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  • Day3

    A Wander in Warsaw

    June 5, 2019 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    It's always amazing how much difference a good night's sleep makes. When I collapsed into bed last night, the cumulative effects of the long trip over and the rapid changes in time zones had reduced me to a zombie like status.

    Although the room was still uncomfortably hot, and although it was not even 8 pm, I don't think it took me more than a couple of minutes to fall into a deep sleep. The next thing I remember was the room being brightened by the approach of dawn. When I checked my watch I discovered that it was not quite 5 am. By the same token I had already enjoyed almost 9 hours sleep and that was about 2 hours more than I usually get.

    A glance at the pre dawn sky suggested that the day was going to be a carbon copy of yesterday, and that's exactly the way it turned out. I decided to check my emails and try a Hangouts video call back home. What followed was a delightful 30 minute chat with my day old grandson. Although he was fast asleep the entire time, it was easy to see that he was glad to hear my voice. I tried to tell myself that it was almost as good as a cuddle, but obviously it wasn't. Although he had only been born the previous day, the mother and baby had already been sent home from the hospital. I guess it's all just a matter of freeing up the hospital beds now.

    Since it was still too early to go down to breakfast, I spent the next hour watching Polish TV. Although there must have been about 50 channels to choose from, not a single one was in English. Even though I have been in Warsaw for a few hours, I would have to admit that I am not yet fluent in Polish, so I had to invent my own dialogue for each show.

    At 8 am I could wait no longer and went down to get some breakfast. I discovered that some of the others could not wait either and had already raided all the best food from the buffet. The breakfast room was also full with about 30 rowdy school children. In fact Warsaw is currently full of groups of students from all over the country. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Poland gaining independence from the Communists and the schools are obviously marking sure that the young people appreciate that freedom should never be taken for granted.

    After breakfast we formed into a walking peloton and headed south to an incredibly beautiful complex of large parks, the highlight of which was the royal palace by the lake. This was yet another reminder of the opulent lifestyles that the royal families of Europe all enjoyed. For me it gave an opportunity for my favourite pastime of people watching.

    Several of our group sat under the canopy of trees and savoured the moment. For me these moments are the highlights of every trip. I enjoy this far more than visits to famous art galleries or museums and I always find it gives me an insight into what makes each country unique.

    It was certainly the right day for an ice cream and we were happy to find that they cost much less than we would have paid in Australia. After lunch at the lakeside amphitheatre, we started to make our way back towards the hotel.. The temperature had, once again, risen to near 30C and we were grateful for any shade we could get along the way.

    After a short afternoon siesta, I set out again to walk the surrounding streets. Just twenty four hours earlier, the entire city had been a mystery,however I found that I was already feeling more at home. Familiar landmarks showed me the way back the hotel.

    I have already begun to make my mind up about Poland and about Warsaw in particular. The city is certainly clean, the traffic is orderly and the people seem happy and prosperous. The fact that they all wait for the green signal before crossing the roads, shows that they are law abiding. It is also very obvious that they are fiercely independent and value their freedom highly. It is a country that has suffered badly over the past hundred years and the people certainly deserve a brighter future.

    The rest of our group had decided to head back to the old town for a walking tour, however since I generally avoid organised tours as much as I avoid typhoid, I was happy to wander the streets by myself. I eventually found an Italian cafe near the hotel and ordered a pizza.

    A short time later my phone rang. "How are you enjoying your pizza ?" David asked. I wondered how he could possibly know what I was eating. He told me to turn around. Of all the hundreds of restaurants in Warsaw, the others had chosen a restaurant directly across the road from mine.

    The pizza was lovely and so was the freshly squeezed orange juice. The night was still quite warm. It really was a lovely place to be. I asked for my bill and was somewhat surprised at the amount shown on the invoice. It was about half of what I calculated. The waitress explained that she had not charged me for half of what I had as they had "kept me waiting for too long". Now that was a surprise. Warsaw went up a few more points in my rating. I was able to give the waitress a good tip and still spend less than what I had anticipated. I think I could grow to like this place a lot.
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