The Reconstructed Capital

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Dec 24, 2004

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Flag of Poland  ,
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On my 40th day, I took the morning bus and train to Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. I figure that the sun is setting exceedingly early at 4pm, I have to get in the city early or I would have waste a day. So I waked up at 4 am to get ready for the 5 am bus to Krakow then transfer to an express train to Warsaw. This way I would arrive by 1020 am and possibly get some sightseeing done. All this effort was sort of wasted because at 5 am, I didn't see any bus coming , except 2 buses leaving from the back of the bus building. I walked behind the building just to find one of the bus that just left was heading for Krakow. I was very upset because the label of the 'bus stop' was very misleading so I missed it. I was fortunate because there was a man working at the bus station pointed out that I could walk over to the bus station near by and wait for the next bus to Krakow at 550 am. I thanked the man and stayed at that new bus stop waiting. The wait was unbearable since the freezing wind was howling and I couldn't feel my toes. fearing of frost bites, I forced myself to keep moving so I won't freeze. Finally the bus came at 540 am. I climbed up into the bus and fell asleep. By the time when I woke up, its 800 am and the bus was near Krakow. I left the bus quickly and hopped onto the express train heading for Warsaw. By the time I arrived in Warsaw its 1120 am. The weather here wasn't any better than Zakopane except the fact that it wasn't snowing. As soon as I step off the train, it was raining with the cold wind blowing. I quickly found the hostel and dropped off my bag and started to visit the city.
My first stop is the City history museum. A brief history of Poland : Poland was first settled by the Polish Slavs back in the 9th century. The first King united all the Slavic tribes to form the country of Poland and started the Piast Dynasty. The Greatest King of Poland being its last of the Dynasty by the name of King Kazimierz. Under his rule, the country flourished. Due to his open-mindedness, he allowed and invited the Jew to come to Poland as a safe haven. All this happened in the 14th century. However, great King Kazimierz died with no heir, so his great niece took over the country and then married Prince Jagallo of Lithuania thus expanded the country from the Baltic sea to the Black sea. This is known as the Golden age of Poland. The ruling Jagallian family eventually died off again with no heir in the late 18th century. This time the noblemen throughout the country took over the rule. Since there was no centralized government or control, the neighboring land-hungry Powers, namely Prussia, Russia and Hapsburgs took part in dividing up Poland like a wedding cake. Thus Poland disappeared from the map between 1795 and did not re-emerge until 1918, the end of WWI. Poland enjoyed a few years of independence until 1939 when Hilter from Germany invaded. The Nazis caused extreme destruction in Poland, especially Warsaw. Around 2 Million Poles died from the war of which 380,000 were Jewish. More than 85% of Warsaw was destroyed in 1944 from the retreating Nazis. The reason for so much destruction here in Warsaw is that Hilter want revenge for the damage that Warsaw uprising caused on the Nazis military. Hitler ordered block by block destruction so by the end of 1944, almost nothing left behind in Warsaw except rubbles. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Varsarian rebuild their city brick by brick, stone by stone. To credit the Poles for their tireless effort, the UNESCO world heritage organization entered the rebuild Old town Warsaw into the UNESCO World heritage list. Although majority of the building in Warsaw are not original, but looking at them from a historical perspective, I can feel pride at every corner of the city. The displays in the museum showed Warsaw in different historical periods, although almost everything is written in Polish, by looking at the displays, I can feel the history come alive throughout the years.
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