Wednesday : From Piotrków Trybunalski to Warsaw and a New Craft Beer Bar

Another breakfast at the Mercure Piotrków Trybunalski, with the same friendly and energetic staff member as the previous morning. I’m unsure what the cheese was, but I assume it was a smoked cheese and it was much better tasting than I had expected. Anyway, enough about food.

After a five minute walk from the hotel, I arrived at the city’s railway station, which was first constructed in 1846 as the mainline between Warsaw and Vienna. It’s hard to imagine today that in 1942 the Nazis posted signs up at the station saying that the city was now “Jew free”.

I’m conscious that I’ve posted about this before, but this yellow sheet showing departures is ubiquitous across mainland Europe, with a white sheet for arrivals. The UK are still a country mile behind in this regard, the signage in British railway stations is nearly always lacking and it’s generally impossible to see a list of destinations for any specific train unless it’s just about to leave. Most countries also know what platform the train will be going from as well, to make matters much easier. Quite why simple measures like this haven’t been introduced in the UK, I’m not entirely sure.

The inside of the ticket office, another quite plain interior, which is quite a common situation in Polish railway stations. At this time I sat down with my laptop, and I’ll copy and paste what I posted on Facebook at the time:

“This is very sad, just at the railway station waiting to go back to Warsaw. There’s a little boy next to a pile of bags and I think for various reasons that he’s Ukrainian. He’s just sat near to me watching me typing on my laptop smiling at me with his bag of toys. My smile back is the best I can do here.”

There’s not much that I can add to that.

In comes the Polish intercity Nałkowska service, on time and as expected.

I had opted for first class as it was only a little more in cost than the standard ticket. I’m not actually sure what difference there was, although it felt a little quieter. It’s one of the compartment trains that I’m not hugely keen on, with four people already in the six-seat compartment when I arrived. Fortunately, the seat next to me was the one that remained free, so I could plug my devices in and have space for my laptop. It was a comfortable journey and I think it’s the first time on one of these long distance journeys that no-one checked my rail ticket.

Arriving into Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West) which is a railway station that’s currently being upgraded as part of a major new investment which will include a tram tunnel and a new bus station as part of the works. I got off here as the upgrade works mean that the incoming trains are stopping at different locations in the city to normal, and although it was meant to go to Warszawa Centralna, there was an announcement about a change with lots of people then getting off. As the train was actually going to Białystok, I decided not to risk being swept miles past Warsaw, so got off a little early just in case.

A third new metro line is being constructed this decade in the city and there were suggestions that it would go through this station, although those specific parts of the plan have been dropped from the new line. Not that I’m an expert in the transportation system of Warsaw, but I can imagine that a later extension will add this station to the network.

Currently closed off, but one of the new bridges over the upgraded rail line. I mention all this as it’s part of just how much investment continues to pour into Warsaw, with their infrastructure seemingly always improving and with positivity for the future.

I decided to walk the 40 minutes to the centre of Warsaw, it’s a pleasant perambulation. Although I come to Warsaw regularly, there always appears to be something new being constructed, with more office blocks and residential buildings popping up. There’s a feel of growth and regeneration in Warsaw that has been evident to me for years, and it shows little sign of abating.

A popular meeting area for pigeons.

I might have popped back here quickly…..

My obligatory photo of the Palace of Culture and Science as I walked by.

This isn’t a new craft beer bar, but it’s new to me and I’m unsure how I’ve managed to miss it on my previous visits. Anyway, it’s Brewski and it has around 60 taps, which is the second highest in the city, with only Piw Paw having more. For anyone interested in the menu, it’s at https://brewski-craft-beer.ontap.pl/ and there’s a marvellous selection covering all major beer styles, with some innovative and quirky options on there as well as some more mainstream choices. The service was immediate, friendly and engaging, yet another well run operation.

As an aside, I probably should have eaten here rather than KFC, but I panicked. I’ll come here again for food. Anyway, this is the Toffeecat from Browar Rockmill, a salted caramel oatmeal stout, alongside the Sweet Lady from Browar De Factor, a strawberry sour. Both very acceptable drinks, rich in flavour, and reasonably priced. There were plenty more beers that I would have liked to try, but I felt that two was sufficient on this occasion, which was quite responsible of me.

The surroundings of this craft beer bar are comfortable with a range of seating, with some booth tables as well as the higher seating which I prefer. The bar is very well reviewed, other than on TripAdvisor where it has just a single review and that’s one-star. That seems a little unfair to me, although I’d suggest it says more about the irrelevance of TripAdvisor than anything else. I understand from reviews that the music can get a little loud on weekend evenings, but during my visit during the rather more sedate period of the afternoon, there were no such raucous disturbances.There were some groups of friends chatting and a few people with their laptops, since there’s little point working from home when there’s a marvellous bar selling craft beer nearby.

Then the tram to the hotel. At the tram stop a woman and her two children asked me for help in getting to a location in the south of the city. After some Googling of where they were going, I directed them towards the appropriate tram that they needed. I’m becoming quite the public transport expert…. Although, to be fair, I have no idea if they got to where they wanted to go, but I’m fairly confident I didn’t send them off in the wrong direction. There’s probably a parallel blog out there somewhere which notes that someone gave them wrong directions….

Off goes the number 15 tram after leaving me at the Mercure Warszawa Airport (the ME of the hotel name is just visible for anyone enlarging the photo). I won’t go down the rabbit hole of writing about the need for more tram systems in the UK, but it’s a self-evident truth in my mind. It’s an easy service to use, just remembering to validate the ticket after boarding, with the fares being low.

My welcome plate of fruit and cake at the hotel, alongside my welcome drink of Żywiec Porter. I won’t write again about this hotel, as I’ve stayed here many times before. The staff kindly upgraded me to a larger room, one that I like looking out on the road, as I prefer to hear and see the city rather than be tucked away somewhere. This is one of my favourite hotels and the service is always reliable, with the rooms always feeling quiet and comfortable.

And that was my final night in Poland, perhaps for some months…..