Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Warsaw

Like I wrote in the first post of my summertrip, when I came to Poland in April I liked it so much I decided to come back and see Warsaw in the summer and that was the original reason for me to do the whole trip through the baltic states. Since Warsaw is way bigger than any of the other cities I visited (about as big as Vienna) it took some days to get an impression of the city.


Let's start at the beginning - the legend say there were two mermaids in the ocean - one ended up in Copenhagen, the other one swam down the river Vistula (Weichsel) and convinced a farmer to build a city there - and that's how Warsaw was founded.


First impression was, that it is kind of haunted by the second world war. Everywhere you go you see memorials and statues and museums and leftovers about it. But this is quite easy to understand - 85 % of the inner city of Warsaw were destroyed after the war. Also, the Warsaw Ghetto gained notoriety and the biggest concentracion camp, Auschwitz, was also situated in Poland.


Surely, some cities in Germany might have gotten it worse, but at least they were responsible for their mess - Warsaw definitely had no chance to choose if they wanted to participate in the war. So if you want to remember some mournful facts about the time of the second world war, just go to Warsaw, they kind of conserved what lots of Austrians and Germans seemingly have already forgotten.



There was this memorial of the child soldiers that had to serve in the war, mostly for transporting weapons or food. Also there were lots of memorials that remember of the resistance, like of the revolt in the Ghetto in 1943 or the Warsaw rebellion in 1944.




And then there was the time after the war when the Sowjets were in Warsaw again. The inhabitants wanted to rebuild the city as it was (based mostly on photographs) to conserve the polish culture, but the Sowjets didn't see much sense in that. So they couldn't rebuild all of it. Still, the old city looks mostly as it did before.


 But then there's the grave of the unknown soldier, that is also a memorial of all the people that died through the second world war. It used to be a huge palace, and now that's all that's left of it.



And then Stalin also decided to build a culture palace and tried to adapt it as much as possible to the polish architecture - but still the polish people don't like it and call it "Stalin's syringe" - mostly because they didn't like Stalin, they didn't like his socialism and everything that was connected to it.



Of course, I had also to deal with the heat wave, which is especially bad in a big city because the streets heat up pretty badly. For this reason there were sprinklers set up in popular tourist areas so people could refresh themselves. Furthermore the people were walking around in wells or even the lakes of the parks.



I, for my part, just decided to stay in parks most of the time, because parks have trees and where trees are there is shadow. Also, there are actually lots of huge parks in the city - if you don't want you can walk throught the whole inner city and not leave the parks because they are all somehow connected.




The parks are also quite great to just relax - there are really beautiful spots there. Like in one of the biggest parks of the city one king built a palace on the water. From there you can also do a boat trip on the lake and visit the theater on an island - it is mostly a stage on the island, and the audience watches form the shore on a tribune.



Also, in one of the parks there were lots of squirrels to feed, so I bought some nuts and started searching - and really I found some of them - one was as brave as eating the nuts directly out of my hand which was quite cute.






But also the parks suffered from the heat - some of the lakes were about to dry up, the grass was totally withered and there were even lots of leaves on the ground that just withered and fell off.




What I missed a little was some kind of viewpoint over the city - maybe I am kind of spoiled because we have the beautiful castle hill in Graz, but especially in those warm summer nights there is no better spot to relax. At least I found a spot with a little view over the river and to the beach on the other side - there are quite a lot of beaches on the other side of the river. I really thought about spending a day there.



But then there is so much more to explore in the city. Even the four days I spent here are way not enought and I didn't even visit any museums, just walked around - my step counting app says I walked about 57 km in total the last days in Warsaw.