One Day in
PROLOGUE. I booked my flight home for the holidays on
LOT Polish Airlines, Kyiv to
ARRIVAL. I arrived at the
We sat down at a café.
We had coffee and juice while we discussed possible plans for the day,
but I noticed that there were slices of pizza and donuts that could have come
THE CAR RIDE. Monika (who speaks very good English; Igor only knows the word “hungry”) explained that we would be riding around town in Igor’s work truck, and he was a little embarrassed about that. I said it was fine as long as I had a seat. (The last time I was offered a ride in a van it entailed sitting in the back on a crate; I declined that offer.) What Monika didn’t mention is that all three of us would be sitting in the cab. Actually, four of us—Monika and Igor’s dog, Jacko, was in the car. Monika called it a French poodle but it was actually a boxer.
Monika explained to me in a roundabout way that Jacko has a gas problem. I don’t remember her exact words, but I know the meaning was clear without her having to tell me that “Jacko” was short for “Jacuzzi”. She was highly amused by the situation; I started thinking it would be okay to sit in the airport for a few hours in the afternoon.
We walked on and fed more squirrels until we got to a monument. It turned out it was a just a monument to a horserace. We walked on further and found an amphitheater where Monika said there are concerts in the summer. The stage is reportedly surrounded by water, but all we could see was snow and ice. Up ahead was a palace (not the official royal palace, but a palace nonetheless). We chose not to walk on because it was very cold out and the palace was closed. (It turns out many things are closed on Mondays).
STARE MIASTO. We drove
back to their apartment so that Monika could drop off Jacko. Then we took a tram to Stare Miasto (
Slightly to the left of the
Monika asked if I was hungry and if I liked fast food. That was how I was led to try the Polish fast food snack zapiekanniki (?)¸ a long piece of bread topped with melted cheese, onions, and ketchup for 3 zloty (less than 1 dollar). It wasn’t bad.
After our snack, we walked further into the old town quarter. We found more cobblestoned streets with amazing buildings. Monika pointed out that in olden days, merchants and businesspeople had paintings on the exterior of the houses to indicate what their work was. For example, a building with a picture of a painter on the outside was probably the home of a painter.
We saw a fortress built for World War II, and then went into an antique shop so that Monika and Igor could buy Christmas gifts. From there we backtracked to a second square, and went inside a restaurant. Monika and Igor each had a Polish beer called “EB”. I tasted it and wanted to bring a bottle home. But I had already ordered café au lait (very good) and a mushroom soup with homemade noodles. The noodles were just okay, but the rich mushroom broth and sour cream were excellent.
As we walked up, we noticed there was a skating rink in
front, part of the “
We went around the corner and saw a giant butterfly decoration on the building. Monika explained that here there was a museum with live butterflies in it, and that one new butterfly hatches from its cocoon every hour. But Monika said it would take an hour and a half to see it, and we only had 45 minutes. But I thought it was worth a shot, if it wasn’t too much money.
With student discounts, the price per ticket was 10 zloty
(about $2.50). We got in, and it was
only one room with a net. Many of the butterflies and other insects in the room
were dead and mounted. But there were a few butterflies that were flying free
around the room, or perched on nets and plates of food. So it was still kind of
cool, but Monika insisted that it was not worth 10 zloty. She commented that in
Anyway, the price of the ticket at least included a ride to
the 30th floor, which had an observation deck. Monika said the view is better at night. I thought it wasn’t bad in the daytime,
except for the thick layer of smog.
Monika didn’t think it was smog, but I’m an
I didn’t make it to the Warsaw Ghetto as I’d originally
planned. Monika and Igor didn’t know
where it was. And from what I can tell
from the guidebooks, there isn’t that much left to see. But I got a glimpse of the beauty and day to
day life of