Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stare Mesto, Warsaw

The road from Krakow to Warsaw, can only be called a highway if you think in medieval terms. It's mostly one-lane and bumpy as hell, with many vehicles making outrageously foolhardy overtaking moves. The countryside is not much of a distraction: as historians frequently note, Poland is essentially one big flat chessboard for conquering nations to swarm across with their armies.

Most of central Warsaw was obliterated during World War II. After the heroic but tragic uprising of 1944, Hitler ordered it razed to the ground, block by block. What you see today in the Old Town, is an elaborate recreation, using as many original bricks and decorative items as possible, which gives it a slight flavour of Disneyland.

We found a nice B&B in an area known as Zoliborz, a corruption of the French jolie bord, or beautiful [river] banks. Unharmed by the wartime destruction to the south, this house would be older than all of the buildings in the rebuilt Old Town.

Dinner in the 15th century New Town (also reconstructed) on Ulica Freta, where Marie Curie was born.

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