Warsaw...honouring the past

Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
Trip End Aug 10, 2013

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Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Thursday, August 1, 2013

Today we got up early for our Warsaw Guided Tour both on bus and by foot. Warsaw is an absolutely fascinating town. During WWII, it was 90% wiped out by both the German and Allied forces. The town has had to be completely rebuilt, and in doing so, the citizens decided to rebuild it exactly to what it looked like before the war, down to every last detail. I swear if no one told you it had been completely rebuilt you would think it was the same town as it had been 300 years ago, at least in the old town area. It really is incredible. Our tour guide took us to the beautiful park created for the composer Chopin’s statue, past the new Jewish Museum and ghetto uprising memorial, over new bridges to see the gigantic new soccer stadium, and back to the old town to the tiny squares and “old” buildings. At the mermaid statue, we separated for a free afternoon and we went to have lunch in one of the many cafes. Our idea for a quick lunch always seems to turn into a two hour reality thanks to the not so stellar customer service at most restaurants and this one was no exception. The food is always delicious, but often our servers will disappear for half hour chunks of time and sometimes our food does not emerge for hour or so! This cuts down on our exploring of the old town, but the yumminess of the food often makes up for it. The free cherry vodka they served us at the end of the meal helped as well!!

After a quick bit of shopping, Ren and I decided to go and visit the old palace that has been painstakingly returned to its former glory. The palace was completely levelled in the war, and most of the paintings and treasures inside were either hidden by the museum staff at the time, or taken to Russia or Germany, depending on who was coming through. It has taken many years for the building to be recreated based on old photographs and to find all the paintings and original pieces to be found and returned. It was a stunning palace and I completely think it made up for me missing Versailles this time around! Ren and I also ventured up the old clock tower to see some fantastic views of the whole city, before rejoining our group to head back to the hotel.

Tonight we are headed out to our last dinner together and for a party afterwards so we were getting all dressed up for the evening out. Because today is August 1st however, we had to stop what we were doing in order to remember those who fell during the Warsaw Uprising. The uprising began on August 1st, 1944, when those who were left in Warsaw heard that the allies were approaching and that Germany was starting to suffer major battles. The Polish people did not want the allies to liberate them, rather they wanted to liberate themselves, so the resistance movement began to fight their Germasn occupiers as the Soviet Red Army approached. However, the Germans were able to regroup and crushed the uprising in 63 days, destroying most of the city and shipping off thousands of Warsaw citizens to the concentration camps as punishment. Now, on August 1st at 5pm, a loud siren sounds throughout the whole city for one minute, and for that minutes, everything in the whole city comes to a complete stop. Cars with stop in the middle of the street and their drivers will get out and stand next to their vehicles not moving for one whole minute. It is amazing to see, and this little video I found on Youtube shows just how powerful it is when a whole city remembers: http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=%2F#/watch?v=Ejd2rsXoQSI

And now off to say goodbye and party the night away!
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