Saturday, December 14, 2013

I Saw Warsaw - Part Trzy

See parts one and two if you missed them.

I began day two bright and early. I was up by 5:00 a.m., but breakfast wasn't going to be available till 6:30 a.m., so I spent that very dark part of the morning getting online and researching what I would do with my day.

After breakfast, I headed out northward to the tourist information center located at the Palace of Culture and Science. I'd read that there is a "Warsaw Tourist Card" that provides an all-day pass for all the forms of public transit plus access to all sorts of museums and the hoho.

Turns out that it was a three day pass for something like 50-60 zł. Even though it is a surprisingly good deal (approx. $15 - $20 for three days) I started losing interest because I only had one day left in Warsaw. But the kicker was that the card didn't include access to public transit.

I asked the tourist info lady if I could buy a all-day, all-modes transit pass from her. Unfortunately she said no. She explained I could get a transit pass at lots of newsstands.

I mentally prepared myself for a long day of walking. It was all too likely that either I was going to spend a lot of time walking from one newsstand to another looking to find someone who spoke English or I was going to just give up and spend the day walking.

Eventually I did get the all-day pass, but I walked to the Warsaw Uprising Museum first. On the way to the museum, I encountered the building-sized mural shown in these two photos.

Don't know if you can see it, but the puppet-stringed soldiers in the mural are wearing helmets with a derivative of the Soviet hammer and sickle on it. Instead of a hammer, there are two lines which turn the sickle into a Euro symbol. Someone isn't on board with the EU, methinks.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum is far from a happy place, but it is definitely worth experiencing. Here are a few photos from outside the museum. FYI... They fail to capture the experience awaiting inside the museum itself.

It's getting close to time to board my WAW > MUC Lufthansa flight, and I'm tired, so I'll spare you a lengthy history lesson.

Let me just give a few key take-aways...

I knew about the invasion of Poland during WWII. I knew that Germany invaded Poland. I remember the Soviet Union absorbed (a grossly inadequate euphemism) Poland after WWII, but I didn't recall that the Soviets had initially signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany just before Germany's invasion in which they essentially divvied up Poland between them. The Soviets insisted that their action was in reaction to the Germans' invasion. Yeah right.

Another key take-away was the massive loss of life that took place in Warsaw.

But the lasting impression I was left with is the massive scale of the destruction Warsaw was subjected to. If I recall the numbers correctly, 1.3 millions people lived in Warsaw before the invasion. After the war, only 1,000 had homes.

After the museum, I started heading back towards where I'd seen a tram stop. I knew that the 1, 8, 22, and 27 were heading the direction I wanted to travel next, but there was still the matter of a ticket to take care of.

As I headed to the tram stop, I noticed a ticketing machine. Note to self: All of the ticketing machines that I saw in the vicinity of tram stops are surprisingly far from the tram stops themselves. Go figure.

I hopped the 1 and headed north. It was packed, so I couldn't see how far the tram had gone. In desperation, I hopped off the 1 to re-orient myself. Turns out I'd gotten off too soon.

I sat for a few minutes at the tram stop and then hopped on the 22. This tram was less lightly loaded, so I was able to tell when to exit the tram.

I stopped off at the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery.

This cemetery is massive and it is packed with graves. Stopping at the Jewish cemetery right after the museum was quite poignant.

The cemetery was mostly deserted. Cemeteries can be quiet peaceful places. Under the gloomy overcast sky and with stories from the museum fresh in my mind, this cemetery was unnerving.

I've got to go catch my WAW > MUC flight, so I'll wrap this up for now. There's more to come in part cztery.

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