Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Warsaw: 23-24 November

We flew in at midday and by the time we got to Old Town at about 4pm (via a pierogi house for a dumpling fix that made me the happiest woman in Poland, they were topped with bacon bits fried in lard) it was already dark and very cold. The main square is stunning, especially in the snow. Polish hospitality is as hit and miss as the Russians, though smiling doesn't seem to be as much of a social faux pas here.
After a quick trip up to the top of the Palace of Science and Culture (Stalin's gift to Poland, which towers ominously over the city at 231 meters -- how Soviet) for the customary panoramic view:
I headed out to Wilanow to see the poster museum and palace (yes, Kat and I actually had our first day apart in six weeks). Unfortunately, the poster museum was only showing the annual student competition (I've seen many, many student posters) and although there were a couple of good ones I was really looking forward to seeing some famous Polish posters (the theme of 'tolerance' produced some predictable Bennetton-style responses, but the weirdest was a silhouette of a donkey doing something nasty to a man with the slogan 'tolerate this'. The palace, on the otherhand, was terrific -- opulant and grossly baroque, the King and Queen's antichambers were particularly awe inspiring. I could have happily lived as Polish royalty.
The grumpy Grandma's patrolling every room and creeping along half a step behind you can be trying, but they're clearly very proud of the contents of their museum, and protective over the rooms they shadow about in. In most of the larger museums, you have to cover your shoes with blue plastic bags, which is practical considering the slushy mud outside, but it makes you feel even more of a peasant wandering through these spectacular golden ballrooms.
Continuing the meat fest, we dug into some great wild boar and pork knuckle, and also found a jazz and blues club near the hostel where I was served a well made White Russian by a chubby version of Colin Farrell. We perched at the bar and listened to jazz for an hour or two, and Kat got chatted up by a guy who looked like my Uncle Henry and aparently wasn't a big fan of jazz music. He kept asking why people were clapping when it was so bad.
I found a strange little "peep show" place (just keep reading) where you sat on a stool and peered through a "peep hole" to see historical photos of Warsaw, mostly being bombed, burned and ravaged during the war.
General consensus seems to be that Warsaw isn't worth hanging out in for more than a day or two, but I think I could easily have spent a few more there and still not seen as much as I would have liked.


astrid said...

more! more! MORE!

Zoe said...

I'm getting there, A, but it's taken me so long to get pictures up!