Tuesday, October 1, 2013


We were up early today--5 AM!  We had a quick cup of coffee, and them left our lovely little apartment.  Our taxi was waiting for us right on time, and it was only 15 minutes or so to the main station.  We were able to board the train a few minutes earlier than usual, which was nice.  Usually it's a mad-house!  We settled into our assigned seats, which were in a small enclosed 6 seat compartment.  We shared the compartment with a family of 3 other travelers--I think they were speaking Italian--it definitely wasn't Polish.

David, all settled in for the ride:

After about a half an hour or so, we went to the dining car for breakfast.  We both ordered scrambled eggs, toast and a cappuccino--it was certainly better than airplane food!

Soon we were rolling into Warsaw's main station.  David, bless his heart, wrangled both heavy suitcases off the train, as well as up and down the many stairs out of the station.  I've been singing The Rolling Stones "Beast of Burden" in my head!  

I had printed out a map of the route to our hotel, and we found it without much trouble.  It was a bit further than we expected, but we survived!

Once again, we are very happy with our little apartment:

Please note the name of our hotel!!

 Small kitchen as we walk in:

Comfy bed:

Nice sitting area:

Spacious bathroom:

By the time we unpacked a bit it was about 12:30, so we hit the streets to look for a lunch spot.  We weren't too choosy, picking about the first restaurant we came to! We shared a small pizza with spinach, feta cheese and parma ham, it was very tasty.

We thought we'd check out the Old Town Square area, so we walked to the nearest Metro stop. 

Along the way--interesting contrast of the old and the new.  The "old' building was built during the communist era, in the 1950's.

We got off at the closest Metro station to Old Town, but still had quite a long walk.  So far, we have found Warsaw to be unremarkable, from an architectural standpoint.  Warsaw has the sad distinction of being the city "most destroyed by any war in history".  

In reading about Warsaw's history, I came across this Wikipedia entry.  Once again, chilling and absolutely unimaginable:

The planned destruction of Warsaw refers to the largely realised plans by Nazi Germany to raze the city. The plan was put into full motion after the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The uprising had infuriated German leaders who now wanted to make an example of the city, which they had long before selected for a major reconstruction as part of their plans to Germanise Eastern Europe:
The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler, October 17, SS officers' conference[1]
Warsaw has to be pacified, that is, razed to the ground.
Adolf Hitler, 1944[2]
Already before the uprising Germans knew Warsaw would soon fall into Allied hands in a matter of few months at most, yet unprecedented resources were diverted to the destruction of the city. This illogical decision have tied up considerable amount of soldiers and equipment much needed on the Eastern Front and on the newly opened Western Front after D-Day landing. With incredible devotion Germans have destroyed 80%-90% of the buildings and an immense part of the cultural heritage was deliberately demolished, burned to the ground, or stolen. Until today more than half of antique and museum objects consisting of Polish heritage, stolen by Germans in 1944, have never returned to Poland (many are well-known to be kept in modern German museums, some are even put as exhibits). After the war, extensive work was put into rebuilding the city according to pre-war plans and historical documents. As most of Poland, the city was rebuilt without any German help whatsoever (unlike Stalingrad and many other cities, where German forced labour was immensely used during and after the war as part of war reparations). 

Here is a photo of the square after it's destruction in WWII.   85% of the city of Warsaw was destroyed by German troops.

After the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the Polish people undertook a meticulous restoration of the Market Square, using original plans, drawings and photographs.  They accomplished this in just 5 years.  

Market Square today: (they are currently restoring the center of the square, installing new pavers)

As we walked around the square, we initially were both a bit "put off" by the new buildings.  (although I'm almost embarrassed to admit that now)   After talking about it a bit, we realized that the rebuilding of the square is actually a wonderful testament to the great strength, pride and determination of the Polish people.  After our brief time here and in Krakow,  I absolutely have a new found respect and admiration for Poland.

We left the square and walked around the pretty lanes along the reconstructed old city wall.

Nice view from the upper wall:

 We walked along the wall, and through an old (rebuilt) guard tower and entrance gate on the wall.

I spotted this on the side of a building--made me smile!

We popped into a church for a quick look:

We stopped in a small restaurant for a much needed warming mug of mulled wine.  As we relaxed and sipped our wine, we talked about our impressions of Warsaw, so far.  Of course, it doesn't have the same original, ancient charm of Krakow, but we do appreciate what they have accomplished in the years after the war, and also in the short years since the communist rule.  I think the Poles are tough and determined people!  

We decided we'd head back to the hotel and warm up before going to dinner.  We "wimped" out and took a cab--it was cold, way too far to walk to the Metro, and we just didn't want to fight the mobs of commuters during rush hour.  It was $5 very well spent!

After the taxi dropped us off near our apartment, we found a good size grocery store and bought a few supplies for breakfast the next couple of days, then went back to relax for an hour or so.  For dinner we decided to stay close to "home", and chose a "The Bull Dog Pub and Steakhouse", and each had the ribs and fries--they were quite tasty!  Did I mention we are sooooo over Polish food? 

Early to bed for us--it's been a long travel day, especially since David woke up at 2:30 am this morning in Krakow!

Tomorrow in Warsaw:  Not sure yet, most likely a museum visit, and maybe some shopping!

1 comment:

  1. You had to stay there even if it wasn't so perfect! Love the red cabinets- cute place!