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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 52.2449, 21.0119
I am sitting in a Noodle cafe in Warsaw across the road from our hotel on John Paul 11 street. The hotel wanted to charge us $36 per hour to connect but this cafe advertised free internet so we have had a good chinese dinner and an internet session!!!
We flew here yesterday from Glasgow via London Gatwick. The travelling took up most of the day. At 6pm we met with our guide and fellow travellers for our 14 day tour that will take us from here, through the Baltic States to St Petersburg, Moscow and back here through Belarus. Should be interesting. After a briefing we walked down to the "Old Town". In reality most of this area is less than 50 years old as most was destroyed by the Nazis during the war. However, they have made a "miracle" town as our tour guide called it by reconstructing the old area of the city through paintings, sketches and some architectural drawings and photographs and they did it in 11 years after the war!! Simply amazing. We had a nice dinner there in the royal square on a balmy evening at an outdoor restaurant.
However, this morning the weather had
changed. As it was the feast of the Assumption it was a national holiday in Poland. It was also Polish Army day, their equivalent to Anzac Day, so many of the streets were closed off for ceremonies and parades. We had walked past the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier last night but today it was the focus for the ceremonies. The rain though came down in buckets!!
We left the hotel at 8-30am for a tour of the city. This had to be adjusted around the street closures, however, it did give us a great overview of the city. Two of the most important and interesting monuments we were taken to were the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 when the local home guard and citizens in the city tried to fight the Germans hoping the Red army would come into support them. The uprising lasted 63 days while the Soviets sat across the other side of the Vistula river and just watched. No wonder there was obvious dislike for Rusia in our guides' voice.
The second was less impressive but marked the Ghetto where the many Jews were kept and then sent to Treblinka to be gassed. Another impressive sculpture
was the memorial to all the Polish people taken away by the Russians in the last months of 1939 and murdered in various places. It has the date 17/09/1939 on it. We went back later for a closer look and were most impressed.
Our tour was spoilt by the torrential rain and our guided walk around the old city was cut short because of it. We returned to the hotel to dry out but after an hour or so it brightened. The afternoon was sunny and warm. We walked back to New World Street and had lunch at Cafe Blikle, famous for cakes. Gen De Gaulle was addicted to their donuts. We then had a lovely afternoon exploring the old city and enjoying the sunshine.
This is a beautiful city and amazing because it was rebuilt so well. Some of the buildings were recreated using Canelleto's paintings of them. A lovely day in a fascinating place.
(The weather has turned foul again and it is pouring outside. Very changeable)
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