Ewa Olszewska

  • Secret bartender
  • bon vivant
  • J.K. Rowling fan

Born in Poland and raised in Sweden, Ewa has two hearts beating in her chest.

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My 24 Hours in Warsaw

I really like to go out to have breakfast. A lot of people in Warsaw do, too, and there are many good options around. I alternate between the outdoor garden at Flaming&Co, Bazar Kocha, Bulke przez Bibulke and Byc Moze as they are all within walking distance from my apartment. Once I get my omelet and can sit down and just flip through the pages of some magazines I really feel the weekend has begun. After learning what kind of mascara I absolutely need in my makeup bag, I realize I’ll have time to catch the free Chopin concert in the Lazienki Park. To me, this is the essence of Warsaw: ignoring the signs, crowds gather at the lawn in front of the famous Chopin statue to listen to various pianists performing his work. It’s magical.

A few years back, as part of the 200th Anniversary of Chopin’s birthday, the city opened a new walking route which guides visitors through Chopin’s Warsaw with multimedia benches. It’s a nice homage and a pleasant pastime.

I have the music still ringing in my ears as I walk around the park for a bit. No matter the season, it is a beautiful place to take a deep breath and I love that peacocks are running freely around the Lazienki Palace. Also called the “Palace on the Water,” it was once the summer residence of King Stanislaw II Augustus and today it is a museum. I chill in one of the deck chairs close to the New Orangerie and watch the children who can’t decide whether to chase peacocks or squirrels.

Suddenly I think about checking out the news at my favorite wine store, Ale Wino. The wine drinking culture in Poland is still very much developing and this is one of the few places where the staff is really skilled. I always walk in determined to just look and usually walk out with at least three bottles.

On my way there, I stop by my favorite store-café combo Kyosk, where the owner brings back pieces she picks up during her travels. Even when I don’t buy anything, I love coming here for inspiration. Since I am at Koszykowa St. I pop into Kyosk’s neighboring stores (Wonders is another favorite) for both international and local fashion. The boutiques continue all the way up Mokotowska St. which is home to great Polish designers such as BohoBoco and Robert Kupisz. In the same street, there is Między Ustami, a place I like a lot for a casual lunch or drinks in the evening. 

AleWino has received a batch of my all-time favorite red wine, so of course I buy some bottles and ask the ladies to put them on hold for me as they are too heavy to carry around. I then head to Mokobelle, where I get a lot of my jewelry.

Mokobelle started their business the same year I moved to Warsaw so one can say we grew up together. The pieces are beautiful and I always find something I “need.” I really like Mokotowska and the surrounding areas, not only for the great shopping but also for the architecture. The street is home to some beautiful restored old buildings and gives you an idea of what Warsaw looked like before it was destroyed in the Second World War. Having been rebuilt, the city is an eclectic mix of modern skyscrapers, the housing projects of the 50s and pre-war modernism, so it’s hard to say it’s pretty. But the soul of Warsaw lies within these old buildings and, having being renovated, they finally get the attention they deserve.

I continue to stroll over to another jewelry favorite, Minty Dot, and past the restaurant/bar Concept 13, which has probably one of the best views of Warsaw. A friend calls because she has run out of ideas of where to send some of her visitors to. They’ve just been to the panorama terrace of the Palace of Culture  and so I send them to the Warsaw Rising Museum and then to the Copernicus Science Center for some more cheerful entertainment.

We then make plans to meet up for an outdoor movie at Saska Kepa later and I carry on walking to see the newly opened Vistula boulevards. The river has been such an unused space on the city’s urban map and now more and more investors are beginning to see its potential. The boulevards and numerous beach clubs here are just a few good examples of this.

I duck into Foksal St. to avoid the worst crowds of people and take a shortcut to Café Stor. I drink a Sandra (ice coffee) and take a break at one of their outdoor benches as a famous Polish director is interviewed for a magazine inside. I try to eavesdrop, but to no avail, and so I continue on to the boulevards.

It’s a beautiful and much needed space on the map of Warsaw. People jogging, strolling, riding their bikes and their longboards. The banks of Vistula have been unused for so long and are now becoming a canvas for talented architects, much to the gratitude of the inhabitants. I am really impressed and proud to see how the city is changing and developing, but the heat is starting to get to me and I call for an Uber to take me home. On the way I ask the driver to stop by Blikle to buy an éclair as a pre-dinner snack and call my friend to convince her we should ditch the movie in favor of dinner. We haven’t been to Warszawa Wschodnia in a while and since it’s close to her apartment we decide to meet there.

