This morning I’m sitting in Warsaw, and thrilled to be here except for the tiny little wish that I could have kept the weather I’ve gotten used to – I’ve been so lucky with sunny days and 30• heat for several weeks now – and it’s cold here! Thankfully at least the sun is out.
In a few minutes my friends will be arriving to meet me and start another day of exploring the city. Until then I’ll try to get a few of my thoughts written down here.
One thing I love about travelling is how it challenges me to be a better person, by allowing my eyes to be opened to things I may have never otherwise thought of. The other day was a perfect example: I’ve been on the go for a while, and the wallet I’ve been using was already old and worn out. It’s ripped and torn, and missing a zipper. I grabbed my wallet at a cash register and ended up with coins fallingout and clattering all over the place. As 3 people stooped to help me collect my money I made a comment in my embarrassment along the lines of how I needed to get rid of my gross ghetto wallet. And instantly as I heard the words come out of my mouth I was horrified with myself, as I had JUST finished touring through a museum exhibit of the atrocities of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto… I can really be an insensitive ass sometimes…. It never occurred to me that the origins of the word are so awful; it was an adjective I used to sprinkle in my speech as a way of joking about anything I own that’s in less than perfect condition. So that stops now.
Speaking of the museum, anyone travelling through Warsaw should make a stop at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It’s full of detail and wildly interactive, if a little confusing to find the correct order of walking through the exhibits. I wonder if that was intentional… It IS commemorating a period in history full of chaos, after all…
My friends that I mentioned at the beginning arrived, and this part of the post is being written more than a day later than the top of the page was. (Thought I’d better explain that in case I start to confuse you with a mix of past and present tenses in my writing.) So I introduce you to Jeff and Jeanette, two great goofballs and my official guides in Warsaw. Who, by the way, seem to be very connected in the city – in the hours we were out we bumped into different people they knew four times, plus she still has family here. Keep in mind there are over 2 million inhabitants so it’s not just some little village where everyone generally knows everyone else… Jeff joked a couple times about how he could arrange for me to end up stranded somewhere so I’d have an interesting story to write about…. I’m just glad they chose to have their people stand down!! Ha!
During the two days I had in Warsaw, I think we did a pretty decent job of hitting the city highlights. We ate a lot (and you already know my love affair with food!) walked in calm city parks, and ogled the architectural achievements of the city. Oh plus we accidentally wandered into the middle of a political demonstration at night. All of a sudden we were surrounded by a noisy crowd and the lights from tv news vans, and in the time it took us to get to the other side of the gathering the noise had become organized into a demanding chant – we took that as our cue to make a hasty exit before things got out of control.
Back to the food again, where it’s so easy to get a sense of an area’s culture by seeing what may be unique, and being able to contrast that with tastes that are pretty much universally enjoyed. I can’t picture a scenario that would have me choosing to eat raw beef at home, but in order to test out culture I dipped my raw hamburger in a raw egg too! It was kinda good, actually…. At least not awful when I got over the fear of eating it. So far so good – no food poisoning! And on the other side of the scale we have chocolate. Lunch was at Warsaw’s original chocolatier, and cumulated in Chocolate Perogies! Delicious!
Winding down in Warsaw…. Definitely not physically since I was busy the entire time, but this is the end of my European jaunt. I’ve had a blast exploring places I never expected to see, and am already looking forward to (hopefully) having a chance to come back, but it’s back to North America for me again now.