This is what James
the my Great gave me for Christmas:
Not only was it a great surprise that we were going away somewhere, it was a riddle!! I love riddles.
Unfortunately though, before I figured it out (because it was hard! And my Google skills are waning/I never went past page 1 on any of my searches, because I don’t remember the last time I went past page 1 on any of my searches…), I had a mishap and clicked a subscriber email from TripIt, emails which I NEVER open, when I meant to click something else entirely, and saw that ‘James has a trip planned to Poland’ and before I knew what was happening, it was too late. I didn’t even know James used Tripit!
The night before, I was actually so excited that I couldn’t sleep, so only ended up getting about 4.5 hours before I had to up and shower and head to the airport for our flight before noon on Friday. As we landed, we could see snow blanketing the ground. It was kind of the best because we didn’t have to stay indoors because of wet, freezing weather, but still got to walk around for the weekend seeing beautiful snowy whiteness and hearing the satisfying crunch under our shoes. We settled down at our hotel, (The Warsaw Intercontinental!) in our room with an amazing view of the Palace of Culture and Science:
and got ready and headed out for some drinks and the Polish National Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa. We arrived a bit early to pick up our tickets, so had a pre-show glass of bubbles and walked around. The building was beautiful and ornate. High ceilings, intricate staircases and bannisters, and costumes from operas past on display.
I was also pretty excited just to have a chance to dress up and debut the gloves I bought in Dublin last October, the dress Mummy gave me when I was home for Christmas, and the semi-matching necklace to my riddle bottle that James gave me for our 3rd.
Our seats were amazing and I remembered how cool it is to watch ballet and marvel at the way ballerinas can use their bodies! The ballet was about 2.5 hours long, including the interval, but except for the short period of time during which I fell asleep thanks to my own excitement the night before, I was entranced. It was really good was definitely one of my favorite bits of the weekend. By the time it was over, it was 10pm and we headed to dinner – but more on that elsewhere.
The next morning, we were up and ready for breakfast (with live harp music, of course!) by 9:30 or so. Then, Mr Tour Guide used this great app he found, Triposo, to lead us around the city. We started by going through the ‘Warsaw Financial District’, which, if I’m not mistaken, consisted of 2-3 buildings..then we walked on to pass a state theatre, a church, and then to the only remaining street of the ghetto that still has tenement housing on it:
Oh sorry, actually, before (and after) that, I made James throw snowballs at me in the name of getting a cool pic of snowball mid-air. I kinda failed, so instead I made this gif of two separate tries…just call me Steven Spielberg.
We continued walking, through the snow-laden Ogród Saski, and came to the Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). Just then, it was time for the guards to change, so we got to watch that, and take a couple of artsy pics (N vs J).
Sidenote: as we got a lay of the land, we realized that 3 things were ubiquitous in Warsaw – wifi, dog poo and tiny empty wodki bottles. Take from that what you want.
Next, we headed towards the Old Town, which included the Royal Castle and the Old Town Square. The area has been bombed multiple times and rebuilt. The buildings were all different colors – some painted, some stone; some with art carved into the paint (or stone); others with other painted art on top. It was really cool-looking, but difficult to get a picture showing all the different types. Google it 🙂
Since this was my riddley Christmas present, I guess it only makes sense that it was still Christmas in our favorite part of the city!
So we had a bit of mulled wine, surrounded by decorative lights and Christmas trees (or I guess you just call them evergreens when it’s February…but they were decorated!) and watched the ice skaters. I also asked about a snack on the counters, which was described to me as ‘bread, with fat and cucumbers’ – I did not try this.
After lunch, we did a bit more walking, and saw things like the Presidential Palace. And after all the walking around, I fell asleep for a quick napsky before dinner and really struggled to wake up and get ready for dinner because I’m an old lady, but I’m glad I did because Rozana was definitely my favorite meal of the weekend.
I kept asking James why we weren’t going south at all, but turns out there wasn’t much there. We ended up there on Sunday, when we went to the National Museum and a shop I’d read about. It was a bit more run down than other parts of the city we’d been to and there just weren’t many things open, but maybe that was because it was a Sunday. Our last stop was the Uprising Museum, which was actually quite a walk from the National Museum area. The museum (which we soon found out is free on Sundays) was huge. It was interesting, and obviously historical, but just a bit hard to follow when some things that I knew I would find interesting, eg, letters, weren’t translated into English. But of course, this isn’t something I feel I have any right to go around demanding in countries where English isn’t always the main language! There were also a lot (a lot of weapons), which I don’t really find that interesting to peruse after a while. Nevertheless, I’m glad we went.
And that was it! Dziekuje for reading! (Embarrassingly, the only word I learned)