The only other time that I can remember visiting Warsaw was back in 1994, the day my family flew out of Poland for the unknown life in Los Angeles. But that would never count as actually visiting Warsaw so I was happy to have a day to spend walking around our nation’s capital.
We started off by taking the subway, the only subway thus far in Poland. There are jokes floating around that it’s called “Metro” because they can only build one meter per year; for some reason the politics involved are takings its toll on the subway system. But being a public transportation junky it was great to see it in action. Once back on the surface we walked towards the center square where the statue of a mermaid stands strong.
The mermaid, armed with a sword and a shield, has been the coat of arms of Warsaw since the mid 14th century. I’m not quite sure exactly how scary it was then to an oncoming enemy, but it’s fairly impressive to see today. From there we walked towards the presidential palace, and then to the grave of the unknown soldier. Thousands of soldiers in the history of Poland have given their lives for the freedom we have today, with many soldiers unaccounted for, their names known only to the people who never saw them again. There are always guards posted next to the grave symbolizing their sacrifice.
We continued our tour towards the Warsaw University, where the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus stands next to the science building of the university. The Wedel choloatiere I wrote about was next, and we ended our day with an evening in front of the Palace of Culture and Science; a gift from the Soviet Union to Poland that was the tallest building in Europe in 1955. It was originally called the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, but that name’s long gone now. We ended our day about the capital with a bottle of wine and a game of Scrabble, the Royal Baths of Warsaw where on our list of things to see the very next morning.