Experiences in Warsaw

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February 18th 2009
Published: March 12th 2009
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February 18
This blog will be (hopefully) continuous entry about me exploring city of Warsaw. I am Erasmus student here ate University of Warsaw an gonna stay here till June. So plenty of time to explore.
I came here February 16th and the same day we had first Erasmus party, yay! And today I started exploration (not too much though, it's freaky cold here now). In front of KINOTEKA I found this ten all covered with pictures of mummies. Apparently it was exhibition about Egypt. Ive never been to Egypt so I decided to see what they have there. I got a Egyptian guide (as actually none of polish people there spoke good enough English for guiding) and e showed me around. Then there was 10 minutes theatrical play about mummification, one person was dressed as a priest and he did the ritual. The speakers were saying something in Polish in weird voice and the priest had a mask of Anubis, so I felt like in "Stargate" episode, especially as I did not understand Polish so it was same as guauld for me. So it was pretty cool. Then there was a Tutankhamen tomb mock, also pretty nice with some skeletons and dark corridors. Nothing too special but pretty nice as random finding in the middle of Warsaw. (I forgot my camera so no photos of this day

February 21
Mermaid hunt today! Orientation around Warsaw center game. It was fun, but as it always happens I ended up talking to people and did not actually concentrate on places where we were going. So I will have to o my private mermaid hunt.
Also I tried "ponchka" with some rose marmalade. Taste was familiar as we have something similar n Lithuania. But the place where they sold it was cool, special "ponchka" kiosk and lots of people were waiting for it in line, so it was unique cultural experience after all.

March 12
OK, I am really trying to be decent blogger. I am always thinking what would be "blogable" and it is really hard to think when you just experiencing everyday life, especially in such close country as Poland is to me. But I will really try to see things differently and write about it.
So, today I woke up after 4 hours of sleep with horrible headache and no it was not hangover, and no I was not after party. My headache is just because of scattered sleep. So with this all I went to polish lecture where we were introduced to the horrors of the Polish numbers. And it's not my invention that's its a horror, our lecturer was the one to say it. Well I saw that those numbers do look awful in written and also pronunciation is something really terrible, especially to those who have no Slavic language background. I even imagined it all in old-fashion horror movie style and the title "The horror of Polish numbers 2: the revenge". My mind is full of these cliches...
Nice findings:
American Bookstore in Nowy Swiat street. Has some really great books in English.
I also went to coffeeheaven, which seems to be like Polish starbucks. Well I've never been to starbucks and I don't know the prices, but 13 zlots for a cup of coffee seems quite a lot to me. But it was really good coffee - Tiger Latte. So I think I will try out other special lattes there too.
About cultural experiences. We were discussing with other Erasmus about talking in Polish with Poles. Some seem to really try to understand you, like the poor lady I was torturing with my Polish in Zakopane. I told her what in translated would sound something like "Can buy ticket train to Warsaw Sunday hour 10". She was nice as she could be I think... So, and in same time others seem to pretend not to understand you at all. Some sort of ignorance. I don't know if same would be in Lithuania, as I did not hear many tourists making effort to speak Lithuanian (I fully understand them). Well we can only wait and see how will our efforts trying to learn the language end up.

March 18
About today - it was really cold day. It should be Spring time, but the wind made it as cols as winter. And in this weather I went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. As for misunderstanding the distances in map, I had to walk quite a lot, and got very cold and was already hating the museum. But it appeared to be really nice one. It is not made as usual museum and its really appealing. Well there is nothing much to say about that. I will wait for warmer time to continue sightseeing, brrrr....

April 2
Yesterday I was in Museum of Ethnography, where they presented Easter traditions of Polish people. So the three museum ladies were dressed in traditional clothing of different parts of Poland. First they showed this old movie about traditions, all in Polish, but I managed to understand most of it. The traditions are quite similar to Lithuanian - after fasting months comes Easter, the celebration of Rebirth of Jesus, the oldest Christian celebration (with lots of pagan things in it actually). There are special Easter palms that people make from dried plants, as imitation of palms that are in Jerusalem. And they are hallowed in church. In the Easter morning people hit one other with them as sign of health. Home is cleaned and many dishes are prepared for Easter (lots of work for women). The most important are eggs, especially red eggs. This is according the legend that Maria Magdalena in Easter morning saw that all eggs in her home were red, and this was a sign of special event - the rebirth of Jesus. As after fasting month there is a big feast with lots of sweets too. And also eggs are dies in many special ways, just as in Lithuania.
The most interesting part in movie was about tradition of one part of Poland, where group of men dress with straw costumes and go scaring people and they get something to eat (as I saw pancakes) from them. And some people throw water on them and they throw it too. As I understood there is something with purifying about that. But those guys really looked creepy and funny. But I have no photos of that.
And the food was good - soup zurek and cakes.

