It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Museum Review : Warsaw Uprising Museum, Warsaw, Poland

We spent several hours at the fascinating (and heart breaking) Warsaw Uprising Museum, located in the Wola district of Warsaw.  I'd heard of the Uprising, but am ashamed to say that I didn't actually know that much about it.  I was astonished and humbled by the bravery of these regular citizens, who in their fifth year of German occupation, decided to "rise up" against the Nazis.

For 63 days from 1st August 1944 at 5.00pm (known as "W-hour"), around 40,000 Warsaw citizens, who only had enough weapons for 2,500 people, made a stand against the Nazi occupation.  They initially believe that their uprising would only last about a week, and were unaware that the Germans had decided to defend Warsaw and to counter-attack Red Army forces to the east of the city.  They bravely continued to fight, and die, whilst facing a force of around 30,000, armed with tanks, planes and artillery.

Around 15,200 insurgents were killed, 5,000 wounded and, after their eventual surrender, 15,000 were sent to POW camps.  Amongst ordinary Warsaw civilians, around 200,000 were dead, 700,000 were expelled from the city, and 55,000 were sent to concentration camps.  94% of historic Warsaw was razed to the ground and almost 1,000,000 inhabitants lost all of their possessions.

The Uprising Museum was opened in 2004 and occupies a huge space.  It's been set up really well, and you can buy an audio tour which translates the information into English.  The museum runs over several levels, with a bullet riddled iron core rising through the levels.  You can put your ear to the bullet holes and hear battles taking place, and the core "breathes" (hard to explain, you need to experience it) to keep reminding you that these were real people, just like you and me, who were just trying to survive in absolutely terrible conditions.

There are some sections containing footage and information on the concentration camps, but they are clearly marked and you have to make an effort to view them - you don't stumble upon such horrible images without warning.  You can spend a few hours here without a problem, and there is a small cafe should you feel peckish.

Entry fees are very reasonable, at 14PLN for adults and 10PLN for the audio guide (you must leave a photo ID for each audio guide hired, but we didn't have any on us, so they took our hotel room keys instead).

Go to this incredible museum, read and learn more about these astonishingly courageous people, and ask yourself "Would I have been brave enough to stand up and fight in the face of such dwindling odds?".  I'm not sure I would have been.

Warsaw Uprising Museum
ul. Grzybowska 79
00-844 Warsaw
Phone:- +48 22 539 79 05

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Museum Review : Chopin Museum, Warsaw, Poland

The Chopin Museum in Warsaw is fascinating, and incredibly well put together.  It charts the life of Fryderyk Chopin, a child prodigy, who was born in 1810 in Warsaw.  We are not huge classical music buffs, but this museum was really interesting and very technologically advanced.

Chopin grew up in Warsaw and completed his musical education there.  He composed many of his works there before leaving Poland at the age of 20 to settle in Paris.  During the remaining 18 years of his life he gave only around 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon.  He supported himself by selling his compositions and as a sought-after piano teacher.

All of Chopin's compositions include piano, and his highly individual and technically demanding keyboard style were noted for their nuance and sensitivity.  His major piano works include sonatas, mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, etudes, impromptus, sherzos and preludes - many of which were only published after his death.

He had a decade long troubled relationship with the French writer, George Sand, and after suffering from poor health for most of his life, died in Paris in 1849.

As with most things in Warsaw, the Museum is very reasonably priced, with adult tickets at 22PLN and the audio guide is included in your ticket price.  Your ticket is a credit card type that you hold up to the exhibits and it changes the language into English - very impressive.

Chopin Museum
Okolnik 1
Warsaw, Poland

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Recipe : Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta

I stole this photo from their website too - bad!

