A trip to Poland: July 24 to August 6, 1998
Several days after we were in Poland, we made a trip back to Warsaw for some business that my parents wanted to take care of while they were in Poland. The train trip from Bialystok to Warsaw takes approximately 2 hours and going towards Warsaw the trains were very crowded. During that trip to Warsaw we got a really good feel of what life is like on a normal daily basis for the people. The culture is different but not so different that it seems entirely foreign.
A couple of times I caught my husband (Duane) just staring at people and watching what they were up to, it amused me because he had never been out of the States prior to this trip. I think that he was still getting used to some new revelations, such as the realization that eating out in restaurants is considered a luxury, it doesn't happen on a daily basis. People were eating on the train, crusty bread, deli meats (forms of kielbasa or sausage are truly truly predominant) and vegetables coupled with bottled water (you don't ever drink tap water in Poland, I'm not sure on the specifics but I'm pretty sure that it doesn't go through a purification process). Once in awhile you'll see someone eat pastry but eating isn't necessarily a past time in Poland (like it is here in the U.S), it's more a necessity and it seems the people eat much healthier. I'm really not kidding when I state this next statement, I never saw any truly obese people while we were there. The girls were fairly tall and pretty skinny and the guys were fairly slim as well. Everyone is pretty slim! I guess there are reasons besides not eating a lot, I mean they walk EVERYWHERE and lots of people smoke. Boy, do they smoke!
When we arrived in Warsaw we took the tram to the middle of town. The train station we ended up at was alot nicer than Warszawa Centralny and I felt a little safer here. This was my first time taking a tram (vs. taking the bus) and it was cool, much quieter, very very clean and just a cool experience. Trams run through the major cities in Poland and most tram cars seem newer and more comfortable than the average diesel bus.
We walked around a little, went into the Warsaw zoo for awhile (I'm a big animal lover) especially since it was on the way to get to Stare Miasto (Old Town), which I was really anxious to get to. We walked awhile and had to stop and get some ice cream, the wrappers on the ice cream look like Good Humor wrappers but the name was different (one of our past times was comparing products to what we had in the States--just another way to see what the culture and life is like).
(L to R) Duane, my dad and mom sitting on a bench in the Warsaw zoo.
After hanging out at the zoo awhile we finally headed for Old Town. The tram takes you there across the Vistula River, the area surrounding it is absolutely breathtaking. I'm looking at Warsaw in a better viewpoint today as I'm riding through the older/nicer parts of the city. I should know better than to pass judgement on a city without getting to see it and first impressions are wrong. I was so disappointed in the way that Warsaw appeared that first day, but today I am completely charmed by its' character. Here is a photo taken of the Vistula River from a highpoint in Old Town. This is some people's view of the city from their terrace, there are many townhouses/apartments facing this direction, this photo is stunning when you see it up close, note that this photo does not do this view justice.
Panaromic view of the Vistula River taken in Old Town
To get to Old Town from the tram you have to climb several dozen stairs, as you're climbing the stairs it does not prepare you for the site you encounter as you finally get there. There is this square as the main entry to Old Town, the square is a vast expanse and off to your right is a large castle (on the southern edge). The castle was built in 1644 and largely destroyed during WWII. The castle as well as the remainder of Old Town was reconstructed in the 1960's to its' present form which lends itself to the shape it was in during the late 1800's.
The castle clock, it has a celestial sun in the middle of the dial, absolutely stunning to see
The old town square, outdoor cafes are everywhere! (That's me to the bottom R hand side :-) )