Saturday, December 14, 2013

I Saw Warsaw - Part Dwa

In case you missed the first part of this blog post, I'll catch you up quickly. I was standing on the inside of the the Barbican and was about to walk out through its gate. It was 4:00 a.m. (i.e. The time I was writing, not the time I was standing at the gate), and I needed to get some sleep before my flight home today.

I didn't get to bed for another thirty minutes, and I awoke - reluctantly - at 6:00 this morning. Ugh. I could have slept in - my flight isn't till 1:00 p.m. - but I wanted to get to the airport to talk face-to-face with Lufthansa about letting me use my system upgrade. There's more to the story than that, but I'll spare you the details.

So here I am in the lounge returning to this blog post but operating on a piddly two-ish hours of sleep. Cross your fingers that I can be coherent.

I continued walking southwest outside the wall. After a while, I came upon a statue I'd seen during my Internet reconnaissance before I departed the U.S.

The statue is Mały Powstaniec (a.k.a. The Little Insurgent).

I'm embarrassed to admit that my first reaction when I saw a photo of the statue online was to think, "Aw, how cute." I saw this statue of this cute little kid wearing a comically over-sized helmet, and it looks like a kid wearing a funny hat. Then I noticed that he's holding a rather large gun. Ha ha funny juxtaposition.

But the subject matter of the statue isn't funny. The statue is a monument to the child soldiers who fought in the Warsaw Uprising (not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). While I was back in the U.S. doing my research, I quickly realized my initial reaction to the statue was wrong. Seeing the statue in person and learning what I learned about Warsaw's history during WWII further reinforced my understanding of the statue.

I continued on my meandrous route through the old town.

I ended up on ulica Świętojańska. There, side-by-side stand Kościól Jezuitów (the Jesuit Church) and Bazylika archikatedralna św. Jana Chrzciciela (St. John's Archcathedral).

I have seen photos of both that were taken during daylight hours, but I have to say that the lighting at dusk combined with the lights on the outside of the churches makes for much more interesting looking photos.

One thing that struck me about these two churches is how very different they are architecturally even though they stand side-by-side.

As I walked back towards Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square), I came upon the following view of St. Martin's Church:

I love the lonesome solitude of that photo.

When I returned to Plac Zamkowy, they had the full light show on.

The tree and the gift wrapped boxes below it were still lit up. But now the light show included snowflakes (click on the photo to see it larger if you can't see them) cascading down the walls of the west wing of the Royal Castle.


Once again, here's the same photo all bling'ed out, compliments of Google Auto-Awesome.

It was a beautiful sight, and people were standing around mesmerized by the sight.

Off in the distance I could hear caroling. I headed off that direction, and that's how I ended up getting the video of the caroling. If you're interested, I wrote a brief blog post about the video.

From Plac Zamkowy, I zig-zagged my way to Plac Piłsudskiego (Pilsudski Square). I crossed the square to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Standing guard at its eternal flame were two members of  the Representative Battalion of the Polish Army.

By this point, what little sunlight I'd seen during the overcast day was a distant memory. As I continued zig-zagging back towards my hotel, I used my internal compass (a dubious plan in the winding streets of Europe) supplemented by sighting a landmark to navigate.

I came upon Kościól pw Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints' Church) located at Plac Grzybowski 3. The church was dimly lit.

What little light there was was shining on a bronze statue of (whoops I forget who).

While I love the convenience of having a fairly decent camera in my pocket at all times (i.e. my iPhone), low level lighting situations like this one are not where the iPhone shines.

I knew that the lighting conditions were suboptimal, but I loved the lighting and wanted to try to capture the scene.

As you can see from the photo above, it turned out better than expected. I hadn't anticipated being able to pick up the vibrant colors of the offerings placed before the statue.

But as pleased as I was with the photo above, I was even more surprised by the photo to the right.

I instinctively knew that if I took the photo from in front of and below the statue, it would create a different sort of feel because the statue would be towering above me.

And with my naked eye I could see that the columns were going to add an interesting perspective to the photo.

What I completely failed to intuit or perceive at the time is the shadow that the statue was casting. Even though it was right there before my eyes the whole time, I didn't see the ominous shadow.

That's sort of a metaphor for life. How many times have I completely missed something that was right before my eyes? Countless times, no doubt. Fortunately they're usually not ominous.

The landmark that I was using to navigate which I mentioned earlier is the Palace of Culture and Science. Completed in 1955, it remains the tallest building in Warsaw.

Provided the cloud level doesn't drop too low, this big, imposing building makes a great landmark because it is visible from far away.

I composed this photo to emphasize the details of the building and to focus on the colorful lighting. My photo, however, doesn't capture the building's sheer massiveness. See the previous link for a photo that will give you a better feeling for the size and architecture of the building.

I don't know how tall the other "tall" buildings were at the time the Palace of Culture and Science was built. It was completed only a decade after the end of WWII, and given the state of ruins that Warsaw was left in, I suspect this building must have seemed even more massive to the Poles then than it does today.

 I capped off my day with a stop in Złote Tarasy (the Golden Terraces). My eye was drawn to it earlier in the day because of its unusual roof. See the previous link for a photo.

Once I stepped inside, however, it quickly became apparent that Złote Tarasy is actually Polish for "inexplicably mobbed mall on a Thursday night".

I popped off some shots of the glass ceiling from inside, but the most memorable photo I took was of what I shall henceforth refer to as the Escheralator. There is something distinctly Relativity-esque about it.

I count at least five levels, each askew from the others.

That brings me to the conclusion of day one of my two-day miles run to Warsaw.

In the next blog entry, I'll show you the sights from day two.

No comments:

Post a Comment