After a day spent indoors avoiding the extreme 35’C heat we headed out in the evening, when the sun was getting low and the temperature a bit more reasonable. Most days all you have to do is walk out of the door and you are soaking in sweat, sorry to be so graphic! This evening, the same one as the Tram evening in the previous post, we headed vaguely North West out of the flat, past the Tram depot and some lovely allotment gardens, then ended up alongside the train track and eventually stumbled upon what must have been allotments in the past. We discovered beautiful pink Sweet Pea flowers growing wild as well as a few old cherry trees that were offering up some lovely ripe fruits, which we gobbled with smiles on our faces. They were juicy and sweet, with just the right amount of sourness in them. We walked a little more, then the Mosquitoes woke up and seemed hungry, so we did an about turn and headed home.
The local super(cheap)market has started selling seriously strong Cheddar cheese! Amazing! After months of strange pastey cheeses and rather poor imitations of brie and the like I’ve gotten my hands on some lovely proper cheese! Don’t get me wrong, Cheddar has never been my favorite cheese in the world, but at least it has some character and flavour, a very welcome addition to the refrigerator! At last some decent cheese on toast is on the horizon! If only I could get my hands on some Lea & Perrins!
After the cheesey delights we headed out for an evening amble, which I will break up into a couple of posts, as there are lots of pictures. First on the agenda has to be the Tram Depot, where many of the trams have their night time naps. Looking at the second image below you can see just how seriously Warsaw takes the sleep of their Trams, REM level or above only!
Signs of an old Tram line, caught up in an avenue of trees.
Rapid Eye Movement essential!
So, Euro 2012 is over, done and dusted, the victors are the Spanish, who become the first team to have ever secured 3 major international tournament wins in a row. A rather comprehensive 4-0 against the lack-luster Italian side who had seemed so promising in their semi-final game where they knocked out the impressive (if efficiently robotic) German team.
No sooner was the competition over than the big screen came down, the palace lost it’s lovely huge posters and the fanzone was little more than a mere scaffold skeleton. All this by, literally the next morning. Back to the grim looking minibus station and the cars and motorbikes hurtling up Marszalowska…
Well done Spain, and well done Poland and the Ukraine for a successful and great Euro experience.
This post is pretty picture heavy, which is kind of a surprise because, in reality, it seemed to me that there was really very little to see or do in poor old Katowice. The city is pretty shabby and is all over the place, something which is not helped by the rebuilding of the railway station and some of the tram lines in the ‘city centre’ (in inverted commas because it is actually quite hard to tell exactly where the city centre is…)
We stayed at a friend of Marta’s. An old flat that she had inherited and has sat mostly empty for the past six years, meaning it is full of dust and causing some major allergic nasal floods the whole time we were there. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday wandering around the city in the sweltering heat, it was a rather exotic 34’C! Thank goodness for Biedronka and giant cartons of Ice Tea, and their delightful portions of chocolate halva (extremely dangerous)!!
The city isn’t a complete bore though, there are some interesting buildings, from every era, starting with the old German-Bavarian mansions, to the huge UFO of a concert hall from the 1970’s right up to the library building, which seems to be carrying on the tradition of being plonked right in the middle of where you would least expect it to be.
The city is, on the whole a rather poor place, and there are plenty of rather dodgy looking characters unafraid to eye-up your camera and back pockets, but it does definitely have it’s interesting bits that are worth visiting, though try and avoid the hottest days of the year!
Oh, and the trams are a bit like being on a scary rollercoaster (scary because you could fall off the tracks at any point…)
Hot-Dog? Bon Appetit!
The library building
Beware of fire-tailed Goats?
Tea 83, Hot Chocolate (another tea deviation!), A cafe whose name I can’t remember, Warsaw
Happy April Fool’s day (belated)!
Today was, very sadly, my last day in Warsaw. It’s very strange to be leaving, I am still really loving the city and the people here.
We decided to go for a wander around the Praga district, to have a proper look around on the other side of the river. We managed to get one bus all the way from Wilanow to Praga, so that was pretty good. The day was very cold again, with loads of snow once more, but very sporadic with beautiful sunshine in between, very British style weather (though that would probably be rain instead of snow which is worse I think). We got off the bus in central Praga and just began to wonder, the streets and back courts are dotted with murals and Madonna’s, some of which are kept in wonderful condition, whilst others have slightly more bizarre surroundings.
We wandered around a little more, our original intention was to visit the Vodka Distillery, but this is shut at the weekends, though we knew that before we set off. But we got a good look at it from the outside, before heading into an entrance way where I took one photo that then resulted in a slightly fraught conversation with a security guard about the private property aspect and not being allowed to take photos. Marta managed to hold her ground pretty well though, then we made our escape. We wandered around the outskirts of this same area of derelict land, coming around the opposite side we could look through a gate and see what all the fuss was about, but it was all just literally piles of rubble and the remains of one last building. We took some more photos just to spite them!
