I arrived in Warsaw at around noon and zipped through security and immigration and onto a train which got me into the city centre speedily and without incident. I did a bit of reading up before leaving and knew where i planned to roam around. Of course, upon leaving the train station i promptly set off, quite confidently, in the wrong direction. Walked for about a half an hour before i realized something had gone wrong. No matter though, i got to see some of the more ordinary parts of the city, filled with traffic, cafes, milk bars, and kebab shops.
Once i had my bearings i walked up the lovely Nowy Swiat (street), lined with cafes, churches, palaces, the university, and oodles of inviting cafes and eateries. There were certainly people about but the streets weren't particularly lively as it was pouring rain and windy. A winning combination. First purchase: an umbrella. Nevertheless, the walk was lovely. The churches were filled with worshippers and three of them had weddings underway, so i watched for a bit. In each case, the bride & groom sat on chairs, which led me to believe that these are long ceremonies. I didn't stay long enough to find out how they ended.
One church stood out for the fact that it (allegedly) has Chopin's heart in an urn inside one of the columns in the nave. I was disappointed that it was not on display in a box, like something out of Snow White, but it was cool anyway.
At the end of that street it opens up into a beautiful square in the "Old Town". I am using quotation marks because this part of the city was decimated in WW2 and then later re-built and restored, painstakingly, into an exact replica of what it was before. So it isn't technically old, i guess, or at least not entirely, but it really is beautiful. Wonderfully open squares with outdoor cafes are surrounded by colourful buildings, often ornately decorated with design or paintings of people and animals. Of course there are countless places luring you in with their pastries, vodkas, meats, and dumplings.
After walking for quite a while (and getting quite soaked in the process) i cozied up inside a warm eatery with wooden...everything, and lots of books lining the walls. (An observation: there are still tons of bookshops here. Awesome.) i had a plate of golden pierogies and a cabbage salad, washed down with a pot of tea. Perfect rainy day fare.
After that, more walking, including poking around in an antique store filled with soviet and WW2 odd and ends, where i picked up an (allegedly) antique, wood-lined, silver cigarette box with a skull on top of it - with a cigarette in its teeth. There was no way that wasn't coming home with me.
This really was just a Warsaw sampler. There are so many wonderful looking museums and areas to explore, but i only had 10 hours, and there is still the airport to factor in. I spent the last hour or two in the most perfect cigar lounge, settled into a leather chair with a Bolivar Belicoso Fino and a Punch Limited Edition torpedo, watching the rain and reading. There were some other guys in there, but they were in pairs, talking in hushed, conspiratorial sounding Polish, so i didn't make any new friends.
I then confidently got on a train back to the airport, with just enough time to spare and rode three stops before i realized i was on the wrong train and did not know any words in Polish to assist. After drawing a picture of an airplane and something that was intended to be Chopin (after whom the airport is named) for a foursome on my wrongly chosen train, much to their amusement, they pointed me in the right direction, and, well, here i am back at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Georgia.
I'll be back here for a sequel to this Warsaw whirlwind next Sunday, at which point i should have a better idea of where i am going.
On to Tbilisi!
But first, a few more photos: