I have to admit. I was expecting Warsaw to be bleak. Even the name in English, Warsaw, sounds terrible. In fact, the first neighborhood I explored kinda was. But more than that, it was interesting. Random artful graffiti, unusual film posters, and remnants of long destroyed building were in evidence. Also strange, there were nice hotels around those areas - as if they are anticipating gentrification, if such a thing even exists in Eastern Europe.
We stayed at a nice hotel that caters to businessmen - obviously, we were tagging along on a work trip after all. When that happens, I always seem to notice the sharp contrast between the suited men making deals in the lobby and the hoi polloi of the streets, like me. That’s a lot what Warsaw itself was like - a contrast of hard earned public real estate scattered amongst large areas of modernity with a noticeable push toward city improvement. With all of the modern and wonderful new sites for business and pleasure, I couldn't help but wonder where the money came from. Britain has such a large influx of Polish migrant workers that I must have been expecting a dismal setting from which they were all fleeing.
|Copernicus Museum of Science - hot air balloon demonstration|
I was blown away by their modern presentation and ingenious, touchable design - even the Warsaw Uprising Museum had a full room dedicated to a milder representation of the strong material of the rest of the exhibits - such as teddy bears and toys used by children of the period. It didn’t have that saccharine Disney flavor, nor did it have that “life is hard, deal with it” Soviet one.
|A seemingly endless list of the fallen, yet another sad memorial - Uprising Museum|
|Polish dolls from wartime Warsaw|
We have loads of photos of great sites, but no pics of the place we had lunch and hot chocolates at almost every day. It was an inexpensive cafe, part of a Polish chain perhaps, where they served yummy mulled wine, coffees, weird-but-delicious Greek salads, and quiches. We had a lot of fun lounging around there, so I feel I have to mention it, even though I can't remember the name.
|Isabella is a bit big for a stroller, but I sure was glad we had it|
This strangely beautiful Empire State Building look-alike was a "gift" to the city of Warsaw by the Soviet union - it's actually called the Palace of Science and Culture. I heard that its presence remains controversial; some people even want to tear it down. Inside the building are a number of venues, including the small Museum of Evolution which houses dinosaur bones from past Polish expeditions and a room full of crazy taxidermy. The interior of this building is so cool - all of the mouldings, light fixtures, and details would make a design enthusiast get pretty excited.
|Museum of Evolution|
After we saw all there was to see in the Museum of Evolution (it was small enough that Isabella actually asked to keep seeing more stuff : we did two rounds), then we walked outside to find a newly installed ice rink. I had around only a few zlotys left, but didn't know if I'd have enough for skating for the two of us. I didn't. But the vendor took pity on my communication skills and inability to properly count and gave us skates anyway.
|Warsaw Zoo - A giant Easter Egg in December,|
makes me wish I understood some Polish
And now, I'm back to convalescing the weekend away. Isabella and I have been drinking strange brews of tea with this Slovenian "super honey" I bought in Ljubljana last autumn to cure our cold. Though the lady I got it from explained to me what was in it, I can't remember now - I'm hoping the magical quality of the strange language will have the placebo effect on me, if nothing else!