We then popped to the shopping centre nearby to answer a call of nature. I managed to enter a situation where a man appeared to have locked himself in one of the cubicles and was possibly doing more than his fair share of drugs, the cleaners were calling for security to come and sort the situation.
Managing to escape another strange situation we headed out of the shopping centre and then found ourselves wandering around some more old, old streets. We managed to find an open door to one old tenement which we explored a little, with some beautiful old railings and a butchered bike on the top floor. Then we found a nice little cafe selling lots of cookery books too, and with some great photographic and fashion magazines. So we sat with a hot chocolate and read whilst we waited, in vane, for the weather to improve. Back out into the cold we wandered some more, bought some crisps/chips and then got on a tram back to the old town on the other side of the river.
We got off at the first stop in the old town then made for the University Library building. On it’s roof is a huge garden, which anyone can freely and easily explore. It is pretty cool, even at this time of year when not too much is growing, though it is great to be able to see the buds on the trees starting to bulge with leafy life. We then decided we were getting a bit hungry so we had a look in a few of the university cafeterias to see if anything took our fancy. There didn’t seem to be too much, so we walked for a while along Dobra and in and out of a few shops, a great bookshop/cafe where I managed to convince Marta to buy a copy of Alain De Botton‘s ‘The Art of Travel‘. I hope she will enjoy it! This place didn’t have much savoury food on offer though, so we carried on walking. We eventually made it to a branch of Rue De Paris cafe. This one was decorated pretty roughly with lots of colourful lampshades and bare brick walls, a nicer atmosphere compared to many. We had a Goats cheese tart and a Camembert and Walnut tart between us. These were good, though were a little disappointing when you are literally just presented with a tart on a plate, no salad or garnish even for visual effect!
We ate and people watched for a while then had a slow and relaxed wander back to the city centre and then home.
So, monday was a bit of a write off, the only reason I left the flat was to go and do a bit of food shopping and come back again. So, not much to talk about there, and no photos either I’m afraid.
Straight onto Tuesday then, and a bit more eventful. I started the day with a little trip to Raclawicka again, to show Marta the little second-hand bike shop and to wander around in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day with loads of sunshine, though a bit windy. After a while walking around there, into a second hand shop where Marta bought a lovely red hooded coat with black toggles for a bargain price, we started to head towards town. We popped into a little photo shop to see if they develop medium format film, Marta recently invested in a Holga and has used her first roll of film! She also got her photo taken for her US Visa application. The place was tiny and dark and smelt like many decades worth of cigarette smoke had seeped into the walls. The guy looked like he has propped up the counter for his entire life too.
Back out into the daylight I had a sudden craving for an ice cream, the bright sunlight stirring that primal ice cream eating monster inside us all! A chocolate Magnum made it into my stomach in double quick time, and we carried on walking. We walked through Pole Mokotowskie, and then into the city centre, on the hunt for a launderette for Marta’s new coat. We didn’t manage to find a reasonably priced one before making it to Central Station, where we stood in a queue for ages and I bought a ticket to my next destination, Berlin next monday.
Ticket bought and we intended to get a tram up to the old town and to stop for a coffee in the cafe where I had the great Turkish Coffee, cafe Adi. All the trams were totally packed though, so after attempting to get onboard 3 we decided we would just make the most of the sunshine and walk. We did so and made it to the cafe whilst the sun was still streaming through the open window. It was so warm and lovely in there, and the turkish coffee was really good again. The place started to suddenly get really really full of well dressed pensioners, who were probably waiting for a show at the theatre across the road. We had finished our drinks so we decided to leave.
We then continued our walk, it was still sunny and quite warm so we walked up to the huge monument to the Polish Resistance and the funny multicoloured Pegasus’s ( Pegasuses? Pegasi?? ) that sit outside of the national library and the supreme court.
Then we headed West and ended up on Jana Pawla, where we managed to find a cheap launderette for the coat. We left it there and carried on our walk, south now and back towards the city centre, we stopped off in a few shops in search of some Ciechan Honey Beer, which seems to be in short supply at the minute. Unsuccessful we headed back to the Metro at central, at the minute and until the end of April part of the Metro is shut down so you can only get as far as Central from the stations south and only from Ratusz Arsenal north. You have to get a tram or bus between Central and Ratusz Arsenal at the minute. But this didn’t really affect us, just meant a slightly longer walk, we bought some chocolate covered raisins to sustain ourselves!
Back home via the Marc Pol store, where we successfully got some honey beer, though not Ciechan, but another brand, we ate some food and drank some beer and then the clock decided it was high time we headed for the sack!