Warsaw, Day 3 – all around town

Late Monday morning I went on a “Warsaw Orientation” tour. We drove around Warsaw in a bus and then walked around Old Town. It was indeed a useful over of Warsaw, so mostly it seemed like I was taking pictures of buildings I would never remember later. But after a week of seeing the same buildings, I think I now have a good handle on what I saw. Actually, by mid-week, I was giving tours! (To my husband and a co-worker.)

Early on in the tour, we drove through part of Warsaw that survived the war because that’s where the Nazis stayed. So the architecture is older.

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We also drove past a number of embassys.

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Blurry shot, but this is a statue of Ronald Reagan:
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Which is right by the American Embassy:
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A church.
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Heading over the bridge across the Vistula River:
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There’s the soccer stadium:
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The river:
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Soccer stadium:
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This is the National Museum. It wasn’t real close to where we were staying so it’s one of the places I didn’t get to.
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More architecture:
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This is the church where Chopin’s heart is buried. We’ll see more of that later.
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The Chopin Family Salon, which I didn’t realize I saw on this tour! I checked it out again the next day. Though I never found the actual entrance. Here’s a description:

“The Czapski Palace, situated in the centre of Warsaw at 5 Krakowskie Przedmiescie, is also connected with Chopin’s family. In the south wing of this late-Baroque Palace, once property of the most distinguished families of Poland, lived Frederic Chopin with his parents in 1826. Their drawing room, featuring the period furniture and the composer’s memorabilia, has been renovated. Nowadays, Chopin Family’s Salon is open to the public.”
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Another church:
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This is Piłsudski Square, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is. You can see the arches and some broken pillars on top. This is all that remains of Saxon Palace, which was, you guessed it, destroyed by Hitler after the Warsaw Uprising. Chopin once played at this Palace. Now it’s dedicated to all the soldiers that gave their lives for Poland. You can read more about it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier,_Warsaw

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Pope JPII said mass here once. That’s why there’s a big cross at one end of it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi%C5%82sudski_Square
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Pope John Paul is very very big in Warsaw (and likely in all of Poland) since he was Polish. Also I heard one story where he made some Communist leader meet with him and after that, things got a little better for the people. So no wonder he’s revered.

This is the Opera House:
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Presidential Palace:
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Another church:
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Statue of a famous poet:
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Here we are with Old Town up ahead of us:
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During the late 18th century, an artist named Cannoletto painted 26 paintings of Warsaw. 24 of them survived the war and were used to help reconstruct the city, Old Town in particular.
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The surviving paintings are on display in the rebuilt Royal Palace. We’ll see them later.

Another church:
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Inside:
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The famous organ:
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The ceiling:
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I did a panorama:
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And here is the start of Old Town. The red building on the right is the Royal Palace. It was rebuilt in the 70s/80s. It mostly survived the war, but was dynamited by Hitler after the Warsaw Uprising. Hitler dynamited a lot of Warsaw after the uprising. Basically, near the end of the war, the Russians were camped out across the river, waiting to swoop in and take over Poland. So the people decided they would try to throw out the Nazis themselves before the Russians arrived. It didn’t go well. And to punish Warsaw, Hitler systematically blew up as much of the city as he could. As if genocide weren’t enough.

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The statue is of one of Poland’s kings, who moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw.
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Interesting building:
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This church was blown up at the end of the Warsaw Uprising – the Nazis drove a remote control tank of explosives into it. *Hitler!* More on this later.
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Here’s a photo of how Old Town looked right after the War. *Hitler!*
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Here’s the market square now. They did a really great job reconstructing it.
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This is the Barbican, the gate and the end of Old Town. After Old Town is … New Town. It’s just the first stuff built after Old Town.
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The wall (reconstructed, of course):
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Barbican:
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Another church:
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This is the birthplace of Marie Curie, discoverer of Polonium and Radium. Winner of not one, but two Nobel Prizes (Physics and Chemistry). Peer of Einstein and every other famous name in Physics. Her daughter Irene also won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie Curie’s research has been used for treating cancer and there’s a big Oncology Center in Poland named for her. (She apparently started it before the War.) They have a little museum here at her birthplace which I checked out another day.
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Here we are on the edge of the old Jewish ghetto – this map shows the boundaries of the ghetto.
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The ghetto was built by the Nazis and they forced nearly half a million Jews into it. One tour guide said they only had 180 calories a day in the way of food. Naturally a lot of people died of starvation and disease. I guess that Nazis decided people weren’t dying fast enough, so they started telling people that there was a city near the Russian border where they could escape the ghetto and be free. So lots of people got on trains to go to this place and were promptly taken to Treblinka and gassed. :-/ Worse, some of the richer Jews paid a lot of money to go to this city that didn’t exist. A few people escaped Treblinka and came back to the ghetto to tell people that it was all a lie. They had nothing left to lose at that point, so they staged an uprising. Which of course, didn’t go well. The ghetto was blown up after the uprising was put down. Which makes it surprising that that one building I posted a pic in one of the last blogs actually survived. Anyway, it’s all pretty horrible.

Here’s where the ghetto wall was.
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This is the Polish Supreme Court Building.
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This is the back of what will be essentially their Holocaust museum. It’ll open sometime next year.
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This is the Umschlagplatz, the site of the train station where all those people were loaded on trains and taken to Treblinka.
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And a memorial to the Jewish Uprising, which is right in front of the new museum:
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And back to the Polytechnika:
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I grabbed a sandwich for lunch and then went back out to explore on my own.

Back across the piano keys:
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Here’s the Jewish Ghetto building that survived the War. This was my first good look at it:
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A church right near it:
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I walked across Saxon Park:
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This is the park right behind Saxon Palace (now, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier):
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The back of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:
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Now, towards Old Town on the Nowy Swiat street. (Of course it was destroyed during the war.) The street marks the “Royal Way” from the Royal Palace down to Wilanow Palace in the south. One of the tour guides said it means something like New World, because the street ran from one of the Communist buildings. And when you face away from the Communists, you face a New World. Or something like that. Here’s the famous poet again – and the handwrought fence:
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Another church:
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Inside:
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The church with the famous organ we saw this morning:
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Old Town up a head. On the right, an observation terrace.
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Here’s the view from the terrace. Down Nowy Swiat:
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Old Town and the Royal Palace:
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Royal Palace:
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The Vistula River and the stadium:
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Royal Palace:
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The mermaid statue in market square:
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The Barbican:
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Wood carvings:
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Marie Curie’s birthplace again:
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This ice cream is so good!
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Interesting church door:
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I bought some souvenirs and they gave me this “Chopin bag” – with pictures of the Chopin statue on it. Get it? :-)
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For dinner we went to this Polish place near the hotel called Folk Gospoda. It was amazing! I really liked the pierogies “russian style” – with cottage cheese, potato and spices in it. Although their cottage cheese is a lot more like ricotta.
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Doug had a lamb tenderloin and fried potatoes which were amazing.
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I had a chicken pasta dish which was also very good:
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I like that the angel is carrying beer:
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Dessert, and amazing berry tart and sherbet:
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A tower of beer!
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