Have you ever arrived at a party and realised that no one you know has arrived yet? But there’s a free bar, so you grab a drink and mingle?
Lesson learned: the mingling bit is significantly harder when you’re in Poland, and everybody else is speaking Polish.
Nevertheless, I had a great and productive two weeks in Warsaw. As most people know, the city was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, but the modern replacement which rose from the ruins is a lot more attractive than the Soviet brutalism you might imagine. Meanwhile, Old Town is quite astonishing as a monument to rebirth and reconstruction.
Other highlights included ordering French food with Steven (with a horrified “that’s not French…” reaction when it arrived), museums to the Warsaw Uprising and Jewish History, and my artificially-engineered multi-stop journey home on the last night just so that I could try the underground system. (Clean, bright and purple, with trains arriving every few minutes, if you were wondering.) I also enjoyed a walking tour which ended in free vodka shots – and very refreshingly cold they were too!
As a wonderful bonus, Katie and I also spent one of the weekends in Prague. Everybody always says Prague is beautiful, and it didn’t disappoint. After taking an overnight sleeper train – which I will always find inherently joyful and thrilling, especially when there’s no messing about with passports or border controls – we took a walking tour to take in all the main sights. And man, this walking tour was good. Our guide, Karel, was engaging and charismatic, and a perfect introduction to the city. (A city no less charming for the fact that beer is literally cheaper than bottled water.)
After a ‘Premium Economy’ upgraded flight back (oh ye gods of yield management pricing), I arrived back in Chicago in time for another Groupon Summer StreetFest. And a heatwave. As April and I laboured over a game of giant Jenga, it felt more like a military exercise…
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