Nonstop Prague to Nice on Sunday on Czech Airlines was $93, but I purchased a LOT Polish ticket instead for Prague to Nice flying Saturday afternoon with a 22.5 hour transit layover in Warsaw for $100.49 one way.
Loyalty Traveler – Art Deco at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague (Free Friday stay).
I had already flown to Warsaw Airport as my ticketed destination two times in 2017, but the first trip I stayed only three hours in the airport before flying off to Gdansk, Poland on a $1.99 USD Ryanair ticket. Seriously, $1.99 for an airplane ticket.
Gdansk was such a blast for me on my two day trip walking around Old Town streets with architecture so reminiscent of Amsterdam that I took my wife Kelley there in June. She loves Amsterdam. She loved our stay in Gdansk.
Cool Gdansk, Poland is hot tourism destination (March 2, 2017).
We arrived in Warsaw Airport WAW in June around 10pm from Barcelona after an all-night flight from Oakland. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express Warsaw Airport, where I earned 34,828 IHG Rewards Club points on a $58USD hotel night. Neither of us had the energy to try and go into Warsaw city that trip.
I actually booked a $63 hotel night reservation for HIX Warsaw Airport again this trip, but canceled it last week after realizing that it would be far easier to see downtown Warsaw if I were staying in a city center hotel.
I booked the InterContinental Warsaw for 30,000 points + $30 to earn credit toward my IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Fall 2017 promotion tasks. Three of my Accelerate tasks for 30,000 bonus points can be completed in 2 nights with one paid hotel stay and one Points + Cash stay. InterContinental Warsaw on a Points + Cash reward night tackled one of those objectives.
Transportation – Warsaw Airport to Warsaw City Center
Getting to Warsaw city center from the airport could not have been any easier. I walked out of the airport customs door to see a Warsaw Tourist Information booth and a Public Service Transport booth.
The woman at the Public Transport booth wrote down which bus or which train to take and even sold me the train ticket to Warsaw Centralna for 4.40PLN ($1.20USD). She told me to follow the green line to the train.
Then, I stepped over to Warsaw Tourist Information for a city map and also grabbed the free In Your Pocket Warsaw Guide and In Your Pocket Warsaw map.
In Your Pocket free tourist guides.
Many hotels I have stayed in Poland have an In Your Pocket city guidebook in the hotel room or in the lobby. In Your Pocket guides are also online. These city guidebooks provide valuable tourist information with recommendations on places to go and restaurants and basic tips.
I have used In Your Pocket guides for visits to Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw. Many pubs I found on my own and really enjoyed are places I later saw were also recommended by In Your Pocket. I have also found some great restaurants and tourist tips from In Your Pocket.
Out of focus photo showing Warsaw Airport Green Line to the train platform.
I failed to follow directions right away by hopping on this S2 train. I noticed the station list display in Polish only on the wall inside the train car did not show Warsaw Central Station among the 15 or so Polish language Warzsawa stations with a second Polish name following. I asked a passenger if the train went to Warzsawa Centralna and he said the S2 train stops at nearby Warzsawa śródmieście (Warsaw Downtown).
The note the woman wrote for me showed S3 train. By then, I saw there was a train on the other track, which I assumed was the S3 train. I checked my Warsaw city map to see both train stations were kind of close together and both not far from InterContinental Warsaw. I figured I might have to walk an extra 150 meters.
Then, I noticed the two maps of Warsaw showed the two train stations in opposite locations. Turns out In Your Pocket transposed the locations of the two stations on their map. Essentially, the two train stations are across the street from each other, so it makes no difference which station you arrive.
I followed the E. Peiter exit sign out of Warsaw Srodmiescie to this street level view.
And this view in the opposite direction.
My eyes were truly captivated by this view.
Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN) is a Soviet designed 1955 skyscraper and still the tallest building in Poland at 237m/778 ft. with 43 floors. It was inspired by American art deco construction, like the Empire State building.
I was also pleased to see the InterContinental Warsaw skyscraper down the street from where I stood outside the train station.
