Sunday, May 03, 2009

Warsaw Recap - 1 of 3

One of the advantages of blogging every day is that not every post has to be fabulous. It just has to be. Another is that I can draw things out a bit. Thus, this will be the first of three posts recapping our recent weekend in Warsaw.

I'll start by saying that I enjoyed it the trip as a whole, but that I don't think either one of us were blown away. (Part of this was that after he booked the trip, Fred heard the Kraków would have been the better choice.) However, we saw some new stuff, saw some stuff (very much like stuff) we'd seen before, and we have now changed the Warsaw pin in our world map from white (trips we'd like to take or that we have planned) to red (places we've been together.) The white pin went immediately to Kiev, by Fred's decree. By the way, the mermaid at the top is the coat of arms of Warsaw.
I've divided our tour up into three posts. This first post is about Old Town and New Town. It's easy enough to write about the Old Town - and the New Town - because they're so darn cute. They've been restored or rebuilt or transformed into everything you want a little Eastern European city to be. If you were just staying for a day or two, it would be a great area to stay in because being there would bookend your day. We stayed a little further out, which was fine.

We approached Old Town by coming across the square in the photo above. After walking the long avenue (not such a chore), we rounded a corner and saw the square. Seeing it made me really happy. It's got that old feeling with the quaint houses all painted up in various earth tones. Totally cute and worth the price of admission. (No, you don't actually have to pay admission; it's just an expression.)
While we were there, they had a big military thing where they were marching around. May 3 is the anniversary of the Constitution of Poland and there was a lot of stuff going on that had to do with that the whole weekend. Most notably, closed shops on Saturday.

The square in the New Town is totally cute. There are outside restaurants and people selling things. There are a lot of shops around the square. One thing about these shops that I noticed is that they are filled to the brim with lots of little things. They have multiples of thimbles and figurines and postcards, etc. Doing inventory in one of those stores would be horrible. There's also lots of authentic really old Polish stuff to buy - if that's your thing.

We also spotted some carved handicrafts. Old Jewish men were a popular subject. And speaking of carving/sculpture, there is lots of this kind of thing around...

There are other details that give the square lots of charm.

They're definitely trying to convey the Eastern European charm of Warsaw in better times - i.e. pre-WW2. The colors and music on the square made it a nice place to sit. Of course that means that it was flooded with people. However, it never felt totally crowded or claustrophobic. Maybe it wasn't that bad because tourism is down a bit. But I heard several American voices. I was surprised at how many. I wouldn't think this would be where a lot of Americans wanted to put their tourist dollars. There was some very interesting art on sale in around the square. We bought a small print.
Right next to the Old Town was the Monument to the Insurgents of the Warsaw Uprising. It's large and imposing. It's sort of impressive in terms of its design, but the artist in me didn't love it. It was sort of stiff and cold. I sort of missed that whole Warsaw Uprising story when I was in history class. Fred missed taking a picture of the whole thing because he was trying to take really artsy shots. (The basic documentation photos are usually my department, but I forgot the smaller camera.) So here's one I found.

While Warsaw's Old Town and New Town are both cute and worth a visit, they are not all there is to the EU's eighth largest city. There's much more, which I will cover tomorrow and Tuesday. By the way, the exchange rate was one euro to 4.39 PLN or oty.

Yes, an entire weekend of doing math in my head! We were surprised at how affordable it was. We had a couple of very nice dinners for less than we thought we would have to pay. I wonder how prices will change when the euro finds its way to Poland.

1 comment:

Busana Modela said...

Great blog youu have here