This summer has been Scoorge-stingy with dispensing sunshine and warmth. Should the sun suddenly show up, do the carpe diem thing and eat out. Below are some picnic strategies I wrote for the current issue of Warsaw Insider.
Picnics in the City
Whether your basket is a case of sandwiches for two or a cornucopia of grub for a crowd, here’s three green (and sandy) patches for alfresco noshing.
Before stocking up your picnic hamper, you need to know your limits. Washing down the cold roast chicken with sauvignon blanc might lift your spirits, but “drink and picnic” in public spaces is a no-no. Tippling in parks is forbidden and could attract unwanted finger-wagging (and fines) from the City Guards. So, weed the alcohols out from your carry-on’s. If you’re eyeing the picturesque Łazienki Park as the place to roll out the blanket, you can file that thought under “forget it”. The grass of the former royal hunting grounds is off limits for feet and bottoms. Don’t fret; the other parks, and the city has loads of them, are not such straitlaced fusspots.
Previously overlooked, Skaryszewski Park on the right bank of Warsaw has gradually been enjoying more limelight. Blue blooded it isn’t but it’s speckled with historical nuggets. Most importantly, it’s free from park personnel on a lookout to expel your party from the grass. Get there early before the choice spots are annexed off by like-minded outdoors eaters. For sweets, instead of lugging them from elsewhere, try those from Misianka. In a former life, the building was a public toilet. In its current lease, the cakes within are highly recommended by the Use-It Maps creators.
If you deem park scenes to be too routine, would a sandy beach be more to your taste? The city is keen for you and your pals to gentrify the riverbanks with your presence. To that end, they have created several recreational sandy stretches along the Vistula River. Next to the H2O Big Buddha Beach (at the crossing of Wał Miedzeszyński and ul. Zwycięców in Saska Kępa) is one such beach-park. Mind you, Ibiza it definitely isn’t. Quite the contrary, it feels strangely rural even with the Palace of Culture as the backdrop. Other than sand, the city has also thrown in canvas chaise longues, a BBQ pit, and poles for setting up a volleyball pitch. All these are gratis and available to the pioneering participants on a first come, first served basis. The BBQ pit, though, is communal. The early birds get the flame going and the latecomers simply top it up with firewood that’s nicely stacked up on the side and FOC, too. The grill has probably never had a proper scrub, so bring your own disposal aluminium trays if you’re planning to toast sausages and other comestibles. To look pro, like we did, haul along a collapsible table. While the beach is a valiant effort of the city to improve quality of life in the city, the river’s water quality is a clean-up-in-progress. Do stay a healthy distance from the river since close-up’s of the water is not a pretty sight.
Powsin Park, located south of the city centre, is worth the excursion for multi-family parties in need of plenty of elbowroom. As you wander away from the park’s main activities hub (which includes a swimming pool), you will find shady woods to set up your buffet station. Bring along a football or badminton gear, and you’re all set for friendly matches. There is also a rope park for kids and adults keen on elevated obstacle courses. Their prices are steep but the guides are the attentive in guiding the little ones from start to end. Elsewhere in the park, it’s quite insect-free, but at the rope park, bugs were more gung-ho, so do have mossie repellent handy.