Photos, Travel

Warsaw and Its Multiple Personalities

February 22, 2014

When I first arrived in Warsaw and got out of the train station, I saw a sea of modernity. Sparkling new high-rises and a huge shopping mall were the first things that greeted me. All I knew about Warsaw was its history, a history of struggling, invasion, and resilience. Certainly not a modern metropolis.

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IMG_1344And then, upon closer inspection, dotted through all this are the typical ugly Soviet-style building blocks, much like the place I stayed in:

My apartment building

My apartment building

…and it’s no more prettier inside!

Of course, most of Warsaw was destroyed during WWII. So the city had to rebuild. Fortunately, the Old Town was reconstructed so that most of it would appear as it did prior to the war. It’s a charming area with plenty of reminders of its tragic past.

Old Town

Old Town

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Sigismund's Column

Sigismund’s Column

Royal Castle

Royal Castle

Hey, they've got a cracked bell too!

Hey, they’ve got a cracked bell too!

 

One interesting stop was a typical “Milk Bar.” These were cafeteria-style eating places where people could get cheap food subsidized by the government, usually soups and hardy food. When you enter, you pay the cashier for what you want. You’re given a piece of paper that you take to a window to be handed your meal. I can’t remember the name of the soup (and couldn’t pronounce it) but the reddish color lead me to believe it was a borscht, although darker than most borschts I’ve seen.

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Probably the most notable building in Warsaw is the Palace of Culture and Science. This was a “gift” from the people of the Soviet Union to the people of Warsaw. What it really was, was a symbol of communist power. Today, it houses a concert hall, various exhibits, museums, and more. It’s imposing and to me, pretty ugly.

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Palace of Culture and Science

View from the top

View from the top

View from the top

View from the top

One side note is that the building stands near the former ghetto wall, a much more sobering reminder of Warsaw’s recent past.

IMG_1331Overall, I found Warsaw interesting but not a place I’d want to spend a lot of time visiting. On to Krakow.

 

 

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