Lala is my beautiful doll from Warsaw, which I bought on our first trip to Poland in 1974. Lala is a favorite in my collection. It may be commonplace to people who see them every day in the shops, but she's very special to me.
1974 Warsaw was a very different world to me. Our first &only trip behind the Iron Curtain...at a time when life was cold and difficult in Poland. Not the best time of the year...we froze. But I left with tears in my eyes and wanting to stay.
Talk about change! My latest trip in 2006 was a dramatic change from my 1st one in the 70's. I'm so happy for Poland. She has come such a distance since the disintigration of the Soviet Union.
A pic from our airplane window of the police and soldiers who were ever present during our journey in '74. We saw them ransack the bundles of personal goods belonging to old women leaving Poland..we heard their boots on the street...and saw their guns held in readiness. Sometimes we wondered if we had done the right thing coming to Poland. However we were allowed to move about on busses and tours and walk through the city without interference. But there was that presence...we felt it every moment.
That was why I was scared to death every time my husband and another man on our tour went out to change money on the street. The money changing was a game in those days. The exchange rate became more bazaar with each passing day. It was incredible. I think we did the vacation for free by the time it was over with. Like a clandestine movie to us. Very funny..but pretty scarey at the same time.
Another pic..I'm standing in front of a very charming crystal shop..which Poland was noted for. I found a vast difference in the shops between '74 and 2001. Now so many goods and services available which were not here in '74..but there is the absence of that nostalgic little business on the square which felt very old world to me.
As you can see the square wasn't very lively in the cold of late winter. The buildings have been painted more vibrant colors since our first trip. Here is where we viewed the short film at the museum which shows the bombing of Warsaw...and the story of its reconstruction. A very moving story of such courageous people.
Home from my fourth trip to Poland and thinking back to my first trip in 1974. These old photos remind me of that melancholy time, making an indelible impression on me. Poland today is a tribute to its people and their ability to rebound. Old Town is a tribute to their strength and determination.
Even the summer scenes of 74 show you how little was happening in the square... not many tourists brave enough to venture in behind that curtain.
I doubt there will ever be a turning back to those times now that Poland has come so far in their development, business investments, and access to the rest of the world. The internet, CNN, and our modern information world brings everyone up to date and aware. (AWARE IN BOTH DIRECTIONS)