April 4
The morning of April the 4th was beautiful - shining sun and the real Spring time. Earlier or later people of Warsaw got their heads off the pillows and started the day. Some going to work, some to school, some to university and some took their pillows and went to Metro Centrum Square. Such unusual behavior has an explanation - International Pillow Fight day. Advertised through Facebook, Couchsurfing and other social networks it reached lots of people. Just before 14.00 local time you could see many fighters ready with their soft weapons. Passers by and salespeople around were watching preparations with curiosity and surprise (not so usual to see more than hundred people with pillows hanging around in one place). On the mark of whistle the fight started and Metro Centrum Square became real war zone. After some time you could see first victims of the battle spreading feathers around. Soon all place, as well as warriors, was covered with soft white fuzz. But the fight was getting more and more intense. After around half an hour of fighting, lots of pillows torn and lots of pillow punched received fighters cleaned up the battle field and went home as nothing has ever happened, of course expect of being all covered with feathers.
More info:
Photos, video>>

April 5
Today the biggest heritage from Stalin in Warsaw, Palace of Culture and Science, was in Arabic tune. Kuwaitis were presenting their culture, it included photo gallery, Arabic script presentation, music and their sweets and coffee tasting. For the first time I went into this probably most special object in Warsaw (if its nice or not nice, everyone can decide for themselves). The inside was.. well indescribably normal. We went upstairs and there it was - people walking with Arabic dressing and gallery of pictures.
Polish Traditional SoupPolish Traditional SoupPolish Traditional Soup

Polish ladies with traditional clothing pouring traditional soup zurek for people.
We went into the hall and event had to start 17.00. Not unexpectedly it began half an hour later, but it was all little waiting. From he first tones we felt like we are not in Warsaw anymore, but somewhere in magical Middle East, where people are awakened by call for morning prayer and everything seems a bit like from "1000 and 1 night" tales. Along with local curious Warsaw people, Kuwaitis also were sitting in corner and cheering more and more. Although there were not many people, their cheering made us feel like if there was a big crowd. After some songs we had 10 minute break with food and coffee. And of course everyone liked the free food part here... So after this "10 minute" half an hour break the music continued. Kuwaitis were cheering even more and dancing. It was so catching that even some braver spectators stood up and started dancing (and that really requires some guts when you are Eastern European, people do not usually stand up and start dancing in these events). Eventually me and my friend also joined the crowd. I tried to remember Uzbek dance moves to be at least a bit more close to their dancing style (and from it actually worked, at least that's what they told me). Although just minority of spectators dared to go dancing (while most of Kuwaitis were), it was lots of fun. Joined in music and in dance us from such different cultures all together partly in grumpy Stalin building and partly in Kuwait, we were friends.
Photos, videos>>

In Warsaw one of most special moments was the moving of night buses. Night buses go everyday and I got to use them a lot. Most interesting point - they all go out at the same moment every half an hour. So about 10 minutes before the moment if you are in the range around Warszawa Centralna, you can see people walking fast or even running. They all move to the same direction - the station. In the station itself, people are in groups outside or inside the buses, some of the insiders already napping. Many of them eat kebabs that are prepared all night long. Moments before buses move they all one after another start the engines. Then people start rushing into buses, some try to eat whole kebab or just get on the bus with it. It all smells like kebabs and drunken people, but not too bad. Through the window you can see people running towards the bus, they run fast as they know that as soon as buses move, they don’t stop. And then it starts, one after another buses start to move. Some people still manage to jump into just before the doors close. Those who do not, you can see cursing outside - they are stuck there for 30 minutes. Not too fun if you are one of them, all berating deeply and sweaty from running. Buses spread to different directions like delivering packages, as a matter of fact they are delivering packages, just those are the ones that can walk out by themselves (well not all of them…).

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Kuwait Culture presentation in WarsawKuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw
Kuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw

In the scene they were "fighting" with sword and one of people was rising "a horse".
Kuwait Culture presentation in WarsawKuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw
Kuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw

Kuwaitis spectators came up to scene to dance.
Kuwait Culture presentation in WarsawKuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw
Kuwait Culture presentation in Warsaw

One song brought everyone together.
Green University Librarary Green University Librarary
Green University Librarary

University of Warsaw has a new Library with garden on top of it.
Performance in Old Town Performance in Old Town
Performance in Old Town

The Ghost of Castle or something like that
Free Water in Old Town Free Water in Old Town
Free Water in Old Town

I do not know what was that about, but they gave free fresh clean water there
Lazenki Park Lazenki Park
Lazenki Park

Warsaw's Royal park

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