I remember the capital of Poland from The Pianist, which is in my opinion one of the best WW2 films out there.
I've played piano pretty much my entire life, so seeing how Adrien Brody's character suffered not only at the hands of the WW2 injustice but also from being away from his instrument, I can quite truthfully say that I almost cried when Szpilman started playing Chopin's Mazurka in A minor.
|Everyone, on three: sob.|
|The Warsaw Uprising monument on Krasinskich Square|
Warsaw is a city shaped by its scars.Despite its difficult past, it's clear that it has come a long way. Today, it is very much a liveable place, with all the creature comforts that one would expect of a global city. The summers are comfortably warm, with people out on the streets under blue skies walking in between crayon-coloured buildings. Without the many monuments to WW2 victims, you might not ever know that this place was once the scene of massacres.
My German fellow Couchsurfer Ozzie and I set out on a hunt for the perfect pierogi, a Polish dish of stuffed dumplings that are first boiled, then either baked or fried. A summer day in July is perfect for just such a hunt.
I love seeing interesting adverts, especially if they involve upcycled materials. So when Ozzie and I were walking around and came across this advert van, I just had to take a picture.
We wandered down some tree-lined streets leading up to beautiful gates. (It's almost like Warsaw had to double her efforts to look pretty after being destroyed in all those wars.)
It turns out that 'authentic' pierogi isn't really a thing - in Poland, they're as common and widespread as fish and chips. (Imagine the embarrassment when we were trying to ask around for 'real' pierogi. Typical tourists!) Ozzie and I finally headed to Zapiecek, a restaurant chain that is well-known for having kickass pierogi at really decent prices.
Zapicek is super cute - it has a really homely atmosphere, with servers dressed in Polish costume and every restaurant decorated the way you might expect a grandmother's house to be. It looks and feels almost like a fairytale grandmother's house, which makes it all the more fun to be in.
After having a very Polish meal, we had fun hunting down the most Polish name that there was. (The name is "Stanisław", in case you're wondering.) And it's so typically Polish that we even found streets named Stanisław.
If you're a chocolate connoisseur, listen up: there's a Polish brand of chocolate called E. Wedel, and it's got an entire chocolate factory in the centre of Warsaw. Yup, that's right - a whole chocolate factory! Where there are chocolate factories, there must be cafés, and it was here at the Warsaw E. Wedel factory that I had some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had.
As if having hot chocolate next to a chocolate factory isn't enough, it's even better that the heavenly smell of chocolate wafts through the air around the factory. It's like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory come to life!
|That chocolate! That whipped cream! What more could you want on a summer afternoon?|
It's clear that Poland is full of people who are as stubborn as they get. Complete rebuildings of cities are all in a day's work for these guys. I guess that's what you get from being a part of a country that's forced to toughen up from endless war and suffering, and that's what makes the Polish some of the most admirably resilient people there are out there.