I checked into InterContinental Warsaw and immediately went over to the concierge to ask where I should go for pubs. He circled a couple of streets on the map and said they were about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel. Snapped photos of my room and took a shower, then headed out to find some beer pubs.
Room 2211 had a nice corner location view on the lowest 22nd guest floor of the 43 floor hotel. InterContinental Warsaw has 22-36 guest rooms, 37-41 Club floors and 43 Health Lounge.
InterContinental Warsaw Hotel review to come. Bottom line is a nice and large corner room.
150PLN ($41) in my pocket from the hotel lobby ATM I knew would be plenty for 24 hours of drink and food in Warsaw. Outside in the bright city lights, I quickly observed something I have not seen before in any of my walks around Krakow, Gdansk or Wroclaw. There were several groups of young guys walking around with bottles of beer in the park spaces around the Palace of Culture, the direction I was heading for the pub zone according to the concierge directions.
I have seen the occasional group of Brits drinking on a Krakow tourist guide bike or old park bench drunks, but generally speaking, in the land of prevalent 24 alcohol shops, few people actually drink in public spaces around Poland. Apparently there are hefty fines for public drinking in the land with some of the cheapest alcohol in Europe.
I’ll cut to the chase. I followed groups of pedestrians all heading in one general direction and found the pub and bar streets around Nowy Swiat. I walked around the area for an hour and passed by dozens of pubs, literally at least 50 pubs, but I did not see a pub that provided a good vibe to me. Granted many of the tiny and larger pubs I passed were already filled to capacity at 9pm on a Saturday night. And I mean tiny pubs. I followed a crowd through alleyways to a location with wall-to-wall pubs, many with a capacity for about 20 people max.
The crowds outside the pubs smoking in one area made it difficult to even pass through the walkways. I stepped inside a few pubs and did not hear any recognizable or appealing music.
Eventually I ended up at Binh Minh, a Vietnamese Restaurant for dinner and a beer for 26 PLN ($7.13 USD) in a pleasant, quiet venue.
Predatory Women of Warsaw
Another undesirable aspect of the night was walking by myself meant I was targeted by predatory women of Warsaw on nearly every block. In one hour I had more young women approach me than I have had in all my previous trips to Poland. One woman simply laughed when I saw her walking toward me and said “No. Leave me alone” before she got within 10 feet of my body.
I have spent enough time in Poland to know the game. All the major cities have gentleman’s clubs and the standard deal is a cute young woman approaches you on the street and invites you to go to a bar where you can drink all the beer you want for 50 PLN (about $14). Considering a beer costs 8 PLN, you need to drink a lot to get 50 PLN worth. Her objective is get you inside, upon which she earns bonus pay, and then more cute women work more money out of your pocket.
I actually ended up on the same Warsaw pedestrian alley twice and got targeted by the same cute blond a second time. I reminded her I had already refused her offer once. Then she politely asked me, “Where are you from?”
I said, “California.”
“Did you vote for Trump or Clinton?”
“Hillary Clinton would be President of the United States if only California voters had mattered.”
We proceeded to have a five minute conversation. I shared some information about life in California, a place she imagined in her world view everyone is rich. I did not bother to share details of migrant worker camps in the agricultural fields of Monterey County. Doubt she has read Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Conditions are not necessarily considerably better today in many places, if you are an illegal immigrant working the fields.
The young Polish woman was charming and provided a bit of information to me about Warsaw. But she was working for a living and knew I was not going to be a paying customer, so she politely said good-bye and returned to her prospective customer scouting mission. I continued back to the InterContinental Warsaw.
There was an upscale looking Czech pub and I went inside for a beer. No space to sit and only one space to stand in front of the kitchen food counter if I wanted to drink a Pilsner Urquell pint. I continued back to the hotel.
In the park around the PKiN tower I passed by an interesting diner in an old Warsaw Airlines airplane. I don’t see any links to this dining establishment on a quick Google search, but I noticed some people inside the plane.
The InterContinental Warsaw seemed like the best place for me to hang out on a Saturday night and actually catch up on some sleep in the large king bed. Turned out to be a restless night for sleep.
Go west young woman.