Enjoyed in Kraków, Warsaw and St. Petersburg

By Sam Hellis
This item appears on page 20 of the January 2022 issue.

My wife, Bea, and I traveled through Poland, the Baltics and Russia (St. Petersburg) with friends in September 2020, and I’d like to share a few recommendations.

First of all, we used MyDayTrip.com to hire transportation between Kraków and Warsaw, Poland, with a stop to explore the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, and then between Warsaw and Gdańsk, with a stop at Malbork Castle en route.

Fortunately, we had the same driver each time. He spoke English and was most congenial, informative and flexible. He drove a very clean, comfortable minivan that easily accommodated the four of us.

The door-to-door service was exceptionally convenient, and, with four, the per-person cost of our transfers was comparable to that by train or plane. It also allowed us to enjoy more of the countryside. We will definitely use MyDayTrip to travel between cities on future trips. 

In Kraków, Bea and I booked the “Vodka Tour” (currently about $80 per person) with Eat Polska (Eatpolska.com), which runs similar tours in other Polish cities. It turned out that we were the only ones on the tour that night.

Our guide, a young, intelligent and interesting college student who spoke fluent English, took us to five restaurants/bars for vodka tasting. Paired with the vodka each time were small servings of traditional dishes which, in total, served as a meal for the night. The tour was good value in terms of the information, the amount of vodka and food offered, and just sheer fun. We would do it again.

There were two restaurants on this trip that we recommend. I don’t recall the costs, but, for the most part, we do not eat expensively on our travels, and I remember thinking the meals were of good value, considering the quality, service and friendly ambiance.

In Warsaw, we visited Bibenda (Nowogrodzka 10, Warszawa; phone +48 502 770 303, www.bibenda.pl [in Polish only]), a delightful, modest restaurant a few blocks from the Chopin Boutique B&B (Smolna 14, Warszawa; bbwarsaw.com/en), where we stayed. 

The staff was young and most accommodating, and the food was absolutely delicious and innovative both times we ate there. The dishes were, for the most part, modern versions of traditional Polish cuisine.

Finally, at the recommendation of a young friend and in the center of St. Petersburg, we ate at Mechtateli, or “The Dreamers’ Café” (Fontanka River Embankment 11; phone +7 921 761 31 55, https://thedreamerscafe.ru/en), going back a second time.

It was a gastronomic delight, with delicious, innovative cuisine, lots of small plates, a great wine list and an engaging young staff.

Lakewood, WA