I found this fab and easy recipe on one of my new favourite blogs, www.domesticsl* (the home and lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do) - and, yes, I have put a "*" where the "u" would be to wind back the NSFW of the name.  And for those of you that think I've gone off the rails putting "rude sex stuff" (I so did not!) on my blog, here's what the writers of the blog have to say about themselves:-

The Domestic Sluts like their ordinary things to be extraordinary. We want our homes to look good, we want damn tasty food and we want our outfits to be unusual. But we're busy and we enjoy being a little bit lazy. We'd much rather go out dancing than tidying up. Frankly, a five course meal sounds like far too much effort and our idea of 'decorating' is to hide a spaghetti stain on the sofa with a nice cushion. If you think we're going to spend hours in a shopping centre, you're mistaken. We're probably tipsy. Or napping. We do like a nap.

We're a UK-based blog, with male and female writers across the country (all with our own tastes and opinions) discovering the best in design, fashion, food and travel. We don't for a minute think that cupcakes can save the world, but cake will always make you smile on a rubbish day. We'll never tell you about a faceless hotel chain, we want our adventures a little more interesting than that.

We basically want to cheat our way to the good stuff and ignore the crap bits of life for a while. You should come exploring with us.

So, you can all relax now and get cooking on this really yummy pasta.  I know I normally only post recipes for cakes (because, who doesn't love cake?), but I think everyone likes to throw an easy new dinner recipe into rotation, and this one rocks.  My notes, as usual, in italics:-

Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta (serves 2)

  • 150g pasta, any shape you like (I don't think 150g is enough for two people, and I used 250g of pasta shaped like little horses that I found in the back of my pantry - not sure how old it is, but pasta doesn't really go off, does it?)
  • one small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (I used more, because we LOVE garlic)
  • 240g smoked salmon trimmings (I used a 200gm pack from the supermarket.  They didn't have "trimmings", so this was proper smoked salmon, but it was still less than €3/pack)
  • Glug of white wine/gin/whisky (I used gin, and probably more than a "slug" because I spilled it all over the stove top whilst being generous)
  • Squeeze of lemon, optional (I used the juice of a whole lemon that I found in the bottom of the crisper - tasted fab!)
  • Pinch of smoked paprika, optional
  • 200ml sour cream (I used low fat, because I couldn't find any other kind in the supermarket)
  • Lots of black pepper

  1. Get a pan of salted water boiling for the pasta - if you're using dried then pop it in at the beginning (once the water is boiling, natch), if you've got fresh pasta then hold off to the last few minutes to cook it.
  2. Saute the onions over a medium heat in some oil (you can add a knob of butter for a little extra flavour if you like) for about 6 minutes before adding garlic.  Cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Throw in the salmon (I chopped mine up a bit first because it was in fillet form) and stir so it starts to get cooked through.
  4. Once half of the salmon has turned white, pop in your glut of desired alcohol and let it reduce for a few minutes, adding the lemon juice and paprika if using.
  5. When the liquid has reduced, add the sour cream and raise the heat slightly so the sauce begins to bubble a little.
  6. Keep string constantly for about 5-8 minutes and take off the heat.  (I didn't stir constantly, I was trying to get the spilled gin off the stove elements - the waste!).
  7. Drain your cooked pasta and put it back int the saucepan.
  8. Pour the creamy salmon sauce over the top and mix thoroughly so every bit of pasta gets coated.  (I tipped the pasta into the sauce instead of the other way around - rebel!)
  9. Throw in a load of black pepper and give it one last mix - and you're done!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Restaurant Review : Rozana, Warsaw, Poland

I made a booking at Rozana after researching on and we enjoyed it.  The food is good, and it's certainly well priced, but it wasn't a patch on Dom Polski which we visited with friends the next day.

The restaurant seems to be located in a residential area, in a big old house.  It's very chintzy and there's lots of ornaments and pictures scattered about.  The staff were very good and friendly, and there's a pianist in the lobby playing a selection of mazurkas and movie themes (granted, it was odd mix, but it worked).

Rozana reviews really well, the food was good and there wasn't an empty table.  The menu wasn't huge, but it was pretty comprehensive, and I started with crispy spinach and almond filled pancakes, and had roast duck with apples for main.  The roast duck tasted like wild duck to me, which I ate a lot as a child, it certainly didn't taste farmed - serving it with roast apples was a good idea, yum.

