Warsaw: April 17, 2019

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Warsaw c. 1950, still witness to the massive World War II destruction of the city. Northwest view of the Krasiński Gardens and Świętojerska Street.

By Zbyszko Siemaszko, photographer of Central Photographic Agency (CAF) in Warsaw – The book: “Warszawa 1945-1970”, Publisher: Wydawnictwo Sport i Turystyka, Warszawa, 1970, page 76-77, Public Domain

One thing I can’t really get away from living in Warsaw is the sad history of World War II. I added the photo above to show just how devastated the city was after Hitler’s Troops got through with it. Keep that in mind when you view the photos of modern day Warsaw, in this and upcoming posts.

Taking advantage of the good weather to wash windows.

I am living in an apartment block, or I guess I should say, apartment oval. The lanes of Stanisława Wyspiańskiego divide to form the oval. The street seems to be named after Stanisław Mateusz Ignacy Wyspiański, a polish playwright, paniter, and poet. My apartment is tiny, but quite modern.

The apartments are arranged around the outside of the oval, and a small park and children’s playground are in the center. It is a very peaceful neighborhood, filled with trees which are in the middle of spring budding. Across the street from my apartment is a school. This morning I looked out my window and saw that one of the workers at the school was washing the widows and window sills.

Later as I walked around town, I noticed that several other people were washing their window sills a well. It made me wonder if perhaps wednesday was traditionally window washing day in Poland. I tried to search the internet on the subject, but only found things on how to clean windows or window cleaning services. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could specify on search if you are looking for services, goods, or information?

Well, with the weather being good, and having no intention to wash any windows. I headed out towards old town. The object of my walk on this day was to get a better look at the brick fortifications, the Warsaw Barbican, which I had noticed on a previous walk. The distance round trip would close my rings for the day.

As I was walking through one of the several parks I pass through on my way to old town, I saw a soccer game taking place. I was quite a distance away, but was able to use zoom to get a good shot through the bars of the fence. It reminded me of a podcast I heard recently which pointed out that when you root for a sports team, you are just rooting for laundry. That is, you are rooting for the uniform, not the player. That makes sense, seeing how many people turn against their heros when they change teams.

On a technical aside. I just found out that I can ask Alexa to spell “makes sense” or “root for” to make sure I am getting the right spelling for a homophone. I also just asked my Apple Watch what the weather was today and got a great readout from the Weather Channel, though I don’t have the Weather Channel app installed on my watch.

There are a lot of interesting bits of ironwork around town, like this light pole. Hey, a polish pole!

I never really like to see a gang of police cars, no matter what country I am in. Though on this day, the police vehicles in old town didn’t bode evil, I still didn’t like them. One of the things I liked least about living in Honolulu was the incessant filming of movies, commercials, and TV shows. When you are exhausted and walking home, the last thing you want to find out is that you have to detour blocks to get around a filming area.

No one stopped me, so I walked straight through the filming area and found a place to take photos were I could leave the hoards of tourist out of my shots, as much as possible. It seemed as if they were on a break, from filming a WWII movie.

There was on sign like this on the side that I approached from.

Finally I made it to the barbican. As I walked around the structure and then on to walk along the old city walls, I noticed that the brickworks were not defensive structures, but ornamental. The crenellations were too low. The arrow loops were not beveled. There were no machicolations. There was once a time when I would have walked around these brickworks and not thought twice about the construction. That was before I got hooked on the Youtube castle videos at Shadiversity.

What remained of the barbican.

By The original uploader was Piotrus at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2050791

On returning home and doing a little Wikipedia research. I found that the barbican was reconstructed in the 1950s after its WWII destruction, only using 17th-century etchings for reference. It was not needed as a defense structure, so it was only restored as a symbol of its past.

A modern statue of a knight.

I walked following the city wall around until it disappeared. I came across an impressive building I learned was Royal Castle. It too is a reconstruction. Laying in an area alongside the Castle is the remains of the original Sigismund’s Column, with the original statue of Sigismund on top. There is a restored column in Castle Plaza. I didn’t go into the museums in this area. I am not really into museums at the moment. I did see a lot of mega tour groups following their guides.

I did note one improvement of these tour groups. The guides now wear headsets and broadcast to earbuds their group members wear. It is nice to be able to walk past them without hearing the guides shouting. It also lets the group spread out a bit, so that it is easier to walk past them. Before they formed a tight knot around the speaker, acting as a oh too effective cork in narrow lanes of old cities I have visited.

I should have taken the time to get a long shot of the castle, but I was most fascinated with the tower.
Castle courtyard
The Castle after destruction. (I think that is the clock tower.)
By Unknown, scanned by Polaco77 – Scan – Lileyko Jerzy, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, Warsaw 1980, ISBN 830100603X, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2773492
Tour group trailing after a flag-bearing guide in Castle square.
I thought love-locks were cute in Paris, but I am seeing them everywhere I go, and I know that they damage the structures they are fixed to.
The shaft of the Sigismund column made of pink Italian granite, erected in 1887, destroyed in 1944
The statue of Sigismund now is on the new column.

As I was exploring behind the castle area I was approached by a woman, who tried to speak to me. I told her I spoke only english and moved off. Though not looking like a gypsy, she gave me the sense that I should put some distance between her and my purse. I walked around the castle, not wanting to double back and pass the woman again. Eventually I found a stairway leading back up to old town.

There were two strolling couples, going the same way, who’s path kept crossing mine. When we got to the stair’s I sprinted up, just to put distance in between so that I would not hear their voices. For some reason, I don’t like hearing people speaking behind me. In front of me it doesn’t bother me, but behind it does. Actually it is any noise, like high heel clicking or skateboards rattling, which bothers me.

I saw the building above and noticed that there was more of the building below the level of the street I was on. I walked around until . got to the lower street and took a photo (below) of the other side of the building.

By this time I was getting tired and hungry, so I headed home via the grocery store, taking photos of things that drew my eye as I went along. I found the decorations over doors to be quite interesting. This time I had to find a way around the movie filming area. I guess they had started up operations again.

In addition to the more traditional decorations above, one building that had very modern sculptures set into a wall (five photos below.)

Modernistic sundial
Someone set a crown of flowers on this one.
A line of lamps on a hotel.
This graffiti eye did keep me from banging my head on this tree knob.

As I was cutting through the city so that I would be on the road to the supermarket, I saw the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East, which commemorates the victims of the Soviet invasion of Poland during World War II and other repressions. It is between the lanes of the road, but is easy to get to. I wanted to get up close and examine the images on the railroad ties, but that seemed like walking on a grave, so I didn’t. I later read that each tie displays the places from which Polish citizens were deported from, for use as slave labour in the USSR, the names of camps, collective farms, exile villages, and various outposts of the gulag, which were their destinations, including the mass murder sites used by the Soviets.

That put me into a rather somber mood for the rest of my walk. By the time I got to the supermarket, I noticed that my fingers were swollen. This happens when I have either sweated out too much salt, or I haven’t been eating enough salt. I reminded myself that I needed to make sure I salted my dinner.

Categories: Poland, Travel, WarsawTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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