We met Magda a few weeks ago in Warsaw and had a lot of fun. She has a great sense of humor – you can see that in her articles too!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a language student unwilling to leave the University of Warsaw where I spent the last years of my life (and am therefore planning to take up new studies soon). I enjoy working a lot, I guess I am a workaholic for that matter… For the time being, I am working in a language school, from time to time I help with translations for Amnesty International.
I enjoy traveling both at long distances and around Warsaw, one of my new hobbies is learning about Mazowsze, the areas outside Warsaw city, with its beautiful castles, palaces and parks.
When in Warsaw, I meet my friends for a coffee or some good food. I love cooking and inviting my friends to have a taste of what has just come out of the pot.
I enjoy taking photos, some of them better, some worse can be seen on my Picassa website.
Unfortunately I am not a great fan of parties of any kind, so on the website you will probably not find many clubs spotted by me.
How do you like being a Spotter?
I L-O-V-E being a Spotter!!! At the beginning I was quite shy and didn’t tell the people I want to write about their spots. Then, I opened up and started to talk to everybody I met. I expected that some of the people might be distrustful or not willing to take part. I was mistaken! Most of them were fascinated with the idea, I had some nice chats with the people, some of them gave me information about the past of the spot (for example very nice people in the Muzeum Karykatury), some of them offered their own photos (400 Rabbits).
Do you have a nice Spotters-story?
My story would probably be the story about my favourite pizza shop in Warsaw. This is a place where I used to go quite often, where I have been a guest for years. And they said “No” to my polite offer of a free advertisement on the website. I was shocked and quite sad at the beginning but then, thanks to the articles by the other Warsaw Spotters, I have discovered many other places.
Warsaw is a city of contrasts, and they are not only limited to the old and the new. In Warsaw impressive communist buildings stand next to the very old and respected ones, and next to the new skyscrapers. Each street, each entrance gate has a story to tell and it is quite easy to discover new things each time that you decide to leave home.
What is a must do when you visiting Warsaw?
A must is the Palace of Culture, a huge building in the very centre of the city. It hosts theatres, a cinema, cafes, a museum, a concert hall and many more venues, so it will definitely keep you busy for some time. It also boasts a beautiful panorama of the city from the 30th floor.
Next stops depend on your interests. For those of you fascinated with the history of Warsaw, the Warsaw Rising Museum and Cytadela will be interesting. If you want to relax – try one of many cafes recommended by the Warsaw Spotters. For those fascinated with film and theatre there are not only cinemas and theatres – in the summer time you will find many festivals all over the city (sometimes even in private flats!) and some films will be shown in the open air.
If you like art but avoid the “traditional”, museum view, try one of the following: Nowy Wspanialy Swiat, 1500m2 do wynajecia or Squat Elba.
I would rather dissuade you from doing many things in the Old Town. It is very touristy and full of kitschy “art” and souvenirs. The castle, though, and a short walk in the cobblestoned streets are a must here.
Which prejudices about Warsaw are true? Which ones are not?
As a person born in Warsaw I must say the following: it’s not true that people from Warsaw are unfriendly, unwilling to help, only think of money and are terrible drivers (this is what you will hear about us in other Polish cities).
It is true that Warsaw is one of the most expensive Polish cities but there are always ways enabling you to make your visit cheaper. You can stay in a hostel or private accommodation, eat in milk bars and not restaurants. Most of the museums offer free entrance on one of the days of the week.
It is also true that Warsaw used to be a very Eastern city. This is connected to our history and Warsaw offers a great mix of East and West now, of the Old and the New. Warsaw is developing very quickly and you will find here absolutely everything that you expect to see in any other western European city, plus a little bit more. The mix of these factors makes Warsaw a very enjoyable city full of secrets and surprises.
What do you know about Warsaw what no tourist will know?
1.Warsaw is a city developing very quickly. That’s why there are many institutions like clubs, galleries or theatres in places where you wouldn’t expect them to be, in old houses, in small streets and passages. When in Warsaw, you should stay off the main road (and definitely away the Old Town!) and keep exploring! My tip would be: start around the streets Raclawicka in Mokotów or Minska, Inzynierska or 11 Listopada in Praga.
2.It is no longer true that Praga is a “bad” and dangerous district. It is developing very quickly and in a few years’ time Praga will be a cultural centre of Warsaw. Don’t be afraid to explore it. As there are many police patrols around the district, it is safe, and some people you might see will just add local colour to the experience!
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
I have chosen some activities not far away from one another so that I don’t have to run around the city. A perfect day starts lazily in Warszawianka, the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in Warsaw where many sport activities can be enjoyed.
Then, there comes a pause for breakfast in Café Kawka where you can buy a piece of quiche, a cake, a muffin or a tart and obviously good coffee. In the late morning, if it is Monday, I would go to Luna and see some really good films for the moderate price of 8 zloty.
I would probably be hungry after that so I would move to Zlota Kurka to have a budget lunch. Next stop would be either Lazienki Park, just to sit on a bench, or Muzeum Karykatury in Kozia.
The day ends with a concert/ discussion/ film, or whatever is being played/ shown in Nowy Wspanialy Swiat.
If I am not too tired, I might end up in Klubokawiarnia or, if I feel like going through the city – in Balsam for a relaxed party with my friends.