As May was drawing to an end, I really didn’t feel like going to a museum, but I needed to get some exercise, so I walked down to Saxon park to get a better photograph of the statue I had photographed walking back from the Royal Castle.
It was as I suspected. In was another monument to Maria Konopnicka, who was a women’s rights activist and well as poet, novelist, children’s writer, translator, journalist, critic, and activist for and for Polish independence. The style of her dress and the book on her lap were the giveaways.
I decided to sit on a bench and just enjoy the spring weather. It was such a nice change from all the rain of the last two weeks. I sat on a bench listening to a podcast about maximizing frequent flyer miles, while I people watched.
I needed to go grocery shopping, so I headed towards the big Carrefour at the mall. Google maps gave me three routes to choose from. I picked a road I had never been down. It was a quiet residential street. Near an apartment building I noticed a little gadget (above) to make sure that no one parks in your parking place. You just unlock the padlock, lay the bar down, and pull into your place. Below is the parking lot of a government building with a bunch of the gadgets of a slightly different form.
The parking sign above instructs the driver to park halfway onto the sidewalk.
Wow, I really can’t believe June is here already. I am heading into my 10th month of traveling the world. I was all ready to goof off all day when I got a message from my friend that she was going to have an early dinner at Mokotowski Bar Mleczny, one of the famous milk bars left over from the communist days of Warsaw. After a little back and forth on the messages, we determined to meet over there at 4pm.
It is an hour and forty-five minute walk from my place, so I had to dash out, putting off my planned shower until the next day. I programed the location into Google before leaving. Google has some trouble in Warsaw. There are huge distances between buildings downtown. The roads are wide. Alongside the roads are trolly tracks. Flanking all this are extra wide sidewalks. I have seen some sidewalks here that must be fifty feet across. These wide open spaces freaks Google out. As I walked down the side of John Paul II, which I needed to be on to make my turn, Google was determined that I must be on the wrong road since I was so far away from the path it had calculated. It kept trying to get me to cross the very wide street and follow along its route.
I really wanted to exit the map app, to stop all the chatter from Google telling me to turn here, turn here, but I would need it for the last stretch where I had never been before. I knew that there would be a point where I was walking on less expansive streets and Google would stop bugging me to behave myself. My friend had encouraged me to take public transit over or ride one of the rental bikes.
I had thought about the bikes, but I had as yet not ridden one. I wanted to take one out in the park to try it out before getting into bike lanes near car traffic and heavy foot traffic. I am glad that I walked on this day, because, had I not walked I would not have seen an interesting bit of street art.
The bike lanes here are clearly stenciled. As are the sidewalk lanes for pedestrians.
As I was walking down one street I saw a third lane painted in, between the pedestrian and bike lanes. which had not been there before.
It took me a moment to see that it was a person with a cell phone not paying attention to the bikes and pedestrians. Several people, who moments before, had been hurrying down the sidewalk, stopped along with me, and took photos. We were the ones who had to take our phones out to use them. The people on their phones walked past unseeing.
Not far from the milk bar I was stopped in my tracks by this striking statue of Jan Matejko. Jan Matejko is referred to as the most famous Polish painter or even the “national painter” of Poland. I am not sure why there is a fool at the base of the statue.
I got to the milk bar just about the same time as my friend. She helped me order, soup, cutlet and beets. The way the place works is that you order and pay for your food at the cashier. Then you take the receipt to a window of the kitchen and wait for them to make it. My friend had me pay for my soup and main meal separate, so that I could eat my soup first then go get my hot meal.
The soup was baby beets. It was just as good as it looks. I found it charming how every soup bowl in the place seemed to be chipped.
The cutlet was huge, the big flatware makes it look a lot smaller than it was. Of course much of the cutlet was gone before I remembered to take out my phone and snap a photo. It was pounded thin and crisply fried.
I only now noticed the saucer with the beets was also chipped. This is a seven inch salad plate, not a four inch bread plate, and this was my serving. My friend had a plate of her own. The whole meal cost 15.8zt or $4.15 USD. This isn’t low quality food. You would be hard pressed to find such quality in any place below a fine dining restaurant in the US.
After such a large meal we both really wanted to walk. So we headed toward a waffle place, which my friend had heard was good. It seems that people here in Poland are almost as crazy about waffles as the Belgians. We had to pass through Piłsudski Square on our way to Waff’love.
There was a stage set up in Piłsudski Square. It seemed that an orestera was having a practice session before some sort of religious presentation. It looked like there was an image of St. John Paul II in the center of the stage. I think that it was a celebration of two things, Children’s Day in Poland, and the anniversary of John Paul II speaking in Piłsudski Square. All his pilgrimages to Poland seemed to have fallen in June.
