Warsaw, Poland

Monday: 18 May 2009

As I prepared to leave for Warsaw I found a plug to charge my phone and check my text messages from the day since I have not had the chance to charge my phone. The first message I read was from Mikayla telling me to remember that L’viv is an hour ahead the time zone in Poland.

What!?! So your telling me it is actually 21.45pm right now…the bus left fifteen minutes ago.

I began to panic and went straight to the ticket lady and showed her my ticket and pointed at my wrist watch; frantically worrying that I may have to miss Warsaw and try and find a hostel at this hour. She then picked up the phone, made a phone call and then rushed me out of the station to a taxi and told him where to take me. They asked how much money I had on me and showing them I only have what is equivalent to three dollars the cab driver looked a little disappointed but then nodded his head and opened the door to his unmarked car and I shoved my ruck-pack into the back seat. Driving through the outskirts of L’viv, past fields and through smaller towns; fifteen minutes go by and I start to get a little nervous. With the panic that overcame me I did not even pause to think that I just got in the back of some car with a guy who does not even speak English. I really hope that he is taking me to meet up with the bus; he could be heading anywhere and I willingly got in the back of that car and just went with this stranger. We then approached what looked to be a movie theater with a lot of people and as we pulled around the back of the building be approached the bus. Talk about relief! I was so happy to get on that bus and head back to Poland. I walked down the aisle and got many different looks from those who were on the bus waiting; I was just happy that I did not have to wait for the next bus to get out of Ukraine. My place was located in the back, in cramped quarters and no leg room especially since the seats faced each other and there was only about eight inches in between the two rows. A mother and daughter sat across from me and the girl looked about eight years of age; very kind eyes with a beautiful smile. I settled in and relaxed and not before long I soon fell asleep; a few hours later I was then woken up by a female border patrol officer asking for my passport. She then made a comment in Polish that sounded stern and was slightly intimidating particularly since I did not know what she needed. Someone was kind enough to translate and told me she was unsure about my passport picture and wanted to see an additional id. She was also questioning why I had come to Ukraine for less than 24 hours. I later found out that there are issues with smuggling stuff into the EU (not to sure what) through Ukraine into Poland; therefore questioning those who have short visits across this border is not uncommon due to this issue. They then had us unload the bus and take our bags to be x-rayed and in the mean time they extensively searched the bus. As I stood there waiting I glanced over and spotted an electrical plug and made my way through the cramped quarters to charged my phone. As I waited I called Tibi to let him know where I was and the situation I was faced with just in case anything happened. We then loaded back onto the bus and after sitting through check points for five hours we were again on our way and eventually arrived in Warsaw at 11.30am. I then charged my phone for a little while and talked to Tiberiu for a few minutes; stressed from the long journey to Warsaw I wanted to hear his voice and he has a tendency to make me feel less stressed and always puts a smile on my face.

I then took bus 517 to the Centrum where I walked along the busy and very developed city streets. To cross the streets there are underground walk ways lined with a steady flow of people walking from one side to the next. I ended up passing a restaurant called ‘Green Way’ which had a line out the door and the food looked amazing. I began to walk past it but soon turned around in hopes that I found a good place to eat. Waiting in line for my turn and yet the menu was on the wall all in Polish and no pictures. How will I know what to get? I am starting to understand what it is like for those tourists who come to visit the states and do not know what to order as they gaze at the menu unsure to what it actually says. I then looked at those walking by with something that I would like to try and I stopped a young man and asked if he spoke English; he replied yes and then I continued to ask what he had on the menu. Tort Warzywny, I’ll take it, so I ordered this vegetable tort in addition to a banana shake. It was amazing but very filling.

I then continued to walk and eventually approached a beautiful park that had a large fountain with many statues of Greek gods. In front of the entrance way stood the tomb of an unknown soldier with two guards watching over his resting place. A remarkable formation of flowers with various colors decorated the area around the tomb and many flower bouquets lay about in various assortments.

I found a bench in a remote location of the park and decided to relax and take a nap; as I awoke I felt refreshed after eating such a huge meal. Continuing with my exploration of the city I eventually found the old town.

The exhibition “Co-existence” was on display with artistic billboards depicting various views on the idea of co-existing within our society with those who may be different from our selves. And under these images were quotes, stories and ideas on the subject; very inspirational and was interesting to see. In addition a different exhibit was being displayed in one of the small parks which incorporated numerous aerial images of Warsaw during World War II that were recently recovered. To view these images is heart breaking but Warsaw has experienced a new image and it is a beautifulsight to see despite the amount of construction and development.  I believe Warsaw will be an even more amazing city in the future and I will look forward to returning to see these changes. Before heading back to the bus station I indulged in some of the most amazing fudge chocolate ice cream I have ever experienced. As I strolled along the cobble stone roads the smell of sweets, bread and other Polish foods filled the air; this was only one of the many highlights of being here in Warsaw.

Green Way’ Vegetarian Restaurant: http://www.greenway.pl/

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