How would you like to view this page?  
Home colours (striking white on navy) Away colours (bigger navy text on a white page - easy read version)

Jump To:

See Also:


(Based on visits to Poland in April 2001 and Warsaw in June 2005, Budapest in April 2003, Zagreb in October 2000 and Sarajevo in Sept 1999)  


Eastern Europe is probably my favourite part of the planet (that I've actually been to, that is). There's something about the general pace of life, and the price of beer, that keeps me going back for more.

This mini-guide is for the places I don't know quite well enough to devote a whole mini-guide to. The Poland and Budapest guides were taken directly from an email to a friend of mine (Davie Carruth) who was touring Eastern Europe with his fianceé Shannon in Spring 2003. The Zagreb and Sarajevo paragraphs are taken from my distant memories of my short trips there in 2000 and 1999 respectively.

Back to the top



Almost every pub is underground (which I like, although I'm sure Health & Safety wouldn't). The beer (mostly Zwyiec) is very strong, but if you get the chance, give Helvetius a go. The best vodkas are Wyborowa (clear and normal - good chilled if you have to drink it neat) and Zubrowka (or bison-grass vodka, very smooth and mild taste) - Zubrowka and apple juice mixed in equal parts is called a Tatanka, and is very nice (and doesn't give you a hangover). Remember that no-one pronounces "W" (as in Germany and Russia, it is sounded as a "V", therefore Warsaw = "Vashava").


A great place to go, and great weekend nightlife (although very quiet during the week). We got almost all of our pubs out of In Your Pocket, but in particular I recommend the Latacy Holender (Flying Dutchman), in the basement of the LOT building on the south of the old town, and the pub on the right of the old town square in the middle as you walk in from the river. The cafes on Mariacka (running between the huge St Mary's church and the river) are also well worth a visit.

Gdansk is beautiful, and you can get a boat to where WW2 started, as well as jump on a 20-minute train to Sopot (twinned with Southend!), home to one of the world's longest piers, a Baltic beach and a Scottish pub called the Language Pub. There are also loads of castles and stuff around, but we didn't go (and you can get a boat to Hel).


It took a while before I managed to visit Warsaw (in Summer 2005), but had heard mixed things, from high crime rates to a disappointing old town. I'm happy to report that the Old Town is nice, if a little on the new side, and we weren't troubled by any aggro, although there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of shell-suited skinheads hanging around the Metro stations!

We splashed out and stayed in the top-notch Le Meridien Bristol (well, it was on the way home from a week in Belarus!), which was well-placed between the Old Town and the newer commercial centre around the main station (which is a real hive of scum and villainy!). There's a sad story behind the destruction (and subsequent reconstruction) of the Old and New (but still very old) Towns, as the Nazis sought to target the most ancient and nationalistic signs of the Polish psyche with their slash and burn withdrawal (the Russian Army is also accused of being complicit as they sat and watched on the opposite bank of the river). So although everything (bar one wall) is basically a little shinier than it should it be, and has the feel of a communist theme park attempt at how things were once upon a time, there is a very good reason for this!

We were only there for two days, and I was suffering from a summer cold, so our sight-seeing and drinking was severely curtailed. We did make it up the very kitsch "Palace of Science & Culture" tower by the station - the tallest of the "Stalin's Birthday Cake" towers (the others are in Moscow, although a few mini ones exist, e.g. Riga). We went on a Monday morning expecting it to be quiet - it was mobbed with screaming Polish school kids, and there's only a few lifts. Just over the road, similar views can be had in much more comfort in the bar of the Marriott Hotel (expensive drinks, mind!).

Our eating and drinking experiences were very limited - Elefant on Pl Bankowy had excellent steaks, and Pierogarni on Piwna in the old town had incredibly friendly service and did taster plates of Polish staple pierogi (like big, doughy ravioli). The Pub pod Barylka, down the hill from the Old Town entrance on Marienstazt Square was not as good as the Lonely Planet (1999 edition, admittedly!) made it sound, but still worth looking out for a decent range of Polish beers.

There's a lot of things we didn't do, and we certainly would go back, so watch this space!

The rest of Poland

Krakow supposedly more than makes up for this (we want to go there). Avoid Wloclawek at all costs (but if you do end up there, head for the Warka Strong Club), and Bygdoszcz, where the Scotland game was played, is surprisingly okay (and full of student nurses) - best bet of all there is the Amsterdam pub and the superb Pub Medyk.

Back to the top


A couple of bandits in Gdansk

Riverside in Gdansk

Central Bygdoszcz

Hungary (Budapest)

I'd recommend getting the 11am bus from Deak Ter (opp Le Meridien hotel) to the Statue Park (just under £7 for the bus and entrance) full of old communist statues. There you can buy a "Simple Red Band World Tour 1917-1971" tshirt with Lenin, Stalin and Marx on. You get around 40 mins at the park, but that's plenty as its just a group of statues in a park (but they do make for some good photos).

The obvious choices such as the Parliament building, the Palace and the Fisherman's Bastion are worth a visit, and if you want to see a mummified Saints' hand, head for St Stephen's Basilica.

The one must-do thing I'd recommend is the House of Hungarian Wines, opposite the Hilton hotel in the Palace Old Town bit - you pay a tenner each (3500 forint) and get a small tasting glass for keeps. For this you get two hours wandering around a wine cellar with around 50-60 open bottles of wine that you just help yourself to with your glass. Expensive-ish, but you can work hard and make it count! The Hilton over the road has an amazing wine cellar built into the hillside (i.e in a cave) - head in the front door, turn left past the bar and keep following the signs, even when they lead downstairs into the rock. Wine there is relatively expensive (£2-ish a glass) but it's worth a visit just for the one!