The amazing dessert trolley was wheeled over after dinner but unfortunately my stomach isn't as big as my eyes, and I couldn't fit anything in.  It did look fab though.

Staff were happy to call us a cab when they delivered our bill.  Cabs are very affordable in Warsaw, so there's no reason to bring your car.

Restauracja Polska Rozana
Chocimska 7 Street
00-791 Warsaw
Phone:- 48 22 848 12 25

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Win a Flight to Paris?

Do you live in Switzerland?
Want to win a 2 x return flights to Paris?

Air France are running a competition for 2 x return flights
from Zurich, Basel or Geneva to Paris.

All you have to do is click HERE and answer a very simple question.

Good luck!

This photo gives you the clue to the answer ...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Kitchen

I've had a few people ask me what my kitchen is like, considering I keep managing to churn out cakes on a semi regular basis, so here's a photo.

My kitchen is a dark, 80s style, galley kitchen.  You're looking at one side of the galley in the photo above.  I have very minimal bench space, and the useable bench space I have is about the width of a dinner plate, though it's quite long.  

The tiny amount of workable bench space makes cooking a bit more of a challenge.  As you can see, there's nowhere to put my mixer, except on the stove top.  For example, if I have to melt chocolate in a double boiler for a cake recipe that also requires the mixer, I have to be very delicate indeed!

I've got a total of four power sockets, so I'm guessing whoever designed the kitchen didn't do a lot of cooking.  Our fridge is actually plugged in to the dining room, because there's no socket for it in the kitchen.  My mixer is Australian, so I have to use a plug converter to plug it in, and the only socket that I can reach from the stove top is a bit wobbly, so the mixer turns itself on and off when it should be mixing.  Sometimes I have to hold the plug in with one hand whilst adding things with the other, or I don't get any mixing done at all.

Some of our other kitchen equipment is American, so I have to use a power converter as well as a plug converter for those things.  The converter takes up quite a bit of room, so I tend not to use those appliances much at all.

My kitchen is one of the reasons that I'm a huge fan of Pinterest.  As we live in a rental property, we can't change anything really, so I have to live with the kitchen we've got (and it could certainly be a lot worse, I'm not complaining too much), but I dream of one day having a perfect kitchen.

I guess we're pretty lucky that we've got a kitchen at all in our house.  Here in Germany it's very common, when you're renting a property, to have no kitchen installed.  Really.  You have to buy your own kitchen and install it yourself, and then when you leave, you take your kitchen with you.  We really didn't want to do that.  I viewed several properties before we found this one, and the kitchen is just a big empty space with the water pipes hanging out of the wall in most of them.

So, if you've got a lovely kitchen with lots of bench space and general fabulousness, you should definitely be able to make any of the recipes I put up on the blog - easy peasy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Restaurant Review : Dom Polski, Warsaw, Poland

We were taken to Dom Polski by friends in Warsaw and it didn't disappoint.  Dom Polski is in a beautiful large house located in the lovely Saska Kepa district.  The restaurant is situated in a gorgeous garden, which is available for seating in the warmer months, that said it was a freakishly warm 22c when we were there in late October and we could have comfortably sat outside.  It's got a great atmosphere, traditional yet modern, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

After perusing the good sized menu, I started with the truffled duck and cherry pierogis (Polish dumplings) and they were AMAZING!  It was my first experience of a pierogi and I will definitely try them again.  My main was roasted pork with fried cabbage and bacon, which was lovely.  The serve was very generous and I couldn't finish it.

Luckily I'd saved a tiny bit of space because the dessert trolley was astonishing.  Dessert trolleys must be a Polish thing and I'm all for it.  Their gorgeous array of desserts is wheeled over to your table and your waiter talks you through them all.  I fell madly in love with two huge meringue desserts, and our fab waiter offered to give me a small slice of each - brilliant.

Restauracja Dom Polski
ul. Francuska 11
03-906 Warzawa
Phone:- 48 226 162 432