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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 52.2449, 21.0119
Our last day...
We began with breakfast this morning with Pawel, our B&B host, gathered around a table set for 10. Over locally grown food, he talked with various guests from Ukraine and France as well as us, making sure to engage with everyone. Next, we boarded our third Mercedes van for a tour of Poland's capital city. Even though our guide was difficult to understand, we were able to learn a great deal about Warsaw.
A highlight of the morning was a stop in Warsaw's palace gardens. This was a nice, green space in the middle of a large city with a number of palaces, peacocks, a Greek amphitheater, a monument to Chopin in the middle of a rose garden, and many well kept hedges.
We also toured Old Town and had many things explained to us that we captured in pictures yesterday. Driving around, we were able to see more modern areas of the city as well. We dodged a few downpours by ducking into doorways, but the rain was always short lived. We continued to be amazed with the speed and quality with which Old Town was rebuilt following the destruction of 1944. We learned legends about the
dragon and mermaid of Warsaw, tales of old that continue to shape monuments, signs, and even the seal of the city to this day.
After our guided tour, we took a taxi to the Museum of the Rising, dedicated to the uprising of Polish insurgents during the German occupation in 1944. Definitely a point of pride to Poles, it ended in surrender and the destruction of the city they love in retaliation. It was a story of triumph of will, if not triumph in war. The museum was a bit of a challenge to navigate, but we had enough background knowledge to make sense of its various parts, regardless of the order in which they came.
We then took a taxi back to Old Town for our last supper at Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarnie. It was a fitting meal to partake of Polish cuisine one final time before heading home tomorrow at the Polish crack of dawn (midnight for you readers). We then enjoyed one last walk along the Royal Way and along the way saw some kind of demonstration outside of the Presidential Palace. It was good to see democracy in action, even though we weren't sure what point they were making.
We popped into A. Blikle, a well known Polish bakery said to be Charles DeGualle's favorite, and picked up some paczkis for our early breakfast tomorrow. We can proudly say that on this entire trip we have completely avoided fast food chains.
Today, we saw our 4,221st sushi place in Eastern Europe, and are glad to report that we only went to one, the first time we ate, in Moscow, seeking air conditioning, cold drinks, and burritos (not sushi).
We had an excellent time in all the places we visited, and have no major complaints about anything. The people we encountered were genuinely helpful in their own way, more so that we ever would have expected. Armed with our linguist, our dictionaries and phrase books, Rick Steve's wisdom, and many people who didn't mind speaking to us in their second language and our first, we did quite well. As Rick Steves writes, "Regardless of your journey, you can put a little pilgrim in your travels and find your own personal jubilation."
We are jubilant and grateful for the experience. Thanks for listening.
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