Monday, July 21, 2008
Warsaw, Poland, Part II
Having adjusted to our living situation, we took off on our first morning with great enthusiasm for seeing the city. We were not disappointed. Warsaw is a beautiful city. It's hard to imagine that the entire city was completely demolished in WWII. The Soviets did a grand job of restoring Warsaw to its prewar beauty. It is now a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. I was mostly impressed with the wide open spaces for sitting and enjoying food and drink. The old town square was a site to behold as the multi-colored buildings surrounded you with a visual feast. The people were lovely as well, most willfully speaking English. So all of the stuff not related to the war or the Jewish ghetto was beautiful and lovely and the architecture reflected a different era, the buildings were in such amazing shape it was easy to see that they are nary 60 years old. Modern Warsaw bustles with busy people, shoppers, and market stalls. Warsaw's economy is thriving and evidence of that abounds. It is a much cheaper city than Stockholm and yet they are no longer the cheap Eastern European date they used to be. Tourism is a thriving industry and they've learned to charge enough to keep themselves in the black.
The Royal Route is a beautiful boulevard that includes the castle and the university. The old and new towns are stunning architectural beauties that lend themselves to stopping and taking it in while sitting in one of the many lovely cafes that beckoned us throughout our stay.
Warsaw has some of the most lovely city parks I've ever seen. The biggest, Lazienki, was a true oasis in the middle of the city. At its center is a gorgeous monument to Fredric Chopin. We enjoyed the lush surroundings on a hot summer day. The other fun fact that I learned is that Marie Curie is polish. Her maiden name if Sklodwska but who knows that?! She won the Nobel prize in both Physics and Chemistry which is really rather remarkable. It was great to learn more about this special Polish woman who has made such an amazing contribution to our society.
We enjoyed our time, but definitely felt two days were enough. The city itself is small, but lovely. I would say however, that it is likely a "b" list must see city and if given the choice, choose Budapest, Hungary or Prague, Czech Republic over Warsaw. See Part III for my comments on wartime Warsaw.