Some wiggling, some crying, and lots of walking in Warsaw

HOB started and ended our Polish trip in Warsaw, sleeping at the same hostel both times.  Though we’re used to being the oldest people at the hostel, this time we were really old since the other hostel guests were kids (apparently on field trips) pre-teen or younger.

hostelbeds

HOB did not share his beer with the kiddies at the hostel.

oilvinegar

We didn’t have much of an agenda the day our plane landed, other than buying olive oil, which for me is serious business.  Hala Koszyki, an elegantly restored vintage market hall not too far from our hostel, had a perfect store with a variety of fine oil and vinegar.  We bought one of each and used them to dress our salads throughout our time in Poland.  (Okay so I have to confess that HOB and I are such gluttons that we finished the bottle of olive oil in a week and then dressed our salads with vinegar alone for several days afterword.)

heads

Warsaw is a familiar feeling city, with wide boulevards and high rises that reminded us of our home town Chicago.  But still we found plenty of strange thing to gape at, like this sign, which as far as I’m concerned should hang in a contemporary art museum.

alkohole

For some reason I thought the Polish word for alcohol was hilarious.

ALKOHOLE.

Watch out!  Don’t drink too much and fall in an alkohole!!!

torsos

All that holding-up-a-balcony business can really give a guy ripped abs.

warsaw

Warsaw’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is quite a pleasant place but still, you should realize it’s a reproduction—the original was destroyed in WWII.  (Can you imagine the painstaking effort it took to reconstruct an entire old town?)

pazci

HOB has an unrelenting sweet tooth and he made a paczki disappear in 90 seconds flat.

hostelsign

At the end of our trip we returned to the hostel, still full of (even younger!) kids.  We still didn’t have much of an agenda but we wanted to see the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto so we set out on a long, rambling walk.  The weather was ideal and Warsaw has a hip vibe that makes for great people watching—-if only the city had more public restrooms it could be a champion town for walkers

After several hours of walking in the vague direction of the former ghetto, we discovered a wonderful park full of high-end exercise equipment that I tried out and found to be a really fun version of wiggling (I didn’t know HOB was filming me so I’m telling him to stop it),

Two friends were also using a machine together—I like to think they come to the park every day to work out in their cardigans and black skirts.

neveragaintoanypeople

Just beyond the wiggly park we found a museum and monument dedicated to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising where 13,000 Jews died resisting Nazi efforts to transport them to concentration camps.  The museum square (and the surrounding ghetto area) is filled with reminders of the incomprehensible cruelty of that time, including many devastating personal stories.  HOB and I were doing that ugly sort of crying, where you try to not cry because you think your own personal emotion is irrelevant in the face of so much loss.

It was fortunate that we had a long walk back to our room and especially good to return to all those kids in the hostel kitchen munching bread slices topped with Nutella.  I fervently wish that those children will never experience the horrors of their great-grandparent’s generation.

In the words of Elie Wiesel:

“Never again” becomes more than a slogan: It’s a prayer, a promise, a vow. There will never again be hatred, people say. Never again jail and torture. Never again the suffering of innocent people, or the shooting of starving, frightened, terrified children. And never again the glorification of base, ugly, dark violence. It’s a prayer.”

pigeons

 

 

How we got to Warsaw: flight from Chicago.

Where we slept: Warsaw Downtown Hostel.  Price: €29 for a double. Recommended: yes.

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14 comments

  1. We must continually remind ourselves of “man’s inhumanity to man” (and to woman and child) — I wonder if a certain POTUS on his recent visit to Poland took any time between adulation from bussed-in rentacrowds to reflect on the end result of demonising particular ethnic groups? (Sorry, no more politics — can’t say the UK has covered itself in much glory recently.)

    As always, enjoying your travel journal, especially for its allowing me vicarious visits to many countries I’d like to go to in person. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think we are not in a position to say “no more politics”. Either we speak up against demonizing ethnic groups or we are allowing a political environment where atrocities like those that took place in Warsaw could happen again. Yes, I am well aware that POTUS 45 went to Warsaw without visiting the ghetto uprising monument and made a thinly veiled white nationalist speech. “We write symphonies”–barf!–hilarious from a man who wants to cut arts funding from the budget and has a virulently anti-science world view. Also, do we actually believe that no countries other than Western nations created art, music, or advanced science and medicine?

      Thanks for following along. I love to follow other blogger’s travels too—and oh man do I have a long list of countries I’d like to visit but haven’t yet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately, the world over, “never again” seems to be more a prayer than a commitment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Quite true. Though I can’t take on the world, I do what I can to make sure my elected representatives understand that “never again” needs to be a commitment, not empty rhetoric. This days it can be difficult to feel optimistic….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I want those weird exercise machines here in my town! Hilarious and looks great for the hips? Is that where you felt it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I want them too—exercise should be fun! I live by the beach and we have exercise stations but they are more like pull up bars: nothing this sophisticated. I did feel it in the hips.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Warsaw is such a testament to the depth and strength of the human spirit. I love this city—and it’s not the most charming of Polish cities! But the time and money that went into rebuilding the old town—all on a volunteer basis, I was told by my Polish teacher friend—is astonishing.

    Did you have any time for museums?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow—I didn’t realize that the old town was rebuilt by volunteers! It is quite well done, unlike some cities like Frankfurt that are well intentioned but end up with old towns that look like children’s them parks.

      We didn’t have time for museums. Which ones would you recommend? We are sure to be back.

      Like

      1. The Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and the Museum of the Jews in Poland (can’t remember the exact name of that one) are both new and excellent for learning about Warsaw and Poland! The Jewish Museum has some amazing exhibits including a reproduction of the interior of a synagogue.

        They both, of course, get emotionally heavy, though the Holocaust is only a part of the Jewish Museum.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A moving post. I want to believe that there is still hope and humanity amidst the chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to believe this too. Creating, building, reforming—-that’s all incremental and complicated. Destruction and terror is just too easy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Can’t agree more.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. i love how short your videos are. Thanks for showing both sides of Warsaw.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want a longer video of the friends swinging together—that made me smile.

      Like

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