Old Town, Warsaw
Fondest memory: Being only 50 years old, The Old Town of Warsaw is pricesly built reconstruction. It is quite easy to forget that at the end of the war none of these colorful houses was not destroyed. Big respect to those who made this place live again
Enjoy the old town for what it is, a true testament to the Polish people's strength in the face of adversity.
Fondest memory: Leaving Krakow for Warsaw was not something I really wanted to do. I just could not get excited about this city that was rebuilt from rubble, no matter how hard I tried. It sounded big and sprawling, and just a tad unfriendly. I had immediately felt at home in comparatively small Krakow and going to the “big city” seemed more a chore as it came closer. Having made plans to meet a VTer a day earlier, I was running behind, so with some reluctance, hopped on the train that morning as much to meet her as to visit the city. The ride was dreary gray as I sat in a car with a group of young Polish kids exchanging animated talk and laughter. Arriving in no time, I stepped off the train, still tired from the previous night’s outing, but nervously excited at the prospect of a big and potentially confusing city. It seemed that the whole population of Warsaw was surrounding me as I anxiously looked around for my local contact. She was nowhere to be seen so I headed for the escalator and figured I might find her in the main hall or in front of the train station. As I stepped on the escalator, my gaze naturally turned upward and immediately fixed on the most amazing mane of curly, long, blonde hair I had ever seen. Though I had seen photos of her and she had similar hair, I could not believe that this angelic head of hair could indeed belong to the person I was coming to meet. Within moments, the head turned, and her blue eyes met mine. She smiled and I smiled back, and suddenly Warsaw didn’t seem so bad.
Days later after my stay that was primarily filled with gray and often-drizzly days, I woke up to bright sunshine on the day I was to leave. I debated on taking a later train back to Krakow, leaving my backpack at the pension, and going on a photo shoot to capture a brighter version of the city. I decided that I should make my way south early as it would leave the option of heading to the Tatras open. I could have taken a bus to the station or walked a straight line there, or I could do what I did, leave my camera out and zig zag my way there with camera out and backpack on, snapping the whole way. I managed to get a few good photos but in so doing, arrived at the station with just minutes before my departure time. Luckily the ticket window was empty and I secured one quickly and ran to my platform. So whatever sun you see in these pages was in that one hour jaunt, the best part going through a small park and enjoying the sun shimmer through the trees, if only for an instant.
Favorite thing: Wander around the Old Town. Visiting the Stare Miasto (Old Town), it is nearly impossible to believe that these buildings are only 50 years old or so. And on warm Friday nights in summer, everyone in the city converges onto the Old Town Square (seen here) to socialize, eat ice cream, listen to concerts, and enjoy the city they've rebuilt. It's so refreshing to see people enjoying their city -- most downtowns in the US become deserted at 5 PM every night.
You absolutely must...visit the Old Town. Warsaw was almost completely destroyed during World War II, yet the Old Town has been faithfully restored to look just as it may have in the eighteenth century. The paintings which were used as references in the reconstruction can be seen in the Royal Castle, itself the product of thirty years painstaking restorative labour. There are also reminders of the Polish resistance, including the Professor's House, in which a dissident professor and his students sheltered. Also in the Old Town area, you can see the Street of a Thousand Steps (although there are considerably less than this!) and Warsaw's narrowest house :)
Fondest memory: The people of Warsaw are undoubtedly its greatest treasure.
Favorite thing: The Old Town of Warsaw is quite a colorful contrast to the city centre. There's a huge square where it's quite relaxing to sip piwo (beer) and people watch.
Favorite thing: Mermaid, Sirenka or Rusalka... In many countries this is very lyric personage of folk tales. Here is Warsaw Sirenka looks rather agressive - she is always armed with a sword.
Favorite thing: In the open air, you can listen to both professional and amateur musicians, watch performances of theatrical groups, and admire the works of street artists.
Favorite thing: It is a picture of the Old Town of Warsaw. Definitely a must, you can start your exploration of the city with it.
Favorite thing: See the (new) old town. Almost completely destroyed by WWII bombing, Warsaw's old town has been reconstructed. The old square and small streets are charming, and filled with tourists.