum 5% - 10% over the one on the receive. Excuse, usually you can't pay a tip by a card but by cash only. The reason is still strange financial law or rather lack of clear law rules about tips. Some crazy layers and politicians (we should export them, do you want any? :-) confuse tips with bribes or want to tax them.

    DON'T SAY THANK YOU :-)
    When you put cash on the table and are going to give a change do NOT say "thank you" to yoyr waiter. It traditionally means that you don't want any change. In that case you might have waited for a change by the restaurant closing :-).

    THICK, FAT, FLOUR-CREAMY SAUCE :-((( SALAD IN MAYO AND CREAM :-((( TOPPED WITH THICK WARSAW SAUCE :-( WHY CAN'T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH, LADY? :-( WARSAW FAST FOOD :-(
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    No air-condition and heat!

    by matcrazy1 Written Feb 13, 2006

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    From time to time summer in Warsaw is hot, for me very hot with maximum temperature exceeding 90 F (32C) which is good weather for lying with no move on a beach under umbrella with refreshing wind from the sea. But such hot days are definetely a nightmare for Warsaw sightseeing. The 1-2 weeks wave of heat happens once a few years only (in June - August) but you may experience a few hot days each summer in Warsaw.

    Keep in mind that air-condition is not a commonly used invention in Warsaw. Well, bank, government offices, supermarkets and shopping malls are aircontioned but most hotels except those 4-5 stars have no air-con as well as most taxis/cabs, all city buses, trams etc. All fancy restaurants and surprisingly quite many medium-priced ones as well as pubs/bars are air-conditioned probably because of a lot of cigarette smoke to remove. Keep in mind that many (most?) locals smoke and only some restaurants (always fancy ones) offer non-smoking rooms.

    THERE IS! AIR-CONDITIONER IN WARSAW!
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    When Russian or Putin's revenge comes :-)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 21, 2006

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We, a group of VT-ers, had a meeting in January 2006, during the coldest days in Warsaw for years. The temperature at night dropped down to even -27C (-16,6F), while it rose to some -15C (5F) at a daytime.

    Many people were complaining about very slow traffic on white streets and risky driving on ice in the first day of extreme coldness before the snow and ice was removed from main streets. Well, I can't stop laughing :-). Many Poles including my taxi drivers in Warsaw were joking that this extreme winter cold attack which, indeed, came from Siberia was in fact a Russian or rather Putin's (Russian president's) revenge for massive Polish support for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine a year before :-).

    Never mind... Although the Orange Revolution happens only once but... what about, say, "the Yellow Revotion" in Belarus probably soon... Well, keep in mind that the very cold weather may come from Siberia again. No worries, it happens once a, say, 30 - 40 years; usually it's not colder than -10C at night and -5C at daytime in winter. Follow the link below to check 10-day weather forecast for Warsaw and keep warm. Look at poor and... happy face of Toyin in my pictures. I guess, he survived the lowest temperature ever, like me :-).

    It was fascinating for me to see for the first time almost empty and covered by snow normally the very busy Market Square (Rynek) and Castle Square in Warsaw where I always had seen crowds of visitors and locals. It had to look a bit similar on the first freezing days of the Martial Law against the Solidarity movement in December 1981 when people were afraid to walk on streets full of troops, tanks and military vehicles. But the people didn't smile that time.

    FREEZING AND HAPPY TOYIN :-) TOYIN AGAIN :-) THE MARKET SQUARE AT ABOUT 10 AM THE CASTLE SQUARE AT ABOUT 10 AM MAIN STREET - NOWY SWIAT - AT ABOUT 10 AM
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Exclusively in Polish

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    May I complain a bit, please?

    Well, the city centre and the old town is quite well signed by new signs put for more and more numerous visitors. They had to spend quite a lot of money for them but... the guy (I think, it's a guy, women are more thorough, right?) from the City Palace (common name of Warsaw city government, guess why? :-) responsible for these signs had to love his power and Polish language a lot. He himself chose what those ignorant visitors who couldn't speak Polish should visit and what shouldn't. Look at the example direction signs in my pictures.

    I can understand that there is no English translation of directions to the Public Prosecutor Office (Districtional and Apeal; brrr... I wouldn't like to be interrogated there) or to the Ministry of Health and Social Care (although it's unique backwater: the worst Polish ministry which works like 20 years ago = in Soviet style, a must see :-) but why there is no translation of directions to a monument to Adam Mickiewicz and to the military church as well as to the main post office (Poczta Glowna)? Are they banned? Re-do it again, guy. But this time pay for it from your personal savings, please, OK?

    I have to e-mail my complaint to him... in Polish. Just in case you would like to join me in your language... the e-mail below, please :-).

