Even Warsaw's New Town has visible historical aspects.
One fact which sprang to mind when musing over the Polish capital is that Warsaw is in fact an anagram of 'saw war', and in terms of the city's historical events, this rings true several times over. Indeed, it would be a fair assessment to make that Warsaw is a place of a somewhat synthetic fabric coated in a refreshingly traditional allure, as many prominent Varsovian landmarks did not escape a thorough drubbing during wartime, the result of which forced Warsaw not so much to pick up the pieces, but to make whatever they could out of the remaining rubble. Capitalism has been sufficiently kind enough over the years for Warsaw to have been adequately reconstructed, thankfully in a style which reflects the way the city was perhaps originally intended to be, and the city's chief landmark, the Palace of Science and Culture bears testimony to its survival under Soviet occupation, and as such divides public opinion due to its origins and appearance.
Buildings flanking the Old Town's main square.
The mermaid is the city's primary symbol, and fittingly, its companion piece nestles somewhere by the water's edge in Copenhagen, and while the similarities with Warsaw and the Danish capital might well end there, Warsaw has grown up sensibly, and even shed its skin somewhat from the more recent past when the grey and decadent imagery with which you might have associated the place has given way to a city which has weathered the storm and come out looking spruced up and tastefully collaged. Warsaw's new town meshes effortlessly into the old town, and leads onto the restaurant-flanked street which is Nowy Swiat (New World), and to a roundabout with a synthetic and somehow out-of-place palm tree as its main symbol. Commercialism has meant that Warsaw has taken on board all of the facets of modern-day shopping culture which it has been able to embrace, and as a direct result, the shopping culture here is easily as good as it gets for Poland, and in the shape of the Arkadia shopping mall, Central Europe's largest retail space to boot.
Reflection of greenery in Warsaw's Lazienki Park.
On a more local and traditional scale, the outdoor flea market known as the Kolo Bazaar, located in an outlying suburb known as Wola, is a mind-bending collection of memorabilia which might hint at the kinds of items which typify the periods which they date back to. A substantial day trip from a European capital city can often be a visitor's welcome addition to a European city break, and Warsaw delivers here in the shape of Wilanow Palace, easily reachable by the city's user-friendly and efficient transportation network, and an attractively-constructed architectural gem, rendered all the more attractive by the pretty garden setting it is located in. Two separate companies are vying for competition when it comes to offering the city's definitive historical tour, and the 'Adventure Tour', for instance, will provide the insightful look into the Warsaw which is not so evident at first glance, as well as the opportunity to sample authentic Polish cuisine in a communist-era milk bar.
Commercial zone in Warsaw's Praga district.
So, this was Warsaw, and all its redeming features, and although Krakow has been on the tourist radar for a greater stretch of time, this transitional phase for the Polish capital is probably as rewarding and strategic a time to pay the place a visit as any period which has come before it.