Europe has always been high up on my travel list and this year I was lucky enough to finally plan a trip across the pond! I thought a trip like this would be years down the line for me but when one of my closest cousins, Alyssa, said that she would be having her wedding in Warsaw–where she lived with her husband Michal–I knew I couldn’t miss out!
Back in January I came across a sweet deal for flights so I couldn’t say no to finally making my dream to go to Europe a reality. With a round trip to Warsaw, this lovely city became home base for the next 12 days. I arrived just before Alyssa’s wedding and whatever down time I had was spent exploring the city, catching up with friends and cousins over delicious pirogies–or dumplings as they simply call it–and drinks, oh so many drinks! We really lucked out in having apartments that were actually in Old Town Warsaw and absolutely have Alyssa to thank for locking down the accommodation because we really couldn’t have been in a more central part of the city. Being three floors up and having the windows open in our charming little apartment we were constantly listening in on the hustle and bustle of tourists below and sounds of the accordion and violin always filled our temporary home, it was lovely. We were within walking distance of practically everything, restaurants, malls, bars, markets, and even the very church Alyssa and Michal would get married in, literally could not ask for better location!
Fun little side note, the day my family and I arrived happened to be the same day that good ol’ Donald Trump was making a speech in Warsaw, riiight outside the area we were staying in so it was on lock down from the evening before. The whole thing put a slight bump in Alyssa and Michal’s plans to drop us all off at our apartments–had to sit tight in my uncle and aunt’s place which was located down the block from where the speech was being held and once it started we could hear what he was saying as clear as day. Although we weren’t able to open the windows and watch the big screen as police officers down on the street informed us to keep them closed. It was chaos we didn’t ask for but definitely an experience as I never thought in my life I would end up in such close proximity to Donald Trump, ugh.
Anywho! The wedding itself was the main event for me in Warsaw and I can easily say that it was one for the books! I still can’t get over how beautiful St. Anne’s Church was for one thing and of course, getting to see my cousin say “I do”? I mean I don’t even have the words, I’m just so happy I was able to make the trip over to be there and celebrate their big day! And obviously a wedding in Poland was not without Polish traditions! Things that were different to other weddings I had been to included the receiving line to congratulate the couple and give your gift was done immediately after the ceremony outside the church, a welcoming before the reception consisting of salt- to remind the couple of life’s difficulties, bread-so they may never know hunger, and water or vodka where they each pick one not knowing what it is initially and it’s suggested that the partner who gets the vodka will be the dominant one in the relationship— all of this kickedoff an eleven hour long reception. Yes, I said eleven hours. Starting around 5 pm, we did not leave the hall until 4:30 am the next day, how’s that for a party?! Eleven hours filled with good company, vodka, five courses of food spread out throughout the night, moonshine, dancing, more vodka, cake, more dancing, more moonshine, lots of pictures and a whole lot more drinks as well, it was sooo much funnnn!!! We walked out of the hall with the sun rising as we made our way to the last organized shuttle taking us back to the city. By the time we got to our apartment it was just about 5 am and as tired as I was it was the perfect time for a photo op of our lovely area because there were no tourists around!! The streets were empty and it was the beginnings of a beautiful day in Warsaw even though we were ready to say goodnight! But I busted out my camera and took as many photos as I could on our walk to the apartment.
Needless to say the day after the wedding was a one off for everyone seeing as it ended so late, or early? But it was a good rest day to gear up for the rest of our trip, or what kind of felt like the beginning of our trip as we went off to Krakow the following day. I don’t even think I was in Krakow for 24 hours but their Old Town was absolutely beautiful! Bigger than Warsaw’s as Krakow was the original capital of Poland so it’s a much older city than Warsaw and it’s full of old medieval buildings–it was definitely here where I had a “pinch me” moment and I couldn’t believe I was actually in Europe and so far away from home!!
I really enjoyed this day in particular because it was basically the first day I got to spend with Alyssa and Michal, and her little bro Raymond, after all the wedding madness! We walked around Old Town, had the biggest burger I’ve ever had in my life, took in some live jazz music at a bar, had a small moonshine tasting and walked around the beauuuutiful Wawal Castle–an actual European castle!! Unfortunately it was closed that day so we weren’t able to tour the inside but in all seriousness all I’ve ever wanted is to visit castles in Europe and finally I was walking around one and freaking out internally. AND there was even a legend that a dragon lived there too! So obviously all I could think about was season premiere of Game of Thrones, which was then just days away and my excitement was now through the roof for so many reasons.
That pretty much concluded my time in Poland. Our very last night of the trip was spent in Warsaw, and that happened to be my 26th birthday but it was also a travel day so it was very long, the exhaustion from the past week was finally setting in but I got to shop, I got to have dinner with my family, in Europe no less, and I was feeling extremely thankful that day. I’ve got nothing but amazing memories of being in Poland and I have to say a lot of that is thanks to all the planning Alyssa did. How she planned a wedding AND played travel agent to all her guests, I will never understand but I’m forever grateful to her and Michal for making my first stop in Europe so pleasant!! What came next was beyond anything I could have dreamed of, and I can’t wait to share stories of my time in London and Paris. Even as I type that out, I still can’t believe I went there! Check back tomorrow for the low down on my time in London!