It looks like Saturday nights are going to be my nights out in Warsaw. While my schedule is wide open, Gina’s schedule is a normal work week. On this Saturday I headed out early to meet Gina at Być Może, a small cafe and bakery, about seven kilometers from my place. I decided that walking over would be good exercise, and I could always come home on the tram. I headed out of my neighborhood via Jana Pawła II street, following the Google map directions, which I had already downloaded to my phone.
One thing I would recommend that a nomad always do is download the offline maps for each city they are in. I removed the download as I leave each city. I have T-mobile’s plan, which gives me unlimited 2G data. I have found it good enough for email, texts, VOIP calls, and using Google maps with the downloaded map. I especially find it useful to use Google maps to make sure that I get off of at the right tram stop.
Not far from my pace I saw where there had been an accident. The sidewalk was covered in oil absorbent clay and deep tire ruts pointed at a rather sturdy looking pole. A few lanterns and flowers had been placed at the bottom of the pole. I learned that when lanterns are left at an accident site, as seen in the photo below, it is the same as when crosses are left at accident scenes in the US.
While Warsaw doesn’t have the rich tradition of graffiti like I saw in Cuenca, there are a few pieces, like the one below, which catch my eye. Due to the size of the mural and how faded the paint was, the photo doesn’t do it justice. The whole face of the building is covered with images of marionettes dressed as EU soldiers. Their helmets bear Euro symbols that have been altered to form hammers and sickles. The symbols on their uniform collars are dollar signs. The strings of the marionettes lead up to the roof, without the puppet masters being seen.
The above buildings just caught my eye as I walked past. There are so many new modern buildings in Warsaw, that the old fashioned ones stand out.
I took a photo of the plac Unii Lubelskiej traffic circle before crossing over to the restaurant to wait for Gina. Later as we came out I took the photo below from the other direction. The two small white structures were once gates were you had to stop and present your papers before entering the area. One of them now house a sushi place.
I arrived at the restaurant too early. After going in to make sure Gina wasn’t early, I waited on the street for her to show up. I was looking something up on my phone when I was approached by a woman, who asked me if I could look up the exchange rate between british pounds and Polish złoty. She spoke with an Australian accent and seemed to be about my age. Since my phone was tethered to my wrist by a lanyard, I didn’t worry she was trying to rip me off. I did keep my cross body purse shielded under my hoodie.
I used the XE Currency App to find the rate for her. We talked for a while about exchange rates and how much currency she should be carrying in addition to her credit cards. It wasn’t long before we began to speak of our travels and our backgrounds. When she started sharing too much with me about her past life, I started the process of ending the conversation politely. I about had myself extracted from her when Gina came up.
The woman, sensing a fresh victim started in on Gina. Gina quickly began the process of politely ending the conversation, as the woman immediately began over sharing. (I have to wonder if I make people that uncomfortable sometimes with my openness.) Eventually Gina had to drop the politeness, and drag me into the restaurant. I was very thankful.
Soon we were sitting down to Zurek soup and bread. Zurek is a traditional Polish soup. It has a delicate and extremely palatable sour taste. The taste comes from sour leavening of fermented rye flour and bread crumbs. There is also a boiled egg and sausages in the bowl. The bread is ordered separately, and you are charged for it. It was well worth the price. I took the rest of my half home and had it the next day.
After we finished out soup we ordered coffee. I also had a slice of pavlova. It was very tasty, but it wasn’t pretty, so no photo. Gina doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so I finished it myself. It will actually work out well that she doesn’t care for sweets, she will not be egging me on to get desserts to share.
After our late lunch we went walking around the city, with Gina acting as my tour guide. We hopped on a bus, which took us across the river. That was not where we wanted to go. Another bus got us back on the right side. We walked for a while more. At one point we stopped and had a beer.
There was a crazy man on the street outside the cafe. I think Gina was worried how that reflected on her adopted city. I was mentally comparing it to Honolulu, where it would have been several homeless encampments with more than one disruptive crazy person. I find talking with Gina so interesting, that I often forget to take photos. She stopped to take a photo of the flowers below, prompting me to take one.
Gina walked with me towards my place until she was too tired to go on. She took the tram back to her side of the city and I continued walking. I went past the express market near my place intending to pick up some fruit and bread. They had closed early, or perhaps they had been closed all day, since it was the saturday between good friday and easter. It was nearly 10pm when I got home. I was surprised to see that my watch showed that I had burned 1109 calories that day. Checking my miles, I found that over the course of the day I had walked 14 miles. I slept well that night.