The day was Sunday and it was my second day in Warsaw, Poland. I got out of bed ready to tackle a new city. Of course, not until after I ate. I whipped up something small to eat with what little I had sitting in my room after my little escapade to a distant supermarket the night before. I had bread, yogurt, some jam, and a bottle of water from the airport. With one less supermarket available to shop at due to my strong desire to never return back there again, I needed to find alternative places to shop and buy food at instead.
Using Google Maps, I was able to mark a few places down on my phone where I would supposedly be able to buy groceries at. One of them was the French multinational retailer: Carrefour.
It wasn’t a full-sized supermarket though. It was one of those small street corner Carrefour Express shops that carries only the most basic kitchen staples like milk, bread, coffee, and so on. From what I could see on the map, the shop was actually not far from my room. Had I known about it sooner, I probably could have saved myself quite a bit of walking the night before.
It would have to suffice. I downloaded the local map from Google onto my phone while I still had a Wi-Fi connection to minimize the risk of getting lost while venturing out into an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Inside Carrefour, I became overwhelmed by the unfamiliar selection of Polish foods. I did not yet know that Borscht (Polish Beet Soup) was a very famous dish in the country. I picked it up to analyze it more closely thinking it looked like a quick and easy lunch item. I bought it on a whim. I looked through the aisles for fruits, vegetables, bottles of drinking water just in case the tap water was not safe since I hadn’t fully researched it, as well as for some pre-made meals since I’ve never been much of a cook.
By connecting to internet inside the supermarket, I was able to use the Google Translate app to translate some of the labels and cooking directions to decide whether or not I felt I was capable of preparing any given item.
Google Translate was a serious life-saver during my trip.
While I’m half-joking, it did feel both silly and surprising because I left Carrefour with far more Indian food than Polish food. In my basket, I had Indian lentil soup, chicken tikka masala, chicken vindaloo, and some different vegetables in curry. I love Indian food so that may have been partially due to the fact that it felt like a safer choice for me. Though, I have to say Indian food was very readily available all throughout Warsaw and that was something I hadn’t expected. The supermarket also sold pierogi which I eventually bought on a subsequent visit.
I spent the rest of the day learning my surroundings.
I used Google to find restaurants nearby because by nightfall I was starving and wanted nothing more than to have a decent meal somewhere where it could be prepared for me. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find any restaurants that were open nearby! I really started to sweat the fact that I was located in the middle of nowhere when I realized just how scarce my options were. I needed to get a SIM card as soon as possible so I could start Ubering or using public transportation to expand my dining options. Sure, there were a handful of places within walking distance but nothing like what I’d experienced while in Athens and Madrid – two major cities I visited prior to Warsaw.
Surprise, surprise! The only place I could find open for dinner in the nearby area was an Indian restaurant. So even though Indian food was pretty much the only thing I already had in my mini-fridge, I walked 25 minutes away just to have a nicely cooked dish of chicken tikka masala made for me. (And yes, chicken tikka masala is ALSO the exact dish I had at home.)
Sometimes you just don’t feel like making things yourself, okay??? 😉 I know I had the same premade meal in my fridge and I literally needed to do nothing more than heat it up on the stove but I can’t explain it any other way than that I desperately wanted to eat a meal out and this was the only place I could get to on foot in a reasonable amount of time. As for the meal itself, if you’re wondering why I didn’t order something new or different just for some novelty, the answer is simply that I love chicken tikka masala and needed to know I’d at least like whatever I ordered.
Even though I chose to eat alone quite frequently throughout my four years of college and thought nothing of it, there was a certain level of discomfort that came from dining alone that night. During most of my travels, I was always eating with my boyfriend so now that I’m traveling solo again, this will be a necessary adjustment to get used to.
Honestly, I don’t know what is going on with the whole lack of supermarkets and restaurants nearby but I sure hope I can get this all sorted out ASAP. When will I get to finally try some authentic Polish food?