Warsaw, My Friend

With only a few days left in Warsaw, I wandered randomly around the city, filling in the hours with all sorts of things I’d yet to see and just doing what most travellers don’t get the time to do – enjoying the city at a relaxing pace.

At Słoik, which had became a favourite venue of mine, I ordered tatar when I had meant to order carpaccio – laughing at my mistake and sighing with relief when it came in a deconstructed state so I didn’t have to eat the raw egg after all.

The Marie Curie museum made the list of things to do, though I was rather disappointed in the small and somewhat boring museum. More interesting was her statue, which stands on the edge of Nowe Miasto (the New Town, which is actually now older than the Old Town).

Marie Słkodowska Curie, is one of the most famous scientists in the world, and was the physicist and chemist famous for discovering Radium and Polonium. Marie discovered Polonium in 1898 and it was named after her homeland, Poland. Polonium is of little use to every day life but has been used in a couple of nasty applications – as a trigger for the first atom bomb and in the use of some high profile deaths (does everyone remember Alexander Litvinenko?).

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only woman to win it twice.

Unfortunately Marie died of aplastic anaemia, resulting from the four decades of exposure to radioactive material undertaken during her astonishing career. She was known to carry test tubes of radioactive material to work in her pockets.

Popping into the back of the Old Town’s alleys, I stopped by at the hidden bistro Ukryte, where I was served the most humungous Kotlet I’ve ever seen, washed down with a glass of Polish wine and an awesome back drop of 90’s alternative music mixed with AC/DC rock and a bit of Led Zeppelin on the side.

I climbed to the top of the viewing tower in the Old Town square, taking advantage of the early morning, crowdless streets. It wasn’t a terribly hard climb, and the view over the city once you arrived at the top was pretty sweet. You could see the stadium across the river and out over the Old Town to the Palace of Science and Culture.

Mushrooms were just starting to appear on the menus around town so I couldn’t pass up a meal of potato pancakes (placzki) with chanterelle sauce at Freta 33.

There was fresh lemonade to be tasted in Krasinski Park, served from a little bicycle cart in the serene park grounds.

I explored the streets of the New Town, stopping to view an exhibition pinned along a fence. The photos compared the post-WW2 streets of Warsaw with either pre-war or current comparative images, showing the sheer destruction that occurred in Warsaw during the war.

The New Town (Nowe Miasto) is connected to the Old Town (Stare Miasto) by Ulica Freta, and it’s streets hold gorgeous examples of 15th century architecture for me to admire. Decorative doorways, walls, windows and lightpoles lining my path.

I thought about how different the streets of Warsaw seemed to me since my first visit four years ago, no longer so grey and boring, but so colourful and full of hidden stories. Was it because she had changed so much while I’d been away? Or did I understand her stories now?

Finally though, my last night in Warsaw had arrived. I couldn’t leave without making my way to the Panorama Skybar at the Marriott to savour a goodbye drink, whilst overlooking Warsaw’s growing skyline from forty floors up.The bar was full of beautiful people so of course I felt out of place, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me tonight. This was the country of my heritage and I was gonna enjoy every last moment.

I ordered a Candy Sky cocktail at the bar and headed back to my allocated seat, which was nowhere near close enough to enjoy the view. I was hoping to grab a seat right next to the window so I didn’t feel quite so solo and so I could get some great shots, but it wasn’t going to happen without standing over someone’s date.

The drinks at Panorama are quite spectacular, as you would expect them to be at the high-end Marriott. Mine arrived accompanied by a Persian fairy floss cloud, upon which a solo Ferrero Rocher chocolate delicately balanced. Always a bourbon fan, the Wild Turkey cocktail infused with cocoa nibs, Vermouth, Frangelico and Cherry Balsamico was spot on. The drink seemed symbolic – I was the Ferrero Rocher still flying solo, floating on a cloud of travel dreams, with my amazing cultures left to explore and no longer being afraid to experience new things. I’d come a long way. Just like Warsaw.

Goodnight Warsaw. You look real pretty tonight!

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