Tips for guides (and visitors)

This blog was though as a medium of communication between city guides and travelers on the one hand, and guides and citizens of the city on the other. We want to show tourists a local perspective, but also present a new point of view to the locals, so they can become explorers in their own city.

Anyway, I though it’s a good idea to make a list of things we learn while guiding tours in Warsaw. These tips can be useful both for tourists as for locals who want to take a longer walk in their city.

These are my tips for today:

Stuff you have to take

1. Comfortable shoes that will keep your feet dry.

Seems obvious, but many people assume that since they aren’t going hiking they can wear shoes on heels, fancy sandals, or their old pair of sneakers. While wearing these for a trip in the mountains can be dangerous in the city it might be a bit unpleasant. Your best of with some walking shoes with a thick sole – you will be walking a lot!

2. Umbrella

Fall is often called the golden season in Poland, but I prefer to call it the wet season.

3. A map

I try to always carry one of those free maps with me, because the city can be sneaky 😉 Last time I was guiding a tour I forgot it and although I knew the way I was stressed all the time that I can’t check it to be 100% sure.

4. Hot tea!

It’s the best way to become the most popular person in the group. Take a thermos of tea with honey with you, or vodka, if you want to do it “the polish way”. It’s also a good idea to buy hot beverages in paper cups and take them with you instead of staying in warm cafes to dink them.  I know it feels sooo good when the weather is gloomy, but you will be immediately cold when you go outside.

5. Food!

If you have a nice big breakfast in your hostel or at your hosts’ flat you tend to think you will never get hungry again (or is that just me?) But believe me, if you will be walking around the city all they long you will get hungry sooner than you think. In the places popular with tourists bars are expensive and grocery stores may be hard to find. So: take a sandwich, and if you really need a store, ask a student, they always know where to find cheep food:)

What is your advice for travelers exploring cities?

What are your tips for field-trips in the city? 


Dialogue about architecture / Dialog o architekturze

……..In polish below/ Niżej po polsku…..

Me: On the left you can see Piłsudskiego Square, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the new office building designed by a famous architect, sir Norman Foster. How do you like it?

Tourist 1: Well it is absolutely hideous!

Tourist 2: It wouldn’t be that bad… if it were in a different place! Not next to the Grand Theater, for God’s sake.

Tourist 3: I would say it’s quite nice… Though it’s a pity there are only foreign offices, foreign shops inside. Nothing Polish.

Tourist 4: A foreigner built it, so a foreigner owns it.

I think I am among the few inhabitants of the city who actually really like Metropolitan Building. Anyway, I like listening to the opinions of polish tourists who visit the capital, even if they can be quite critical. If they criticize or get angry it means they are involved, they care about Warsaw, and they feel that as their capital it also belongs to them.

In the photograph a part of the Metropolitan and the back facade of the Theater.

Dialog o architekturze

Ja: Po lewej mijamy plac Piłsudskiego z Grobem Nieznanego Zołnierza i nowy budynek Metropolitan, zaprojektowany przez sir Normana Fostera. Jak się Państwu podoba?

Turystka 1: Okropny! Po prostu fatalny!

Turystka 2: Byłby całkiem dobry, ale przecież nie w tym miejscu! Tak zaraz obok Teatru Wielkiego…

Turystka 3: A mnie się on nawet podoba. Szkoda tylko, że same zagraniczne firmy w nim są, zagraniczne sklepy. Nic polskiego

Turysta 4: Cudzoziemiec wybudował, cudzoziemiec ma.

Czasami odnoszę wrażenie, że jestem jedną z nielicznych osób w Warszawie, które lubią budynek Metropolitan. Podoba mi się jego prosta bryła, granitowe żylety i nieoczywiste nawiązanie do architektury Teatru.

Lubię słuchać opinii osób, które przyjeżdżają zobaczyć Warszawę z innych miast, niezależnie od tego, czy są pochlebne czy nie. Nawet wtedy, gdy turyści coś krytykują, na jakiś element się złoszczą, w jakiś sposób mnie o cieszy. To znaczy się się angażują, że czują się z Warszawą związani. To jest ich stolica i mają prawo być dumni z tych budynków, które im się podobają (vide BUW) i krytykować te, które ich zdaniem są nieudane.