Praga, the part of Warsaw where the restaurant is located, has an undeservedly bad reputation. True, some areas of old Warsaw are still not the safest places to be walking around, especially during nighttime, but if you want to feel the vibe beyond what traditional tour guides have to offer I’d recommend a visit. You can run along bazaars, old school craftsman shops and the by now infamous milk bars where you can have lunch for 10 pln. Also the rundown backyards with the very well-maintained shrines (an homage to the country’s strong religious devotion) are some of the most original impressions you can take back home.

We pass some shrines on our way to the restaurant and its location could hardly be a more literal depiction of “old meets new.” Suddenly the old houses stop and are replaced by brand new residential areas and SohoFactory, where Warszawa Wschodnia is located. Our seats have a good view of the kitchen and the owner Mateusz Gessler comes over to say hello and asks if we want dinner, wine or shots of ice-cold vodka. The latter is accompanied by a perfectly seasoned steak tartare, followed by wine and tournedos and we sit for a few hours, immersed in good conversation. When my friend makes a not-too-discrete comment about the plastic surgery of the actress that has just walked in, we decide it’s time to go.

We head back to our side of the river for an after-dinner glass of prosecco at Cuda na Kiju, situated in the old communist party’s headquarters. It is packed with people so we park ourselves on the ground and listen to the sounds of the big city while striking up fun conversations with strangers. As the night progresses, everybody is talking to everybody else, no matter who they came with. Everyone seems to be friends from the get-go, which is something I just love! Our new friends want to go to Pawilony for an after-party but we head to Plac Zbawiciela, which despite the late hour is ubercrowded. We organize a little impromptu dance party outside Plan B and are stared down by the hipsters. As I walk home I figure I’ll buy some cookies from LaVanille tomorrow. And pick up the wine, which is still at the store.

Locations



Flaming&CoFryderyka Chopina 5, Warschau, Polen

Nice place for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in-between. In the summer, they extend the restaurant out into a lovely garden. The interior is clearly influenced by the Hamptons and the menu includes staples like pizza, steaks, burgers, soups and salads. This is where the posh Warsaw crowd hangs out.
Bazar KochaMokotowska 33, Warschau, Polen

Has been described as a small Berlin in the heart of Warsaw. Nice bistro and deli with organic, homemade products. After you are done with the meal you can buy the homemade meringue or jams to go. Serves breakfast throughout dinner.
Bulke przez BibulkeZgoda 3, Warschau, Polen

Great place for breakfast! The American pancakes and Eggs Benedict are especially good. Cozy, communal tables and bare brick walls. Has several locations.
Byc MozeBagatela 14, Warschau, Polen

Situated in the same street as the Swedish embassy, so my work meeting place. Very nice bistro, somewhat off the beaten path, with a small but enjoyable menu, mostly sandwiches, soups and omelets. Good coffee.
Lazienki ParkŁazienki Park, Warschau, Polen

Beautiful big park consisting of three differently styled gardens, hosting several museums, restaurants and cafés. The Fryderyk Chopin monument is located in the Modernist Garden and is the most well-known Polish sculpture in the world. The deck chair area is situated near the New Orangery. For information about the Chopin concerts visit http://tifc.chopin.pl/index.php?DOC=koncerty_lazienki_wwa
Palace on the WaterPalace on the Isle, Warschau, Polen

The summer residence of King Stanisław August. Modeled on Italian architectural structures, such as the Villa Borghese, it was intended to symbolize the dream of an ideal, modern and sovereign state. Today the museum displays works of art from the King’s vast personal collection. The beautiful interiors are well worth a visit. Tickets can be bought on site.
KyoskKoszykowa 1, Warschau, Polen

A large space housing a store and a coffee shop. The owner travels around the world and brings back pieces she likes. Good mix of Scandinavian, Italian and French fashion. Sells everything from clothes, accessories, bags and shoes to underwear.
MokobelleMokotowska 54, Warschau, Polen

The two women that own the place left their corporate careers and wholeheartedly invested in their passion. Their pieces are beautiful, they mostly sell their own design and one can find everything from dainty bracelets to statement earrings and cuffs.
Minty DotBracka 5, Warschau, Polen

Beautiful jewelry store which carries mostly dainty gold and silver jewelry, of their own design. A little pricey but the pieces are marvelous.
Palace of Cultureplac Defilad 1, Warschau, Polen

In 2015 the Palace turned 60 years old. Probably the most renowned landmark in all of Poland, gifted to the country by the Soviet Union. Hosts several theaters, museums, event venues, a cinema and a pool. The observation deck is worth going up to for a 360° view of Warsaw.
Warsaw Uprising MuseumGrzybowska 79, Warschau, Polen

