Thankful in Warsaw

Trip Start Nov 24, 2009
Trip End Dec 09, 2009

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Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Thursday, November 26, 2009

There's just something taboo about being here for someone of my generation. The entire time I was growing up Poland and the majority of Eastern Europe was off limits and relatively inaccessible due to Soviet control. Because of that stigma hanging around in my psychology it feels like I'm getting away with something. Just the fact that I am not is reason enough on this Thanksgiving holiday for me to be thankful!

Over breakfast I met engineer from LA and a fellow participant in my class here. (Yes, I am taking a class here...more on that later.) We decide to hit the streets and take in the sights in the historical part of town. We walk from our hostel thru Saski Park to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on to Stare Miasto (old town) and Castle Square...the home of Warsaw Castle and the seat of the government for the past 500 years. Inside the castle, a UNESCO world heritage site (then again, what isn't these days!?!), we got the tour of the royal residence (no photos unfortunately) and the artwork and lavish designs inside...including two Rembrandts! Afterwards we went thru the rest of Old Town to the castle's outer walls, where Nowy Miasto (new town) starts. The irony here is that during the war Hitler's regeime razed Warsaw to the ground in his attempt to erradicate the Polish nation and none of what is there today in this part of the city existed before 1945. The Soviets and Democratic Poland after them rebuilt the city exactly the way it was before the war based on old plans and archival photos. Technically that makes it all new town in my book, but a name change here is not a cause I care enough to stand behind.

Interestingly we found ourselves at a Milk Bar for lunch...a cafeteria style establishment that offers cheap dining communist style for the masses, but milk instead of alcohol (hence the name.) I had mushroom soup and pierogi dumplings, but left the milk behind and instead opted for a coke zero (the new milk and strangely enough the most expensive item I ordered!) The entire meal ran me less than $4 and we were definitely the youngest as well as the only tourists eating there.

On the way back we stopped at St. John's cathedral and an observation deck on top of a building giving us a birdeye view of the city. There of course was a spiral stircase leading up 150 feet or so, which I has to duck down the entire ay since it was at it's best 6 inches too short for me! The view was worth the price of admission and gave us the perspective of the old integrated with the new (or is it the old new with the new new,,,it's all so confusing!?!)

After we got back we hit happy hour at the hostel where I was honored to drink my first donated drink from my daughter Stephanie. (I think she just liked the idea of buying alcohol as an underage minor!) Not just one, but two beers there since they were two for one at the time! Thanks Steph! It was there that I met two more cohorts, a Brit named Tom and an Austrian named Felix...two college students as well as my classmates for the weekend. We moved the party onto the Hard Rock Cafe but not before Marco and I had our Thanksgiving dinner: Chicken Kebabs from a street vendor...and yes, they were tasty and we were thankful, especially since the meal was only $4!

As we got home from a late night out I stayed up until 4:30 loading in this first batch of photos in the computer here. The truth of the matter is that this was the first chance one of the systems here was available for use...a fact that seriously has taken a toll on my blogging. Nevertheless the photos are up for your enjoyment. Signing off til next time...Happy Thanksgiving and Dovizenia!

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Jeanine on

Great pictures, very interesting. Really enjoyed reading your blog. Missed you Thanksgiving Day! Have fun, be well and safe.

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