The toll of travel and the night out led to us sleeping until almost noon the next day. Once we had a chance to freshen up a bit and clear the cobwebs, it was time to partake in a great spread that Marcin had prepared for us. Coffee of course followed by various cheeses, meats, breads, and some sausage were our brunch for this day. Pretty much everything was eaten by the three of us, and all was delicious. After some quick cleanup of the remaining food and dishes, we were off to do more exploring before Kasia’s brother-in-law Wojtek came to pick us up around 4:30.
Today we were going to drive. When we reached Marcin’s car, we found that a sticker had been put on the driver side window. The sticker was to, in not so many words, “thank” him for such a creative parking spot in a manner that is easily noticeable. I will leave it at that.
After driving around town for a bit Marcin found a parking spot near New Town, and after a short walk was right in the middle of Castle Square looking at the Royal Castle itself (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Castle,_Warsaw). Although in the same place as the night before, the sunlight and the large number of people increased the energy felt here. There were school groups, tourists, those on their way to or from business meetings, street musicians of many kinds, vendors, horse drawn carriages, and one young man showing off his bubble making skills. The colors of the buildings illuminated the area almost as much as the sunlight did. The energy here is positive, powerful, but not overwhelming. Of all of the major cities I have visited, I felt a much more positive energy here than anywhere else. I wonder perhaps if it is because this is a land of ancestry for my family and I that I am was feeling this here.
We walked away from the castle along what remained of the castle walls to the right of us. There were many cases of modern meeting history here; behind the lower part of the castle walls one could see apartments with cars parked near them and satellite dishes pointing towards the sky. We came across a monument that showed a child dressed as a soldier and holding a submachine gun, aka “The Little Insurgent”. The statue was inspired by the story of a 13 year old boy named Antek who was killed near where this statue stands on Aug 8th, 1944. The monument is meant to honor the children that fought against the Nazis in the Warsaw Uprising (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Uprising).
While on our walk we came across an outdoor market filled with the aroma of baked and grilled cheese, meats, and bakery items. We sampled some wedding cake while there, which was delicious…it just melted in your mouth the moment it hit your tongue. The grilled cheese on the grill looked like grilled cheese curds for you Wisconsin folks.
As we twisted down the street, which looked exactly like it was taken out of a movie, we went into a handful of churches. All of the churches were of course Catholic and all had breathtaking ceilings and stained glass windows. Anytime we entered a church there was a gypsy panhandler sitting on the floor just inside of the church entrance panhandling. It turns out that as poor and destitute as they portray themselves to be is not fully accurate. Most of these gypsy types are making quite a good living at what they do, though I must admit they had the part down. They fit perfectly within the living movie set that we were investigating on this afternoon. While walking down an alley on the side of one church we encountered a young lady dressed as if she were a princess while a violinist played nearby, case open, and the change beginning to accumulate. It was hard for me to tell how well she was doing, as all denominations under $10 are in coin form ($5, $2, $1, $.50, $.20, $.10, $.05, and $.01).
While on the topic of money, there was a 3.28:1 Zwolty to dollar rate when we were there. Shopkeepers and cashiers always were asking for as close to exact change as you could get; it was as if they got a bonus for giving out as little change as possible. This was a big change for me, as I am a give ‘em a $20 and move on sort of person.
At this point we were beginning to run out of time, as Wojtek was due to pick us up shortly and Marcin had an appointment he needed to get, so we began to walk back to the car. A short time later we were speeding back to Marcin’s apartment. Once we got there, we thanked Marcin for his hospitality and he was off to his appointment. We made a final check of our baggage, took some goofy pictures of each other, and before long the apartment buzzer sounds. Wojtek had arrived.
We struggled our way downstairs via an elevator that could barely hold the two of us let alone our luggage. Without major injury we made it down to Wojtek’s car who greeted us warmly. We put the bags into the back of his car and were soon off to Bialystok for the next stop of the journey.