The Warsaw Uprising is such a big part of Polish history and in the city of Warsaw in particular it would be difficult to omit. The museum opened on the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and depicts the fighting and everyday life during the uprising in 1944 with photographs, films and sound recordings. On the anniversary of the uprising, August 1, at 17 o’clock each year, the whole city stops to the sounds of sirens that mark the beginning of the rising, paying tribute to the fallen.
Copernicus Science CentreWybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 20, Warschau, Polen

This place entertains old and young alike: an interactive museum, a planetarium, a rooftop garden, a cinema, a concert venue and conference center all in one. Always has a fun exhibition going on. Try buying tickets in advance if possible, as queues here are always long.
VitkacBracka 9, Warschau, Polen

Big warehouse housing high-end fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, YSL and Gucci. The café/bar/restaurant Concept 13 at the top floors is worth a visit, especially for the view of Warsaw. Food is good, a bit on the pricey side.
Café StorTamka 33, Warschau, Polen

Probably the best coffee place in Warsaw right now. Small and a little out-of-the-way, but will be crowded nonetheless. Expect delicious coffee and homemade sandwiches and cakes. You can buy coffee, tea and their own cups to bring home. Make sure to try the Sandra when it’s hot outside!
Vistula Boulevardsmost Śląsko-Dąbrowski, Warschau, Polen

An urban space designed to give inhabitants of Warsaw a space to relax, take a walk and just take in the city. Newly opened, it’s a part of a bigger project aiming to revitalize the yet unused lands around the Vistula on both banks.
A.BlikleNowy Świat 35, Warschau, Polen

The oldest, most well-known patisserie in Warsaw, established in 1869. Since then, they have been providing Varsowians with the best doughnuts and éclairs. But really, pick any of the mouthwatering cakes - you will love everything and you will want to come back!
Warszawa Wschodnia by Mateusz GesslerMińska 25, Warschau, Polen

Very cool space in the middle of the Soho Factory serving Polish cuisine in an updated form. Run by a family of well-known restaurateurs. Worth booking a table in advance to be able to sit next to the open kitchen, where you see the chefs prepare your meal. You absolutely must try the steak tartare.
Cuda na KijuNowy Świat 6/12, Warschau, Polen

My favorite bar located in the old HQ of the communist party. Order some cheap but great prosecco and observe the Warsaw nightlife. You can either sit inside, or (much better) on the huge patio. If you get hungry, order one of their delicious pizzas.
Pawilony Nowy SwiatNowy Świat 22/28

This is a real nightlife institution in Warsaw. Just follow the crowds through the archway and discover a maze of small, one of a kind, bars, clubs and of course fast food joints. This is the kingdom of beer, vodka shots and French fries. Cash is king here. Not to be missed.
Plac Zbawicielaplac Zbawiciela, Warschau, Polen

This is the prime hipster hangout but also one of the best places to experience Warsaw’s nightlife. Many small cafés, restaurants and bars vie for the guests’ attention and it’s always crowded. Also home to the (by now iconic) art installation which is simply called the Rainbow. Supposed to be an apolitical symbol, Catholic and far-right nationalists have identified it as a LGBT symbol and it has been vandalized several times. I would avoid Charlotte if you want a pleasant experience, everything else is a go.
La VanilleKrucza 16/22, Warschau, Polen

If you have a sweet tooth this is the place to go. In recent years, Warsaw has found itself in the middle of a cupcake craze and this is one of the best places. Try the red velvet or the crunchy cookies with homemade marmalade. Fair warning, they look so good, you don’t know whether to eat or photograph them.
WondersMokotowska 26, Warschau, Polen

Stylish store, very fashionable clothes and shoes.
BohoBocoMokotowska 71, Warschau, Polen

Classic and chic women’s clothes. The two young designers only started their label in 2009 but are already quite well-known.
Robert KupiszMokotowska 48 /204, Warschau, Polen

Funky, sexy and just so damn cool!
Maciej ZienMokotowska 57, Warschau, Polen

Another boutique belonging a talented Polish designer who really understands how to draw attention to the female body with his great dresses.
Concept 13Bracka 9, Warschau, Polen

The café/bar/restaurant Concept 13 at the top floors is worth a visit, especially for the view of Warsaw. Food is good, although a bit on the pricey side.
Saska KepaSaska Kępa, Warschau, Polen

A neighborhood which is not only home to one of Warsaw’s largest urban parks, the Park Skaryszewski, but also to a lot of artists, actors and nouveau riche community in general.
Plan Baleja Wyzwolenia 18, Warschau, Polen

