Warsaw, day 2...
Warsaw Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
July 15th, 2007 – by: novabelgica
I hardly slept that night. My hotel was right next to the busiest rotunda in the whole of Poland, and the entire population of Warsaw wanted to welcome me to their city by honking and shouting their hello's whenever they drove or walked past that night. And then, to my utter and total amazement, the sun rose at 4am!!! I first thought my drapes were on fire, and when I had made sure that wasn't the case, checked for clocks. They all confirmed it was 4am. I called the front desk, asked what time it was and when confirmed yet again that it really was 4am and that "no, they didn't know why the fuck the sun was up already," I stood there for a moment, mumbling something along the line of 'you GOT to be kidding me...' and then looked at my watch again, sighed, pulled the curtains shut to block out the sun and went back to bed.
I tried to fall asleep, but that didn't work, so it turned 5am and then 6am and that's when I got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Well, that was amazing. I had never before in all my travels seen such a wonderfull breakfast buffet. You name it, they had it. I got some bacon and eggs, some vegetables in tomato sauce, had a croissant or 2, some orange juice and coffee. That would be the typical sight-seeing breakfast(TM) that keeps you going until way past noon.
And so I set off at 8am. It was already extremely hot outside, as I walked east on Aleje Jerozolimskie and took a left on Nowy Swiat, wondering why there was a palm tree on the square and trying my best to stay in the shade. Well ofcourse it was still early and a sunday, so I pretty much had the town to myself. As I crossed Swietokryska and walked up Krakowskie Przedmiescie, I came to the square with the Copernicus statue. It was beautifull. Let me tell you something about Warsaw right now. It is spotlessly clean. What a shock, coming from Berlin, capital of the spray can and dog shit.
Nearby was the Holy Cross Church, where Chopin's his heart is buried. Second pilar on the left if I'm not mistaken.
I walked further north, past Warsaw University, the presidential palace and a multitude of churches. It seemed like there was a church for ever 100 people living in Warsaw. But they were all beautifull and well preserved. (Actually, they just looked that way. The city was almost completely annihilated during the last war and had to be rebuilt from scratch.)
And so I got to Plac Zamkowy with the Royal Palace and the entrance to the Old City.
I had a pleasant stroll down the cobblestone streets and then ventured into Old City Square, which immediately brought Austria to mind (if you ignored the Heineken signs).
By now sweat was running down my back, so I bought a bottle of water for 2 and a half zloty and continued exploring. I walked around the old city again, along the reconstructed fortification walls, to the Barbican, the one remaining entrance gate... or exit gate, depending where you're coming from.
I continued on north to the New City Square which was a bit of a let-down, then turned back and sat down at a streetside cafe for a drink and a little rest, just outside the Barbican.
I headed west, to the Monument of the Warsaw Uprising, which was quite impressive.
Crossed the street to get to Krasinksi Palace and had to sit down in the shade of the trees again, as it was getting brutal out there. I really hadn't expected this kind of weather. I swear to god, if I ever head to Antarctica, there will be a heatwave and the place will have melted by the time I get there.
So I wandered around, came across the Belgian Embassy and made a mental note where it was, just in case... you know, and then ended up at the Plac Teatralny, with the City Hall and the Teatr Wielki.
I ended up back near the Royal Palace, where I had something to eat and a drink, and just enjoyed being able to sit down in the shade for an hour.
I went for a stroll through the Saxon Gardens, with its beautifull statues and was once again amazed by the lack of vandalism and general city filth. It was refreshing. Everything was just so clean and so beautifull. I wandered around for a few hours and then retraced my steps down Nowy Swiat and had another drink at the Brauhaus.
I walked back towards the Palace of Science and Culture, crossed the street and went into the Hard Rock Cafe for the traditional stuff: a teddy bear for my little sis and a pin for me. Since I was running extremely low on T-shirts, I also bought one of those.
Back to the hotel for a shower, a little rest and a drink in the hotel bar (where by now I was on a first name basis with the staff), and then down Marszalkowska for dinner. I had heard a lot of good things about India Curry, so I tracked them down. I got the street right and I got the number right, but when I walked into the place, it looked anything but Indian. Since my brain was cooking by now, I didn't think much of it untill I sat down and this cute girl handed me a menu and said 'Sorry, it's only in Polish.'
'Ah,' said I, 'let's give this a shot then.'
Now actually, it wasn't that hard. I did recognise a few words here and there, saw something that was called 'Stek' and decided to be adventurous.
The girl came back and said 'maybe I help you explain?'
I said it was ok, that I could read it, but couldn't really pronounce it, so I pointed to the 'stek'.
'Hmm...' she said, 'it's a piece of meat.'
'Well, way ahead of you there, sister. Just make it medium rare and I'll take it.'
And it was a steak (thank god) with garlic butter, mango chutney, assorted vegetable crap and fries. See! I understand Polish perfectly. I finished with an espresso, didn't ask any difficult questions, like 'where the Hell is that Indian place anyway?' and much to the relief of the 2 girls left the building, feeling rather accomplished to have conquered the language barrier.
I found an Irish pub, and the rest is pretty much history.
My initial doubts about Eastern Europe had faded as soon as I stepped out of the train station, and I was starting to really like Warsaw. Tomorrow, I was going to hit the parks. They were supposed to be gorgeous. I couldn't wait.
But first, I needed to sleep.
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