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Training to Warsaw

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania was a place steeped in history; the churches, the bell towers, the palace, the cobbled streets, the two-minute noodles …. okay well the noodles have been traveling with me and you don’t just find them lying around on the street but I have been slowly working my way through the packets loaded into my backpack.  Eight down, only twelve to go.  The day these are finished, as well as the tins of sardines I took with me from Nederland, will be a day of great celebration.

 

 

Whilst in the capital of Lithuania, I got to walk around the streets and orientated myself so well I ended up three kilometres out of the city and had to walk on the motorway to get back.  Clearly not the most pleasant of walks, but the other scenery I saw while in this country was beautiful.

How Warsaw looked after WWII
  Forested areas mixed in with rolling hills, men working in the fields with sickles, old woman sitting on their stoops knitting and gossiping.  It reminds me of a time gone by.  Perhaps this is because Lithuania is the only capital in Europe situated on the boundary of two ancient civilizations - Latin and Byzantine, and maybe it is because of this reason that this region is so tolerant towards different ethnicities and religions; although strongly Catholic, this country was the home for many Jewish people prior to World War Two.

 

 

Most of the sites in Vilnius are within walking distance of each other; the only thing you need to remember is to include some time just taking in the buildings and to look at the artwork on display and the shops you pass along the way selling many items including amber.

Statue to commemorate all the young children who died whilst trying to protect the city
  There are cathedrals, squares, castles and monuments to fill up your day or, if you are a little more adventurous, you can take a ride on a hot air balloon and take in the vista from above. 

But for me there were two highlights; Uzupis and the Museum of Genocide Victims. 

 

 

Artists within the area set up the Republic of Uzupis and the name translates to ‘place beyond the river’.  This river mentioned is the Vilnia River and just prior to entry of the republic, you can have your photo taken outside the sign welcoming you into this area (found on Paupio Street).  As it is a republic it has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches as well as a guardian angel; a bronze mermaid.  It was quite a sweet place to visit, but like a lot of places in Vilnius the tagging had reached here as well which really detracted from the beauty of the place.

I'm famous!

 

 

The Museum of Genocide Victims is found on Auku g. 2a in what was the former KGB building.  The museum itself is on three levels, including the basement, which was used as the KGB prison and housed inmates who went against the party line including many priests.  Deeper discovery of this level meant walking into the execution chamber.  Although not a pleasant place to spend an afternoon, this room provided some understanding of the horror that went on down in this cell.  It was pretty disturbing stuff.  Entrance for this museum was 6Lt (USD$3) or 3Lt for students and you can even hire a guide for an extra fee, although with all the signage in both Lithuanian and English you can follow it well without.  For those of you interested, http://www.

In the Jewish Quarter
genocid.lt/muziejus/

 

 

Leaving the city of Vilnius, I said goodbye to Lithuania as the countryside of Lithuania gave way to Poland and the sights passed by pleasantly while on the train.

 

 

Now I am in Warsaw and I have to admit that I am impressed.  This city was completely destroyed in World War Two, flattened to nothingness, zip, zero, not a sausage and now it has been raised up from the ashes, restored (if that is the correct term) and rebuilt.  Warsaw is quite the architectural and building feat.

 

 

After the war a lot of money started pouring into the country for the rebuilding projects and each building was meticulous restored to original photographs and the buildings were aged to reflect what they would have like originally, no mean feat.

 

 

I spent the day walking and found that Warsaw loves me.  There are street names with Saska, huge buildings, realestates agencies, and even a suburb, sure some of the places were spelt slightly different forgetting an ‘I’ or an ‘a’, but I blame that on spell check more than anything else.  I even took it upon myself to ask people if they wanted my autograph much to amusement of those around me.

 

 

While I’ve been here I went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum.  It was 7zlt (USD$2.5) or 5zlt for students.  I was expecting so much more from this place.  The museum has some truly amazing exhibits and there was obvious care taken with the inclusion of certain artifacts, but the layout was confusing and with no map I tried as best I could to follow the direction of the arrows, but often they contradicted themselves.

My suburb .... almost
  I left the museum feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.  However, the highlight of the place was the B-24 1:1 replica, which you could enter, and have a simulated flight over Warsaw in the spring of ‘44.  This really showed the complete destruction of this city.

 

 

But now, Warsaw is like a phoenix from the flames, rejuvenated and enjoying it’s past.  Hopefully I can look forward to some of that soon – rejuvenated and enjoying the past of dining on noodles and feasting on a new diet, but until then …. Smacznego!

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Training to Warsaw
Training to Warsaw
How Warsaw looked after WWII
How Warsaw looked after WWII
Statue to commemorate all the youn…
Statue to commemorate all the you…
Im famous!
I'm famous!
In the Jewish Quarter
In the Jewish Quarter
My suburb .... almost
My suburb .... almost
The real estate business I set up …
The real estate business I set up…
Seriously I am world famous  :)
Seriously I am world famous :)
One of the 3 mermaids of Warsaw - …
One of the 3 mermaids of Warsaw -…
Warsaw
photo by: EmyG