Tour Guide Interview
What’s your name and how old are you?
I’m Eliza, 34 years old.
Do you have kids? If so, how old are they?
No, I don’t
Where are you originally from and what city do you currently live?
I was born in a small town of Supraśl, in eastern Poland. However, I’ve lived in Warsaw for more than 15 years now and I consider Warsaw my home.
How long have you been a tour guide?
I’ve been working as a tour guide since 2013. I started this adventure by leading small group tours for an Australian company called Intrepid Travel. During 5 years on the job I covered 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. When I began missing Warsaw a few years ago, tour leading naturally evolved into city guiding as I was excited to show to visitors my home city as well. Nowadays I solely focus on Warsaw.
Why did you want to become a tour guide?
I’ve always loved meeting and talking to people. I’ve also always had great interest in history. When you combine those two factors – tour guiding is what you get! I meet new people every day and am able to share the beauty of Warsaw with them. No two days as the same!
Are you a licensed tour guide? What cities? If so, from which organization?
Since 2014, tour guiding is a licence-free profession in Poland.
Nevertheless, I have completed the Warsaw city guide course organized by PTTK (the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society – the largest such organization in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe.) I have passed the final exam and have officially been recognized by PTTK as a Warsaw tourist guide.
How many tours have you provided?
I’ve lost count… hundreds!
Let’s get to the exciting stuff. Why should anyone visit the city?
Warsaw is a truly multidimensional city full of eye-opening history. It holds much more than you can see at first sight. However, it doesn’t reveal all its charm at once and you need to pay attention to the little details. This is what I love Warsaw most for! You can read it like a good book that gets more and more interesting with every turn of a page.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
Yes, Warsaw is safe.
…In the old days though several Poles had their hearts ripped off their bodies… This was the case of Fredrick Chopin, for example. True story! He died in Paris, France and was buried there but his heart had been pulled out from his body beforehand, and brought to Warsaw!
You can feel safe though That heart was displaced at Chopin’s own wish, and only after he died You can see the box in which it is kept to this day, in one of our churches.
What’s the weather like?
We have 4 distinct seasons: In the winter temperatures can go well below freezing, it sometimes snows but snow usually doesn’t stay for long. Spring is when everything wakes up to life again, the temperatures are comfortable but it can rain quite a bit. Summers can be very hot (up to 35C or 95F) and daytime lasts the longest. In autumn temperatures drop again, we experience more rain and days get shorter too.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
Polish is the only official language in Poland.
In Warsaw you will easily find English speakers, particularly if you target younger generations. In the countryside you may struggle without some basic Polish skills.
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
The only legal tender in Poland is Polish złoty (PLN). US dollar is easily exchangeable though and exchange places are many and easy to find. Credit cards are also widely accepted.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
If you’re only visiting for a few days, the old town area and the vicinity of the Royal Route (Krakowskie Przedmieście street) are the best places. For a business stay, the modern city centre is most convenient (i.e. the vicinity of the Palace of Culture and Science).
What’re your top 3 hotels and why?
The choice would of course depend on one’s budget.
Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with Hotel Bristol – one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in Warsaw, located right in the heart of the historical city centre.
I personally like smaller, boutique hotels. I would recommend Hotel Indigo for its modern charm housed in a beautifully restored, 100+ years old building.
Also worth noting is Hotel Rialto for its art deco style furniture and interiors.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
Locals rely on public transport a lot as it’s very efficient and affordable. Uber is also very popular, and so are taxis.
Can you highlight the MUST see sight? Minimum of 5, feel free to share as many as you would like.
• The old town area (within the old city walls) as this is where Warsaw was born and where it grew from
• Palace of Culture and Science aka ‘the Soviet birthday cake’
• Krakowskie Przedmieście – the most representative street in the historical city centre
• The Neon Museum – for something unique
• A visit to a vodka shot bar – for a Polish vodka tasting experience
• The Warsaw Rising Museum and the Redoubt of the Bank of Poland for those interested in World War II history
• The Polin Museum and the former Jewish ghetto area for those interested in the Jewish heritage of Warsaw and Poland.
• Rooftop gardens of Warsaw University Library for lovely views of the city centre amidst beautifully designed colourful gardens (best in the summer time though)
What’s the best place to take a photo?
Viewing platform of the Palace of Culture and Science (30th floor).
For best photos of the old town area try the bell tower of St. Anne’s church.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
If budget restrictions aren’t relevant, I’d recommend Belvedere. It offers amazing dining experience in a beautiful location.
For Polish classics affordable to everyone – Kamanda Lwowska would be a good choice.
For affordable modern Polish cuisine go to Bibenda.
What‘s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
Pierogi – the Polish stuffed dumplings. If you haven’t tried pierogi, you haven’t properly been to Poland
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
Panorama Sky Bar on top of hotel Marriott.
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
Złote Tarasy or Arkadia malls are my favourite but there are many all around the city.
For high end shopping try the area around Three Crosses Square (Pl. Trzech Krzyży in Polish) and Vitkac mall.
For Polish designer shops check out Mokotowska street or the boutique shopping gallery at Mysia 3.
What about food markets?
Hala Koszyki and Hala Gwardii are best all-year round options.
For a local green market you may want to visit Hala Mirowska, particularly the outdoor part.
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
• Frederick Chopin’s birthplace in Żelazowa Wola.
• Kazimierz Dolny
There’s plenty to see in Warsaw itself though!
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
Level 27, Teatro Cubano, Niebo.
If you’re looking for one street lined up with different clubs and bars, go to Mazowiecka.
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables?
Yes, they are.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
Make sure to find some time to sit down for a nice cup of coffee or a delicious meal and just enjoy the moment. It’s often better to see less attractions but get a better feel for the city, watch people pass by, breathe in the atmosphere of the place.
How can people learn more about you? Feel free to share your phone, email and contact info below.
I run Warsaw city tours under my own brand Wow! Tours. You can learn more about me at www.wowtours.pl Feel free to contact me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message via facebook at: @WowToursWarsaw (Have you liked it yet?