The area around Hala Mirowksa has played a significant part in my life in Warsaw and despite its rather downbeat appearance and reputation it is a part of Warsaw I really like to hang around in. The hall was built between 1899-1901, destroyed in the war and then rebuilt in the 1950’s. For most, if not all of its life it has been a trade hall, targa, and still fills that function today. It makes a very welcome change from Arkadia and other glitzy modern shopping centres although whether your wife would appreciate you taking her there for a shopping trip is doubtful.
Cue picture of M1 (modern shopping centre) advertisement on a tram dominating the view of Hala Mirowksa;
What you can get there is good quality foodstuffs in the smaller kiosks to the right hand side and round the back. Inside the main hall is a very tacky ‘supermarket’ that is not worth visiting unless you’re keen to see what almost all supermarkets looked like when I first got here! Makes you realise just how much has changed.
In front of HM (Hala Mirowksa) is a great flower market where you can get just about anything you want in large quantities for a good price. We never buy flowers anywhere else unless its an emergency and we can’t get over to HM. For example, many flower shops will sell you tulips, roses, sunflowers and such individually for between 4-12 PLN per bloom. At the HM market you can buy them in packs of 20+ and for about half the price. If you have little to spend you can also buy an amazing variety of what I assume are ‘home picked’ wild flowers from the old ladies who spread themselves down Plac Mirowski.
The main kiosks also have a very good collection of flower arrangements of various sizes and costs, something for every occasion. These tend to be in the section to the left of HM towards elektoralna. Here to be precise:
There used to be a Ukrainian band stood in this location singing “Hey Sokoły” for all they were worth. A family by the looks of it and pretty good singers. Haven’t seen them for at least 5 years now.
I know the band well because one of my offices was in this building above what was then the workshop end of a Domino Pizza shop, now above a ProfiLab photo store, and we could hear them loud and clear;
Just behind the kiosk ruchu in that last photo is a small car park and a few small shop units. This used to be an area you could be guaranteed to find a few drunks, usually pissing on the back wall of the kiosk, and plenty of empty beer tins. This little area has changed a lot now. The car park no longer resembles a swimming pool that’s been hit by a missile, the drunks are gone and there are signs of smarter looking tenants in the shop units like this coffee, pasta pizza place;
It’s nice to see it being tidied up I suppose but sad also. That empty ‘wędliny’ shop used to sell some really good stuff and now it’s closed. Just to the right of the wędliny store, how long can Andrzej keep his hairdressing salon going I wonder?
I did have my hair cut there once, only once. Andrzej was then approximately 85 years old and his equipment and indeed hair styles were of a similar vintage. If I recall correctly, he wanted 13 PLN for the cut and probably still charges the same amount. Nowadays I can’t get away with less than 45 PLN for a cut from a 14yr old who’s scared of clippers.
Keep walking just the far side of elektoralna and you get to the ‘street bazaar of reduced circumstances’ (to borrow something from Alexander McCall Smith).
This is a real treat as it brings you back down to earth with a mighty crash. Goods of the strangest kind are laid out on blankets on the ground and people happily come to browse and buy. Pairs of old shoes, old clothes, toasters from the 1950’s (not fashionable ones, just old), glass statuettes that probably cost 5 PLN when new. Incredible, and says something about Warsaw and its pretensions of prosperity.