Wednesday, August 15, 2012

King and Queen of Warsaw

We arrived in Warsaw from Berlin in the late evening of Sunday, August 12, amazed to find our hotel was only a 10 minute walk from the train station. Now I had see photos of Palonia Palace on the website when we booked our room, but seeing it in person well, we looked pretty silly carrying backpacks when we walked into the lobby. Such a magnificent building that dates back to 1913, it has hosted President Eisenhower and Charles De Gaulle, among others. J and I wee excited to find that we had a king sized bed, since we only had twin beds in both Amsterdam and Berlin, we welcomed the change.
We decided we'd have a little break since we were staying in such a lovely hotel, and start our visit to Warsaw in the morning. We woke up and went down to the most elegant buffet breakfast we have both ever seen, fine dining settings on the table, and so much delicious local produce to choose from. Let's just say we filled our tummies for the rest of the day. Having been told by Mother to go on a city tour, we found one which I think was the exact same one she went on when she visited Warsaw, Warsaw City Tours. Apart from feeling like we had jumped on the free bus taking us to the RSL back home, it was a relaxing tour of the city. We walked around the Royal Park, breathtakingly beautiful and we saw red squirrels climbing trees (J's first time seeing them). The bus stopped the Ghetto Heroes Monument, a monument dedicated to heroism of the ghetto uprising fighters. Then the guide  ,  us to the Old Town of Warsaw, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. Walking around quaint Old Town, you find it hard to believe that these buildings were totally rebuilt after the Second World War
The tour ended in Old Town, where J and I decided we'd stay and eat some pierogi, or I would, any kind of dumplings and it's a hit with me, though Polish perogi are heavier type, they are delicious. So after wetting my appetite started walking in the direction of our hotel, with the huge gothic styled building The Palace of Culture and Science leading our way. We walked towards a park, but were soon stopped by the sight of hundreds of Polish soldiers finishing up a memorial ceremony, interestingly enough in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, quite interesting to see. We still headed through another gorgeous park, and decided that we would actually go to the viewing deck of the Palace of Culture and Science (the tallest building in Poland).
Walking closer to the building J and I joked that this 'palace' building belongs in old comic strip Gotham city, its almost gothic architecture is a real standout in Warsaw, and as magnificent feat as it is, I think it standouts like a sore thumb, especially because it was a present from the former Soviets. We climbed the 30 floors and hopped out the elevator to a freezing chill, windy days in Warsaw are not good days to go up tall buildings, we'll remember that for next time. Looking around all four views, we noticed these huge green fields, not knowing what they were (because all of the information signs were in Polish) until we got a tourist pamphlet of Warsaw Judaica, that it was Warsaw's Jewish cemetery, one of the few Jewish cemeteries still functioning in Poland, it has around 150, 000 gravestones.
After having read both Poland by James A. Michener and Mila 18 by Leon Uris recently before J and I's visit, I was really affected by the stories in these books of the long going torment the people of Poland have had to go through; from Christianity wars to the Warsaw Ghetto. I even had to walk up to Prozna street, the only street still featuring its tenement houses, a survivor of the ghetto, to touch the walls of this building. Because if you came to this city not knowing their history you might not be able to believe that they had to build this city up from scratch.
We left our stay in Warsaw at the Polonia Palace after having our very filling and expensive looking buffet breakfast, this time eating it in the Ball Room of the hotel; feeling like Warsaw has conquered our thoughts for awhile.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful writing you made me feel like l was walking through the park with you
    Haven't missed a blog yet keep them coming
    Miss you love A