Warsaw Comes of Age

by Ginanne Brownell

(originally published in Newsweek)

I lasted only six months in Warsaw. I moved there from London in the autumn of 2000, and the city was still suffering its communist hangover: gray buildings stood drearily over streets short on bars and restaurants. The place depressed me, so I left. But a decade on, Warsaw is a completely different city, as Poland’s membership in the European Union (since 2004) is showing its privileges. The skyline is littered with construction cranes; six new major museums are opening in the next few years. The streets are buzzing with swanky new bars, restaurants, clubs, and galleries. Tourists from Israel or India can be found struggling with words like prosze (which means “please,” and is pronounced “Prussia”) and dziekuje (“thank you,” pronounced jen-coo-yah).
The new energy stems from the fact that Poland was the only country in the EU to experience positive growth last year, and the same is expected for this year. According to FDI Markets, which monitors cross-border investments, the city already saw $945 million in foreign expenditures in the first three months of this year (Berlin, by comparison, received just $113 million). Two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, Warsaw is fast becoming one of the great cities of Europe. Read more