The place where the cool kids go to party.
Między UstamiMokotowska 57 Warsaw

I like to come here for enjoying a casual lunch or fancy drinks in the evening.
Ale WinoMokotowska 46A, Warszawa, Polen

Wine shop, wine bar and restaurant in one. Hidden in a backyard so careful you don’t miss it! The staff is very skilled and always has really good recommendations.
‘A friend once joked 'better crazy than lazy.' She has a point, enjoy life and cut the crap.’
  • There’s great breakfast to be had in the outdoor garden at Flamingo&Co. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Bazar Kocha offers nice breakfast, too, and you can buy some of their lovely jam as a souvenir. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Gorge on delicious sandwiches, soups and omelets at BYE moze. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Make sure to catch one of the free Chopin concerts at Lazienki Park. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Ale Wino is my favourite wine store. I come here quite often... © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Get your hands on some cool fashion at the Wonders store. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Mokobelle is where I shop for beautiful jewelry. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Enjoy lunch with a great view of Warsaw at the restaurant Concept 13. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • The Plac Zbawieciela gets pretty packed in the evenings. Still, it’s great fun coming here! © Veronica Ilchenko
  • The most famous patisserie in Warsaw: Blikle. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • At Pawilony Nowy Swiat the party gets started! © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Pop in for drinks at Plan B and meet the cool kids of Warsaw. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • La Vanille is my personal cupcake heaven. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Lazienki Park is a true oasis in which to enjoy nature and calm inside the city. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Cuda is great for having pre-dinner drinks! © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Check out the jewelry at Minty Dot. © Veronica Ilchenko
  • Have more lovely drinks at Między Ustami! © Veronica Ilchenko

My thoughts about Warsaw

What do you love about your destination?

Warsaw has transformed a great deal during the last five years I’ve been living here and has become a living, breathing, pulsating city which I miss when I am not here. It’s most definitely not like other European cities and has much more to offer than you might expect at first sight. What it lacks in looks it makes up for in other fields.

Which music fits best to your destination?

Chopin of course! Natalia Przybysz. And the swallows that always accompany the Warsaw dusk.

© Veronica Ilchenko
© Veronica Ilchenko
Indulge in great, modern Polish cuisine at the restaurant Warszawa Wschodnia. © Veronica Ilchenko
Inside the department store Vitkac you’ll find the great restaurant Concept 13. © Veronica Ilchenko
La Vanille, my love. © Veronica Ilchenko
Meet the family!
The Palace of Culture and Science has a great panorama terrace. © Veronica Ilchenko

Take a vacation into My life

What’s your background?

Born in Poland, raised in Sweden, NYC mindset.

What is the best moment of the day?

Evening/cocktail hour.

What inspires you?

The four strong women I consider my best friends. People who turn their passions into something real. My parents.

How would a good friend describe you?

Independent, intelligent, funny, charming, loud, bon vivant, wine lover, open to new experiences.

Your lifestyle in 5 words?

Different than a year ago.

Which books, newspapers or magazines do you read?

Books: currently the Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling), actually anything by J.K. Rowling, Donna Tartt, "The Little Friend and A Personal History, a Bio" by Katharine Graham. I don’t discriminate any genres and I’ll read anything that strikes me as interesting.
Newspapers & mags: the dailies, the leisure section of the FT, The New Yorker, and some fashion magazines.

Which films blow your mind?

Series: House of Cards is my absolute favorite. Mad Men during the good seasons. And Friends, always Friends.
Films: the “Before…” trilogy by Linklater, Boyhood, Lost in Translation, Station Agent, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Begin Again, Once, A Single Man, the Grand Budapest Hotel... to name a few.

Person you’d like to sit next to in an airplane?

Hmmm… tough one. Currently I would love to chat up J.K. Rowling but if Ryszard Kapuscinski was still alive, that would be a real treat.

What are your favourite destinations around the globe?

NYC, Istanbul, Amsterdam, London, Venice, Vienna, Hamburg, Warsaw, San Francisco.

Your life philosophy?

A friend once joked "better crazy than lazy." She has a point—enjoy life and cut the crap.

Suitcase, Backpack or Weekender?

Mostly weekender.

What else should we know about you?

I turn into a hobby bartender after dusk. Being the author of a published book is on my bucket list. I recently got that second piercing I always wanted. I do NOT share food. I love my freckles. I’ll never think Pink Floyd is the best band in the world. I would love to have a great singing voice.

Travelling is…

something I long for when I’m not doing it.

Life is…

currently a bit up in the air.

Photos by Veronika Ilchenko, https://www.instagram.com/godsend_v

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