Warsaw, Day 2 – Palace of Culture, Łazienki Park

Sunday was Doug’s free day so we did some wandering around Warsaw. We went to the observation deck at the Palace of Culture and Science and then to Łazienki Park (pronounced closer to Washinski).

As further proof that they take their Chopin seriously in Warsaw, here’s the “zebra crossing” or crosswalk right across from the Palace of Culture. How cool is this? Piano keys!!

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Some more views of “Stalin’s Gift”:
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There’s a movie theater in it!
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The mermaid is the symbol of Warsaw – which is kind of cool. There are several mermaid statues, one in the market square in Old Town, and another (which I didn’t get to see) down by the Vistula River. That statue was made just prior to the war. The girl that modeled for the statue was shot on the 2nd day of the Warsaw Uprising (I think she was an ambulance driver) which gives that statue even more significance.

Warsaw recently hosted a big soccer tournament – and they had one of these mermaid statues for each country!

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Here’s the view from the 30th floor. In this direction is the Vistuala River and near the center you can see the soccer stadium:
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The Marriott. Mitt Romney was staying there while we were there. I heard some story from someone at the conference that they couldn’t get off their floor (6) because Romney was on the same floor and there was security everywhere.

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More construction:
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Yikes – looks like some weather coming in. We hadn’t brought an umbrella, so after we were done here, we went back to the hotel to grab one.
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Here you can see the line of construction for the new subway.
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Near the Palace of Culture we spotted our first sign of the old Jewish Ghetto. The wall around it ran here. More on that later.
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Back over the piano keys!
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Since we were near the hotel and starving, we had lunch at the Greek place again, so we could try some of the other things on the menu that looked good.

After that we headed over to the Polytechnika, which was where the conference was, so we could check in.

The main Polytechnika building is actually really pretty (I have pics of it later). Here’s inside:
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A nearby church:
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After a long walk we finally made it to Łazienki Park. One of the big attractions there is the Rococo “Palace on the Water”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%81azienki_Palace It was used for parties by the last king of Poland, in the late 18th century. Isn’t it pretty? According to wikipedia, “During World War II, the Germans drilled holes into the walls for explosives but never got around to blowing up the palace. Afterwards the palace served as a barracks.” :-/ They did destroy some of the original artwork though.

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There are peacocks on the grounds, but we only saw two:
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And some shots of the interior:
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I love this gown. Stripes AND polka dots!
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Self portrait!
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Right next door is Myślewicki Palace. Note in case anyone else goes here – you can apparently get a ticket for both palaces and the orangerie for a discounted price. The lady we bought tickets from was really unhelpful and we didn’t realize, so we ended up paying a little more. It was kind of frustrating. There apparently was an English menu of what you could buy, but it wasn’t showing the first time we were there, it was only in Polish. Since we were obviously confused about what kind of ticket to buy, I don’t know why she didn’t point us to the English screen of text. But whatever. Myślewicki Palace is a really cute palace. It too survived the War.

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The floors in both palaces were so pretty – they were all different and intricate inlays.
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I believe this is a bust of DuBarry.
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This is a traveling library!
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Mr Tumnis?
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The Little White House, apparently for the King’s Mistress. You couldn’t go in though.
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Water Tower:
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Which was decorated with cow skulls!
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Next, the Old Orangerie:
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In the Orangerie is a rococo theater! It was gorgeous.
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I tried to do a little panorama:
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At the top are painted audience members!
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Next we walked up a big hill to the top of the park where there is the famous statue of Chopin. They have concerts here. You’ll see a piano right next to the statue:
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A statue of Liszt:
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Warsaw’s mermaid on a pillar:
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We had dinner at a nearby cafe. It was our least favorite meal of the trip, though it wasn’t bad. I had a shrimp pasta dish that wasn’t very exciting, though the shrimp were well done. This Polish soup was interesting:
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And the tiramisu we had for dessert was outstanding:
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And that’s the end of Day 2!

As a last note, I’ll mention that there was a telescope store right next to our hotel which we thought was really cool!

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