Sunday was a day that we got more immersed into Polish life, coming face-to-face with people to learn about Poland in a personal way.
|One of many beautiful Polish churches|
|Joseph trying and failing to fit in with the local Poles|
From staid, conservative Catholicism, we entered the world of loud, proud, evangelical Christianity. This is a new phenomenon in Poland. Our contact was not planned. Hundreds were gathered in the plaza in front of our destination, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but they drew us in with their contemporary pop rock, red shirts emblazoned with “Jezus cie kocha,” and inexplicable waving of world flags.
Since we are Americans and used to such in-your-face religious expression, we walked around them and gathered around Donal for a lesson about the Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the key battles commemorated on the plaques. We strolled through beautiful Saski Park. We found statues representing fields of knowledge, and all the history majors and Prof. O’Sullivan posed in the shadow of their historical muse.
|Smile for the camera!|
|They have legos in Poland too?|
Once there, we discovered another side of Warsaw. Praga is like a city in transition, composed of different types of buildings side by side: decrepit old elegant buildings, concrete Communist-era blocky structures, and modern colorful office buildings. Unsuccessful at finding a renovated Jewish bath house, we did find a building that still had a mezuzah container on the entrance gate.
But the highlight of the day was hanging out with Polish college students from SWPS (Warsaw University of Social Sciences and Psychology).
Four of them had volunteered to meet us in
the college cafeteria, and in short order they offered to show us around Lazienki
Park and the Palace of Culture.
|Students from all corners of the world|
|Man, I look good!|
We saw peacocks, red squirrels, tiny mice with stripes down their back that darted around the bushes, and friendly ducks. Bridges arched over beautiful ponds, and fountains sprayed.
|Waffles, cream, and warm|
toffee sauce - the best!
It was gorgeous, but of course so
was dessert at the café.
We had to hurry to make it to the Palace of Culture look-out tower before it closed at 8 p.m., and we got in the door with 2 minutes to spare. Luckily they let us stay up there (33 floors high) to marvel at the perfect view of Warsaw on the sunny and clear day.
|Stalin's "gift" to Warsaw|
|The spaceship is actually a soccer stadium!|
“Speak to us in Californian,” one of the students asked. This is strange. We have accents? Nonsense. Our English is the standard version! While half of them practiced their English on us, the others spoke Spanish to some of us. What an opportunity it was to meet sweet and friendly people like us who took time to show us around. We all had a great time.
|Seeing another world together|