07/29/2011 - 07/29/2011 63 °F
We ate together again this morning, and I packed a couple of extra rolls, meat, cheese, and bananas just in case the buffet on the train wasn't a meal (and it wasn't). The 6 hour train trip started out as a novelty but soon wore off after the 5th 10 minute stop on the tracks because of construction on a high-speed rail (ironic, I think so). When arriving at Warsaw, we didn't know what to expect because all we'd heard from the Polish community is that Krakow is so nice every time we mentioned Warsaw. Chris and I, however, were quite taken with our first view of the city with the towering Palace of Culture and Science (reminds me of ghostbusters for some reason). After checking into our gorgeous hotel, Polonia Palace, we went on for a bite of burritos at the seamingly admired Mexican joint down the block. The chips were stale, the beef burrito had chewy steak, and the beer was fine. The menu said it all, if you can read the inscription. Maybe we should have done fine dining at the McDonalds instead. Burning off the calories was easy on our, get this, 6.5 mile hike around the town, yes, at 6:00. Let me show you the sights (Griswald style, as Taylor suggests). First was the Saxon Gardens' huge fountain next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (huh, we aren't the only ones with such a thing), policed by two guards stiff as statues. The whole walk was specifically for 4 monuments of the era of WWII and the Polish Jew massacre. Before we got to the first monument, on the ground was the mark of the Ghetto Wall, where the jews were isolated by the Nazis. The first monument was the Monument to those Fallen and Murdered in the East. It was a depiction of a rail car with crosses and a track etched with names. Check out this "beautiful" shot at dusk. Next came the Umschlagplatz Monument, the site of a former railway siding. It was here that 300,000 plus were carted from the Ghetto to camps. Next to last was the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto , showing the struggle of the last in the Ghetto as it was torched in total. Finally we came to the Pawiak Prison. This is were Poles and Jews were arrested by Germans. The tree has obituaries nailed to it. We had a sombre walk home, but it was a good history lesson.