Friday, October 03, 2014

Warsaw, continued

The beauty of continuity! It comes together on an evening like this. (This is the photo where you ask the waiter -- can you please take a picture of us? ...and he smiles and says -- must be a great reunion!)


Yes, it was. These are the people in my life who remind me where I come from. (I'm there: to the left, center.)

This morning, the sun once again surprised us by coming out with a bright and warm face (even as I read that in Wisconsin, there are threats of snow showers this weekend!).

My sister and I set out on a walk. A very long walk. The perfect walk past all our most important places. It starts here, with a nice mix of old and new -- our days and the new days...


And of course, I need to pause to get my daily coffee, so we return to an intimate spot that we both like, just off the main drag, not too far from the hipster hangout....


...and we continue. I post the next pic because apparently this is a bit of a novelty (I'm referring to the comments from the previous post): sunflower seeds sold straight from the flower head. Yes, of course that's the way we always do it in Poland! The joy of picking out the seeds yourself is huge! And to the question -- what about the birds? Don't they pick at the seeds? The answer is yes, but they do minimal damage. Many of the sunflower heads have a few bits missing. So what.


As we walk toward the parks, I mention to my sister that maybe it would be cool to get a sweatshirt from our high school. So we backtrack and enter the building that was meant so much to me once upon a time.  There is a man who stand at the door and monitors who comes in. If you have a badge, you're home safe. We don't have a badge, but he is sympathetic to our question about the sweatshirts.

We go to the school secretary and by chance the director of the school is on her way out. She pauses to talk to us. I explain about the sweatshirts.
It's not something that the school offers. We're not allowed to collect any private moneys at all. It must have been something offered by the parents organization.
We talk for a while. I am impressed at how open and welcoming she is: we're two graduates of the Lycee, here, off the street, asking about sweatshirts, of all things!
She tells us about high school loyalty in Poland, how it is that only now, through the internet, people are coming together to reconnect. She invites us to look around the building and we do.

My sister finds a schedule of classes. She compares it to what we would have had.


Me, I am interested yet again is seeing where it all took place: my own corner of this building where I went from being a young teen to being an old teen. And I am surprised that there is one little detail that is exactly the same as it was in first grade for me in 1959 and was also in place for me in high school when I came back to it  in Poland in 1966 -- the set up of the classroom: it's identical! All those years and it's identical! Three rows, two kids per desk in each row. Perhaps you can catch it in this vague photo (deliberately so).


Well, that was good. More than good: my high school was hugely important to me. Coming back to it is like engaging in therapy: so important to link what is today with what was then!

We walk to the park now. You've seen the pics from yesterday. Imagine another brilliant day where the sun calmed the autumn jitters in all of us! And, too, imagine the red squirrels darting everywhere!


And here's a surprise: out of the blue, in the park, there appears a deer. Where did it come from? We speculate about this. It cannot be intentional. This is a city park! Might it have found a home here after wandering in from the forests to the south of Warsaw?


Oh, I love this park! I cannot express to you how much I love this park!



We leave it and continue along Warsaw's Royal Way. Whereas yesterday,  I could not take you to the "pretty Warsaw," today I can.  We're in the New Town now (which isn't new, but accept the label please -- it's explained here). Note, please, the controversial imported trees in their pots. The hope was that Warsaw would turn green once again here. Critics came down hard: plant the trees in the ground already! This is not right! (Even as it does look kind of pretty...)


We're at the end of the Royal Way. In other words, we're at the Old Town. I could tell you about the history of this place, but I am so hurrying to post this  before the Cinderella hour when I have to leave, so just enjoy it!


Every Warsaw person loves the Old Town Square. It's beautiful and important to us. Really important. (It has to do with the war, and with rebuilding it, and reclaiming it, and using it now...)


Uff, it's been four hours of walking. Time to sit down. My sister and I go to an old place, Pod Samsonem -- it's been in this spot for some fifty years and it sees itself as an old Jewish restaurant, but you could argue if it is really that. We come here when we're tired and hungry and want a pick me up. We order beet soup and herring on brown bread. And tea. In a glass. The Polish way.


And now it's really late in the afternoon and my sister returns to her stuff and I meet up with my most loyal and enduring friend here and she and I take a stroll through yet another beautiful park...


...and of course, we don't just walk. We pause to eat apple crumble topped with whipped cream...


...and we talk. Oh, man, oh man, do we talk!

This day flew by like no other. We say good bye until the next time. (When will we have a next time?)

And I am back with my sister and we talk as well, in ways that would make you laugh or cry sentimental tears, depending on your inclinations.

It was such a good return trip to Warsaw!

I'll leave you with a picture that my friend took in the last park. I'm holding on to a bouquet of flowers that she gave me and jumping between spurting fountains. Symbolic, isn't it?