The waffle place looked very promising when we got there, since there was quite a line. I was hungry enough when I got my waffle to eat it, but had I not been hungry, I don’t think I would have bothered. If the waffle I had at the Antwerp Zoo was a 10 and Waffle house pecan waffles were a 4, this one might have just made it to 2, but it was really closer to a 1. But hey, you never know if you don’t try.
After the disappointing waffle we went and had a half a liter of stout to take the taste out of our mouths. I am surprised I didn’t take any photos in the bar. It was quite something to see. Paradox Cafe sci-fi & fantasy asylum, is the bar I dreamed of in college and never had.
In has the atmosphere of an English darts pub, but rather than darts and skittles, there were board games and tabletop role playing games. The back room has large tables covered in green felt where a few young men were rolling dice and moving their miniatures around. Out in the bar, people were playing old fashioned board games while enjoying their cold beer.
My friend and I took our glasses of Murphy’s Irish Stout outside to a table which had a reservation sign on it. The time listed on the sign was well past the time we were there, so we sat down and enjoyed a little people watching as we enjoyed the brew.
My friend walked all the way back to the mall with me, since she needed to do some grocery shopping before Sunday. On certain sundays here, all the stores are closed. Not every sunday. It is compromised they came to sometime in the past between those who wanted the stores open on every sunday, and those who wanted them closed every sunday. It was funny, the shelves were nearly empty of all fresh products. I really liked seeing that, now I know that the foods I get are really fresh since they won’t be there after closing on Saturday.
Sunday was another hermit day for me. I had a nice time hanging out, playing games and reading. With plenty of food in the house, I wasn’t worried about the stores being closed. Today, monday, I could no longer put off trying out the Veturilo Bikes. I decided that the Kepa Potocka Park would be the best place to get used to riding them.
On my way to the park, I walked past the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. It always makes me wonder way so many of the churches here in Warsaw have double spires? It was fitting that as I was taking this photo a nun walked past. Here the nuns wear habits, so they are a lot more noticeable than in the US.
You might get the idea that they don’t take care of the parks around here, from the photo above, but this growth popped up after all that rain. All over town the ground crews are working hard to catch up. There are so many parks.
One reason I chose this park was because I knew that it had a large rental bike stand. To rent a bike you go online, set up an account, and download the app. When you get to the bike stand, you scan QR code on the bike with the app and that unlocks the bike’s front tire from the rack. Your account is then charged.
If there is no parking place when you are ready to leave the bike, you can use its lock and lock it to something near the station. Above is one locked to another bike. After I rode around for a half an hour. I returned the bike. I could have ridden for another half hour for the 1zt I paid through the app, but I figured that it had been so long since I rode a bike I should stop while I could still walk home.
Not that I went home. I walked around to the Bar Kępa Potocka and got a pint, I mean a half liter. What is better than a beautiful park to bike in, but a beautiful park to bike in with a cozy beer garden, with a pleasant bartender.
After having my beer, I walked back home, going through another park. I knew that the Park Stefana Żeromskiego had a little restaurant in the middle. I went that way hoping that they served ice cream. On such a lovely spring day, it just seemed like I should have ice cream. The bar I had just came from, had soft serve, but I wanted real ice cream.
On the gate to Park Stefana Żeromskiego I saw the sign above. I was surprised to see this sign. I was sure I had seen people sitting around in lounge chairs drinking beer near the restaurant.
When I got to the Prochownia Żoliborz, restaurant, I didn’t see any ice cream, but I did notice beer taps. I guess you just can’t bring in your own into the park. I like the use of old wire spools and shipping pallets as outdoor furniture at the restaurant.
Since I saw no one eating ice cream, I decided to head over to the ice cream store near my apartment. It always seemed to be busy, so I was hoping that the product was good.
These little gray mops are the same flowers as below (a photo taken some weeks ago.)
Emotions run high here on politics. Most of the political posters are defaced. When I googled the information on Lech Kaczyński, the president of Poland who died in the aircraft disaster, I didn’t read the article about his life, only the one about the plane crash. Later I noticed that the man on the political poster above looked like the late president. I thought it was just a slavic thing, but in listening to a podcast today, I learned that Lech Kaczyński was the twin brother of Jarosław Kaczyński, the former prime minister and the chairman of the PIS party. Jaroslaw is in the photo on the political poster.
The Lodziarnia “Ulica Baśniowa” ice cream shop is a whopping 300 meter walk from my place. The ice cream was worth the walk all the way from the furthest park. It is the best ice cream I have had since Italy. Actually it might be better than the ice cream in Italy. Now I know why on most days the tables there are filled and people are sitting out on the grass. Lucky place to have my apartment!
Between me and my new love Lodziarnia “Ulica Baśniowa” is a very good package store, Prohibicja, which means Prohibition. (My apartment: location, location, location.) I stopped and picked up a bottle of Cava. Why? Does one really have to have a reason to have a bottle of Cava in the fridge. You never know when there might be a Cava emergency.