    POLISH-ENGLISH-POLISH DIRECTION SIGN EXCLUSIVELY IN POLISH :-(
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    For the early birds

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 1, 2006

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    Being on holiday (and only that time :-) I used to be quite an early bird starting sightseeng at about 8 am or earlier unless I take part in a good party by late night. If my accommodation doesn't offer any breakfast or caffee I start a day from looking for a place to eat something and drink caffee. Well, I was dissaponted in many countries and cities finding everything closed, in Prague, Czech for example but never in Krakow, Poland.

    In Warsaw, hmm... being before 10.00 am, I hardly found only one open place for breakfast in the Market Square - the patisserie Bazyliszek open from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. Open my pictures to see VT-gang searching for morning food.

    It seems that Warsaw businesswomen and businessmen and their employees love to sleep long in the morning. Exactly like me, although me not on holiday. Those locals who start to work at 9.00 am are slow and somewhat sad about their early awakening, I guess, especially on Saturday or Sunday. Try to be understanding for them if possible :-).

    ALI, URSZULA, HIDDEN MARZENA, TASIA OUR JUST AWAKEN LADY IN BAZYLISZEK PATISSERIE :-) URSZULA, I, TOYIN, ALI AND TASIA TASIA, BELARUS AND MARZENA (kikalena), POLAND TOYIN, ARE YOU HUNGRY OR COLD?
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Rarely very cold or very hot weather

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 7, 2006

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    Poland is often wrongly located somewhere far east in Europe, close to Russia and even Siberia :-), thus it's regarded as a very cold country. Haha, once I was asked where to find Polar bears in Poland, once whether we have any summer.

    In fact Warsaw is located in the heart of Europe approximately on a half way between Paris and Moscow and only 5 hours 40 min. (by train) from Berlin, Germany while almost 21 hours from Moscow, Russia. So, the climate is perfect for signtseeing, not very rainy, mostly pretty warm in summer and mostly mild with moderate snow fall in winter. Check Warsaw average (month by month):
    - maximum temperature
    - minimum temperature
    - 24-hr. average temperature
    - rainfall

    But I have to warn you. Once a few years we have very hot (over 32C = 90F) 2-3 weeks in summer and more rarely very cold 2-3 weeks in winter (below -15C = 5F). The winter 2006 seemed to be the coldest ever with temperature dropping down below -20C (-4F) and with heavy snow falls. Well, it took a few up to 24 hrs to remove snow from streets and make traffic a bit faster and safer. Anyway, our city bus came only 2 min. late. We couldn't call a taxi for some time as all lines were busy and we had to get more expensive hotel taxi. We had -29.5C (-21.1F) one night which was the lowest temperature I remember. The highest one was +36C (97F). But... these are very, very rare extremities. Well, in cold weather I at least may dress warmer and concentrate on visits to indoor attractions. The hot weather in a city without common air-condition works worse for me :-).

    Check 10-day weather forecast for Warsaw and do enjoy whatever it is:-).

    DON'T YOU NEED HEAVIER EQUIPMENT, SIR? COLD WINTER DRIVING WINTER TAXI (CALL IN ADVANCE!) -13C = 7F AT THAT THERMOMETER, JANUARY 2006 THE ONLY PUBLIC THERMOMETER, VICTORIA HOTEL
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Flat city but not sidewalks

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 15, 2006

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    Luckily for walking fans Warsaw is completely flat city, except "Skarpa Wislana" between the Old Town and the Vistula River.

    Well, the city is flat but its sidewalks and roads are mostly not, listen to me ladies, fans of high-heeled shoes. Most streets of the Old Town as well as its Market Square are cobbled, sidewalks as well. The nothern part of the Royal Way (Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Nowy Swiat Street) has been already paved with flat asphalt sidewalks but watch your steps in other parts of the city.not to twist your ankle.

    Just in case... do not continue to walk. Call or ask someone to call for a taxi with an English speaking driver. Go first to the nearest drugstore. Buy analgetics in pills and creams, elasticated bandage to wind your ankle (do it at place) or ask about more expensive (and comfortable) other devices. Add crunches (2) which cost some 80 zl (21 euros). They are equipped with funny red in the back and white in front reflectors you to keep walking at night and your disability be well seen by other, more lucky, people :-).

    Go to a doctor at casualty/emergency room, be patient waiting in a long line, think positive, keep smiling and... wait. If you show the European Health Insurance Card or you are a citizen of a few other contries (like Ukraine, China) you don't pay anything. Otherwise expect to pay up to 100 zl (26 euros) for an X-ray, doctor's consultation and a cast. Take a receive in case you are entitled to refund from your insurance company.

    Be sure that your ankle will hurt you more after a few hours... So, 1 day in a hotel room (option: hotel bar) and then... keep smiling, take a taxi at least to Warszaw Uprising Museum (not much walking and handicapped friendly museum :-) and visit Warsaw bars/pubs and restaurants. Good luck :-).

    P.S. Once I was tempoarily handicapped in Lisbon, Portugal :-(. It started in Marbella, Spain...

    COBBLED SIDEWALK AND STREET IN THE OLD TOWN
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