Saturday, 17 June 2017

Warsaw – a chilled out city

Cream of asparagus soup in Kaiser, Warsaw
I woke later than usual, purely because I didn't have to get up early. A late breakfast followed (cereal, yoghurt, tea, fresh fruit) and then I checked out, leaving my luggage with the concierge. The woman on the front desk gave me an umbrella because it was raining a little bit outside. I took it and strolled out of the hotel towards the old town, past Buddha, an Indian restaurant that I've enjoyed twice in the space of three days.

The journey took no more than 20 minutes and I popped my head around a few shop doors en route, checking out an antiques shop that sold military coats and gas masks and typewritters from a bygone age. I looked at a few clothes shops for women. My route took me back up the main street in search of a decent restaurant for lunch. I had time to kill before catching my flight to London Heathrow so I figured I might as well chill out.

It's funny how wherever I go around the world everything is so samey, especially in Europe, but everywhere really. Budapest or Bucharest or Berlin or Warsaw or Amsterdam or Dusseldorf, it doesn't matter where I am in the world, there's a sameyness about it all; cities follow an established format, like countries do, so there's a bike share scheme (check); there are restaurants with umbrellas outside (check); there's an obligatory church or two (check), a main square of some description (check), a monument of some sort (check), global brands like Starbucks and Costa (check on both counts) you know what I'm saying. In fact, where the latter brands were concerned there was an abundance of Costa Coffee outlets, most of them known as Green Costa Coffee. Once I remember flying for something like 10 hours to Calgary in North Western Canada and when I got there I found a Claires Accessories. It was a very depressing moment.

Grilled chicken with vegetables at Kaiser
I'm very choosy when it comes to restaurants, but I eventually stumbled upon Kaiser at Chmielna 24, a pleasant-looking restaurant with outdoor seating and a chilled vibe generated by laid back jazz music. Despite the rain earlier on, the sun had broken through the clouds as I took a seat, having noticed something about an asparagus festival. 

Kaiser is a pleasant restaurant, not too far from the Sheraton where I have been staying since Tuesday. All is good. I've just enjoyed cream of asparagus soup and a glass of Rioja. In fact, I've just ordered another one while I await my main course of chicken with vegetables – including asparagus.

Rather annoyingly a huge dust cart is disturbing the peace. I'd been enjoying the laid back music and generally chilling, but now the music is being drowned out by a Scania P270 and it would be nice if it just drove away and left Kaiser in the chilled out state it's been used to over the past 30 minutes. But no, life isn't that simple.

The waiter just offered me a cushion to sit on and I declined his offer; you see, I'm sitting outside on a wicker chair, but it's fine. Now the dumpster has gone and my food has arrived. Life doesn't get much better than this.

The food was top notch too: perfectly grilled chicken breast with boiled potatoes, carrots and asparagus, nicely arranged on the plate. I've just ordered apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a cinnamon coffee, although it was tempting to order another glass of wine.

The sun is out, at last, and I've just weakened and ordered another glass of wine. I mean, why not? It's a beautiful day, there's a laid back jazz playing, I've had a couple of good days and I've got time to kill before my flight home. The coffee is great and the apple pie is on the way.

This is truly wonderful. Warsaw is a laid back place and it's, hold on a second, the apple pie has now arrived and, like the main course, it is well-presented. There is an ample slice of pie surrounded by fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries alongside a small dish of vanilla custard and a serving of vanilla ice cream, not forgetting strawberry coulis. It's all too much for yours truly but I'm loving every minute of it.

Apple pie with vanilla ice cream at Kaiser
In fact, if you ever find yourself in Warsaw, visit Kaiser and stay in the Sheraton Hotel too. You never know, you might bump into Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur fame. Alright, I didn't bump into him, but I did see him across the street in a Polish restaurant, sitting outside with some of his band mates. Both Blur and Gorillaz are amazing and if you've not listened to anything by Gorillaz then you're missing out.

My day got even better. After lunch I strolled back to the hotel to retrieve my suitcase and then I considered taking the train to the airport. The receptionist told me it took around half an hour and the train station was about a 10-minute walk away. There were trains, she said, at ten to the hour and twenty past, but in the end I figured it would be best to simply jump in a taxi, which I did, and on the way there I listened to Howard Jones on the radio, "I won't let the sun go down on me..." and found myself getting confused with Nik Kershaw's excellent "Wouldn't it be Nice". I'm not sure of the exact title, but it's a great track and, as I queued for the security and all the hassle of taking my laptop out of my bag, I tried to sing the song to myself, initially gettting it mixed up with the aforementioned Howard Jones track, but eventually getting there.

I wandered aimlessly around the airport killing time before the flight. I can't recall how many circuits I made of the terminal building, but it was a fair few. Having eaten a large meal I couldn't be bothered with sitting in a Costa with a Millionaire's Shortbread and a mug of tea so I just strolled about, getting increasingly bored. But my boredom turned to elation when I boarded the 1815hrs BA flight to Heathrow and discovered a virtually empty plane. I had a window seat in an Exit row and nobody in my row, so I ordered a sandwich, two of those little bottles of red wine, a paper cup full of English breakfast tea and a bottle of mineral water, all for around £13.

The flight was smooth and bathed in sunshine all the way over, and I found I was even more chilled out than when I was sitting in Kaiser eating chicken and drinking Rioja.

By the way, check out Gorillaz' Stylo by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment