Annie Bananie en Europe

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Wandering in Warsaw

There are places that I travelled to, primarily not because I really wanted to see the place, but because someone I knew wanted to go but couldn’t. It’s not a gesture to brag by saying, “Look, I’m where you want to be!” but more like…”I’m fulfilling one of your wishes on your behalf, though I really wish you were here with me.” The first place was Luxembourg. I think my uncle meant it as a joke and picked Luxembourg randomly on the map of Europe, but when he told me, it just stuck with me, and I went as my first weekend trip away from Belgium.

The other place was Warsaw. Whenever I asked my dad if there was anywhere in Europe he really wanted to visit, he’d say Poland, specifically Warsaw. I don’t know if there was any particular reason, but I think he had the impression that Poland is a good representation of the Eastern European countries, if he could only pick one.

Well, my dad still hasn’t gotten the chance to go to Poland but alas, I knew I had to go and see what it was about Warsaw that attracted my him. So I went for a weekend in 2017 and, for the first time in my life, photographed a streak of lightning and saw a peacock spread its feathers. Of course, these are only two of many reasons why the two days in Warsaw left a deep impression in my memory. After almost four years, I am blogging about this trip from recollection, so a lot of details may not be accurate. But this will be a reminder to head back with my dad in the future, to fulfill his wish for and with him.

Palace of Culture and Science, a prominent landmark in Warsaw. Dark clouds were approaching and a storm was anticipated, so I had to dash quickly to get inside before I got soaked. There was a viewing terrace at the top of the building where I enjoyed a panoramic view of Warsaw in the midst of a thunderstorm

Same building viewed from a different angle, lit up in rainbow colours during the night, after the storm. I mistakenly thought that this was the building known as “Stalin’s Birthday Cake” but that was actually the Academy of Science in Riga, though they do look similar.

The old town square in Warsaw looks like any quintessential old town square found in almost every city in Europe. Don’t get me wrong, it is very pretty, especially on a nice day under blue skies. Ironically, unlike Bratislava, Warsaw didn’t come off as melancholic…or “blue”.

Quiet morning after the rain, with not-so-blue skies this time (a day after the previous photo).

I quite liked these carvings on the walls of the University of Warsaw Library (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie, or BUW). There were actually eight panels and it took a bit of research to find out about the two pictured here. On the left is the score for B-Moll Study by Karol Szymanowski, a Polish composer (source), and on the right is Collatz conjecture algorithm coded in Pascal (according to Reddit).

I thought this was just a random sculpture of a mermaid with a sword and shield but apparently the Mermaid of Warsaw is a symbol of the city. She appears on the city’s coat of arms and there are various sculptures of her across the city, the one in the photo standing next to the Vistula River by the Świętokrzyski Bridge.

And here is a silhouette of a unicorn and a girl on the “unicorn well”, next to St. Kazimierz Church in the New Town. Apparently the unicorn had been on the coat of arms of the New Town, according to Wikipedia, again. I’m quite stoked to be learning so much, after four years, about the symbols that appear in these images that I took without much thought. Pretty amazing the amount of information you can find out there by Googling “Warsaw unicorn”…

Chillin’ in the park, under the shadows, in the sunlight. Of course that wasn’t me in the hanging cage (is there a specific name for that?) but I wouldn’t mind switching with those folks… 😉

Time for some food!!! I was looking forward to dining at Rózana in Warsaw because I’ve heard great things about it from various sources. After sitting down, I decided to get the roasted duck, which was described to be “served on apple and forest cranberry sauce with potatoes and fried apple”. I love a good duck dish everywhere I go, and while this one was nice, I couldn’t help comparing it with the duck roast that I had in Prague. As a result, the Polish version appeared a little underwhelming because the one in Prague was just sooooooooooooooooooooo good. A bit unfair I know, sorry!

Pierogies, or dumplings, are perhaps Poland’s national dish and if not, they are still massively popular. There are restaurants specialized in serving pierogies, Zapiecek being one restaurant chain that can be seen all over the place in Warsaw. Obviously I had to try some, and I went for the mixed pierogies with Ruthenian dumplings (cottage cheese with potatoes) and dumplings with meat and cabbage. The dumplings were served with a very greasy but flavourful bacon gravy. I was surprised to find that these dumplings were quite similar to the Chinese pan-fried ones (pot stickers). Would I get them again? Why, certainly I would!

Of course, the trip wouldn’t be complete without cabbage rolls, or gołąbki, as they’re called in Poland. There’s something irresistible about cabbage rolls but I didn’t know that I was getting it when I ordered. “Polish gołąbki” on the menu didn’t mean a thing to me (gotta order something mysterious once in a while) and I was surprised and glad that it was indeed a cabbage roll dish, which was oh-so-delicious!

Always carrying my best travel buddies, Mr. Nikon and Boo from Mario, with me all around the world. It would have been nice to share the lovely food with some good company but my dad wasn’t there at that time and I hadn’t met Mr.ZJ back then, so some trips such as this one had to be completed alone. That didn’t stop me from enjoying a nice beer with the gołąbki, ha!

I left out one place that I will write about in the next entry and that is Łazienki Park, which was probably my favourite place in Warsaw (out of the limited number of places I visited). Lots of green coming up in the next post!

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