Walking Through Warsaw

Speeding cars, towering buildings, tourists weaving through the streets, these are the basic components of any city.   At first you may ask, “What’s so different about Warsaw?” when in reality it is a completely different world.  From the way people look to the city’s skyline, differences are a commonplace.

From the moment I stepped off the plane I could feel the vibe of the city flow through me.  People look at you curiously to spot any foreign aspects but as soon as they hear the familiar accent they go back to their own buThis acknowledgement of newcomers is drawn out to a greater extent in smaller cities where I also stayed.  However, cities such as Warsaw are rather used to accommodating denizens of foreign lands.  They welcome them into their rich homeland which overflows with history.  Ironically, a part of this history  was  effectively captured by a simple postcard I happened across at the top of the Palace of Culture and Science.  On this card was Warsaw in 1945, buildings crumbling and smoke spiraling into the air.  Below this post-war image was the landscape of the more recent Warsaw, modernized and thriving.

It was in this later image that I found myself now, amongst the diesel ticking Peugeots and Skodas and the colorful boutiques that lined every street.  The Palac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science) stood behind me.  Just minutes ago I was at it’s highest terrace looking down on the city.

This structure is one of the tallest clock towers in the world.  Looking down upon the city of Warsaw is similar to that of gazing down the lengths of Chicago from the Willis Tower.  People from all the corners of the world climb to the top of this structure which was, “a gift of the Soviet people to the Polish nation.”  Joseph Stalin actually enforced the construction of the building and it was considered a pain to look at for some time.  After Stalin’s fall however, his name was scratched out and the building was left to morph and become Poland’s own.  It continues to stand as Warsaw’s tallest building, being put to such uses as a cinema, bar, and tourist frequent.

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History also took place in the Lazienki Krolewskie (Water Palace.)   Once inhabited by Polish kings, the property is elaborately planned.  The most recent of the kings was Stanisław August Poniatowski.  This krol (king) lived his luxurious life out on over 180 acres of land.  The property itself survived World War II and continues to bring in crowds with it’s beauty.  People are drawn to the embellished architecture, a tour of the main palace building, strutting peacocks, and winding forest trails.

If anyone has yet to have their fill of culture the Stare Miasto (Old City) in Warsaw shall suffice their cravings.  The cobble lined streets date back to the city’s beginnings.  Even portions of the ghetto walls are marked off in places. Vendors dot the avenues, giving off the scents of zapiekanki (baked bread dish) and charming tourists with handmade gifts.  The colorful buildings and unique architecture that’s seen here is a rarity in modern cities.  Warsaw on the other hand is overflowing with these treasures.

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