Arrival...

Warsaw Travel Blog

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Warsaw, February 2007

As I sit in the airport waiting to board my LOT flight to Warsaw, I wonder just what the heck I'm doing...  Life in Barcelona is incredible,  I have a nice place in a nice part of a nice city.  A decent job, a wonderful family and friends who have stood by me through thick and through thin...    But here I am, off to Warsaw, to freezing weather but with an exciting project that should last three years!  I'm telling myself - this is going to be great, this is a fantastic challenge, this is an opportunity to get to know a new country, a new culture, a new part of the world that I never expected to have the opportunity to get to know.

Warsaw, February 2007
..  And, since I generally tend to tell myself the truth, I believe it!  This is going to be great.  So, here I am, suitcases in hand and looking forward to making friends, learning Polish and an interesting job.   I guess this is what life is all about - exploring, learning and even taking some risks.  And, the people I love are only a flight away...

Arrival at Warsaw's airport is simple and straightforward - no problems.  I've done my homework and was prepared to reject the offers from numerous taxi drivers offering a ride into the city for around 100 PLN.  Right outside the terminal there were a number of taxis available, and the ride into the center of Warsaw cost 35 PLN - a big difference!  This is my first time in Poland - in any Eastern European or ex-Soviet block country - so I'm doubly excited.

Soviet realism statues surround the Palace of Culure and Science.
..  They're places I never expected to be able to visit, much less spend an extended period of time in.

This is a work deal, so my first hotel is the Westin.  It's a fine place to stay - although you might as well be in any city in any country.  A nice hotel, but it certainly doesn't feel Polish!  I figure I'll do something about that very soon and will start looking for a permanent arrangement immediately.  The breakfast at the hotel is fantastic... 

I need warmer clothes....!  Shoes, above all.  The loafers that are just fine all year long in Barcelona lead to freezing feet here in Warsaw.  According to people I'm meeting at work, this is an unusually mild winter... No way!  Come on, it's 5 below zero and my hands and feet are freezing!  No, they say, last year we were as low as 25 below.

Outside KDT Dom Towarowy.
...   hmmmm... I guess I'm lucky then.  So, I take advantage of some spare time on the first few days to do some shopping and start getting to know my new home.  I get some warm shoes and better gloves, find myself a Polish language school and begin to explore Warsaw.

I guess the most striking feature of Warsaw's cityscape is the Palace of Culture and Science which is right in the center of the city (and right across the street from my office!).  I'm detecting definite animosity towards this building from the older people that I work with.  Some go as far as to say that this "gift" from Stalin to the city of Warsaw should be ripped down.  Personally, I find it kind of attractive...  There are a number of interesting Soviet Realism sculptures all around the building.  Anyway, whether you like it, hate it or are simply indifferent, this building is a helpful landmark when getting oriented to Warsaw...  You can see it from just about everywhere.  Another extremely "touristy" thing to do, which I resisted at first, but finally did, is to ride the elevator up to the observation tower on the 30th floor of the Palace.  It costs 10 PLN and the views of Warsaw are amazing.

I'm also a history lover and WWII has always interested me, so another place I wanted to check out very quickly is the Warsaw Uprising Museum.  This is a fantastic museum, probably one of the best museums in Poland.  Anyone who comes to Warsaw should check it out.  It's a pretty depressing story - that of the Warsaw uprising and that of the Jewish uprising the year before, but it's worth visiting.  I also visited the History Museum on the main market square in Stare Miasto, but this museum wasn't as interesting and didn't have as much information in English.

About the people here... so far, super. Lots of beautiful smiling faces here.  The people I work with are friendly enough and those that I have met socializing and such have been really nice. The friendliness definitely increases if you drink with them!  And vodka (and beer) (and lots of both) are the drinks of choice.  This is going to definitely put a little mileage on my liver! 

I am impressed at how many people - in all walks of life - are really proficient with English.  Sometimes their accents are so good that you cant really tell where they are from.  And... when I try to use the few Polish words that I've managed to learn, they are extremely encouraging.

samink says:
HI Teri, you wrote this in 2007. I wonder how you feel now? Cheers!
Posted on: May 08, 2014
boxinbcn says:
Thanks Teri... It was quite an adventure at first, trying to find my way around, a place to live, etc... but it has been fantastic. I'll be really sad to leave... :-)
Posted on: Dec 07, 2010
terioke says:
It was good to read about your experience in starting out in Poland!
Posted on: Dec 04, 2010
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Warsaw, February 2007
Warsaw, February 2007
Warsaw, February 2007
Warsaw, February 2007
Soviet realism statues surround th…
Soviet realism statues surround t…
Outside KDT Dom Towarowy.
Outside KDT Dom Towarowy.
Warsaw
photo by: EmyG