Be cautious in the touristy pubs on the main street (Vaci Utca) as they can scam tourists. There is a (posh) Scottish pub in a going-out street (Raday Utca) called Sir William (as in Wallace) - we left a Scotland France '98 scarf when we were there - it's not worth hanging around in there. Another going out area is around Oktagon. If you go to West Station (Nugati Pu) and walk down Jokai St towards Oktagon, you'll pass the Crazy Cafe on the right (with all the beer signs outside) - worth popping in if you're there (just for the waitresses!). Jokai St heads up to Oktagon and the trendy street cafe-ish Liszt F Ter.

If you get tired of the touristy city centre, and fancy a slice of real local life, you could head for the pubs near Kispest Honved's ground (Ferenc Puskas' old team, before he went to Real Madrid) - we saw them play when we were there. Get the blue metro (M3) to Hatar Ut, walk out the metro to the right and get a number 42 tram (it can come either side of the track as it's a terminus) - stay on it 6 stops to Tulipan Utca (look for a bunch of grapes and a borozo sign on the right 150m before the stop). The Borozo (at Ady Endre Utca 115) is a real traditional local - i.e. a room with a shelf to lean on and a handful of stools. The wine is served out of soup canteens on the counter into half-pint glasses and cost us 15p-30p a go (I think we were undercharged as we left a NATA pennant - look out for the yellow one on the wall). Wine bars in Hungary are not really full of women, but Helen was fine in there (after she politely refused a red wine spritzer!). Right next to the tram stop is another decent bar, and 150 yards on from the stop is a railway line (right next to the ground's turnstiles) - immediately right here is another good bar called Arena (although I did have to speak German to be understood!). To complete this, there's another bar inside the
ground (in the bottom of the Kispest Hotel building), although this might only be open for games. Well worth a trip if you want some local colour (even if there's no game on). If there is a game on there, ladies should get in free - it'll cost blokes around £3!

Back to the top


Central Budapest

Standing at the Statue Park

In a pub in Kispest

Kispest Honved's ground

Looking across to the Castle

In the House of Hungarian Wines


Croatia (Zagreb)

Zagreb is a fantastic city, and I'd even consider it for a stag weekend. The nightlife is superb, the city is picturesque, and the women are absolutely stunning (see the entry in Women of the World). The city developed around the end of the 19th century, when the railways moved in, and a lot of the historic buildings are from around this time.

Sight-wise, you need to head up the funicular railway from Ilica to Gornji Gradec, where you'll find narrow cobbled streets and the mosaic-roofed Parliament building. There's a pleasant stroll downhill to Tkalciceva (where a load of pubs are - see below). The Maksimir Stadium, where Dinamo Zagreb and the national team (usually) play is worth a visit, as is the small zoo over the road in the park. Zagreb's second team, NK Zagreb, play in a typical Eastern European stadium in the south-west of the city centre - near the University area (and lots of student pubs and cafes).

The main pub when were in town was the Bulldog - named after the Bad Blue Boys' (Dinamo's Ultra group) mascot. You can find it in Bogoviceva, just south of the main square (Trg Josip Jelacica), a street running at right angles to the huge glass palace that is the 3* Hotel Dubrovnik. Just south of the Dubrovnik is the excellent Boban italian restaurant, owned by Zvonimir Boban, the ex-Croatian international.

A far more fertile hunting ground for cafe-bars is Tkaciceva, running from Trg Josip Jelacica northwards (right up to the highly-recommended, but not by me as I never went, Saloon nightclub). There are dozens of small, cosy cafe bars where it is equally acceptable to have a beer or a coffee - all of these spring to life in a pavement cafe style when the weather's fine. For more lively drinking, head one street up to Opatovina, where half-a-dozen popular bars sit cheek-by-jowl. Another two bars worth seeking out are next door to each other up Gradec hill - the magical Hobbit, and the brightly coloured cocktail bar next door.

Back to the top


Central Zagreb

Over the fence at NK Zagreb

Trg Josip Jelacica

Bosnia (Sarajevo)

Sarajevo was one of those places I instantly regretted not spending more time in. We stayed in the Hotel Saraj at the the head of the horseshoe-shaped valley the city sits in, and it was around 10-15 minutes walk downhill to the Turkish quarter of the old town.

My abiding memory of the city was how much the streets thronged with young, happy people. We popped into a pizzeria (owned by a retired bodyguard) near the Turkish quarter whilst it was still light, and when came back out, it was dusk and there were smiling young people our for a good night everywhere we looked. We literally got swept into the brilliant named Cafe Muppet, and sampled a good few other bars in the centre before getting a cab out to the Harp, an Irish bar near to the Kosevo Stadium and a favourite with ex-pats and squaddies.

Two other places worth mentioning are: Marquee, on the river front - a late night bar with a Harley Davidson inside, a good selection of music, and, when we were there, porn on the telly; and Fis, a lively student bar/club where we were made very welcome and met lots of decent people. The beer is superb - Sarajevska Pils is, in my opinion, up there with the best brews Eastern Europe has to offer.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of time spent there, we didn't get to see any sights.

Back to the top


Looking over Sarajevo

The sights of Sarajevo

Inside the Kosevo Stadium


Search NATA Online: powered by FreeFind

Copyright notice: All photographs on this site are the property of individual members of the Netley Abbey Tartan Army unless otherwise stated. The copyright of these images remains with the individual possessing the photographic negatives, and permission should ideally be sought before copying them. We are keen to prevent anyone from making financial gain from our copyrighted images, or bringing the reputation of the Netley Abbey Tartan Army into disrepute (as we are more than capable of doing this ourselves).
If anyone does wish to use these images and would like express written consent to do so, please e-mail Paul Allison using via the contact page.
© Netley Abbey Tartan Army, 2001-2008 (and beyond...)