Sunday, October 12, 2008

Milking It For All It's Worth

Day 215
Due to a slightly late night I was in bed longer than I had planned. I had a banana and a roll for breakfast before heading out.

Warsaw has a lot of things to see, and I mean a lot. Not only would it take quite some time, but I think that it would be rather overwhelming to do it all in one visit. I am sure that I will be back here at some point and am not going to stress over it right now. The must see museum is called the Rising Museum. It’s about WWII, but focuses on the two months that the citizens and partisans fought for the cities freedom.

In September 1939 German troops entered Poland. Two weeks later the Polish army was forced to surrender. Occupation begins. Right away monuments are destroyed and works of art stolen. Polish government officials and intellectuals are killed. In 1939 Stutthof, the first concentration camp in Poland opens, Auschwitz follows a year later.

Resistance fighters tried to get rid of the Germans from the beginning, but made a big push towards the end of the war. Everyone was suffering from famine and disease. Americans tried to send weapons but were too late, the Russians got weapons through, but airdropped them with no parachutes and most of them were damaged.

After much fighting the insurgents and civilians are forced out of the city. The German army begins a systematic destruction of historical buildings. Only 64 out of 987 were left standing. Few people remain in the rubble until January 1945 when the Soviet Army liberates the city. More than 18 thousand insurgents and 180 thousand civilians were killed.

After the war Poland had expected self rule. This did not happen. The communist government wouldn’t even allow the rising to be discussed and even prosecuted those who were involved. In 1956 this began to change.

This museum was really well done. They had some objects that I had never seen before. There was a house number from the home of a resistance worker and a piece of bread saved by a concentration camp victim. He wanted people to see what he had to eat. There was a monument that ran through all floors that had a heart beat and bullet holes that allowed the sounds of war to escape.

The problem was that it was free entrance day. The place was mobbed. People were really rude too, I would wait my turn only to have someone push me aside to read something. They seemed to think that they were the only ones there. I ended up just leaving out of frustration. Later on I found out that I had missed a floor. I did spend some time on the grounds outside and managed to find a German bunker that no one else managed to locate at the same time.

I was rather hungry at this point and headed to Bar University. During the communist government there were subsidized restaurants that people nick named milk bars due to their dairy heavy offerings. This is the cheapest meal in town and I wanted to give it a try. Luckily they had an English menu, the translation was a bit weird though. I decided to go with something called milky noodle soup and a cheese pancake.

The way this works is that you order and pay and then bring your receipt to a window and the person there brings you your food. It only took a minute to order, but about 45 to get my food. My soup turned out to be noodles floating in milk and my pancake was more of a tortilla. Not the best meal I have ever had, but definitely edible. The cost of this whole thing was a whopping $3.68. That included $1 for a coke.

I had wanted to see the castle but it was closed and I couldn’t find anything with opening hours. While I was walking back I noticed that there was a huge crowd in front of a cathedral, there seemed to be standing room only, I had no idea why. I was thinking about going to the National Museum, but it was late in the day and by the time I got there I wouldn’t really have time at all. I ended up back at the hostel playing around on the internet.

Earlier this morning I had had a weird moment with one of the girls at the hostel. She told me that I had to check out. I told her that I had paid for 4 nights and she said that it must be a mistake. When I came back there was a boy on my bed. Hmm, not totally bad but really unexpected. I went to talk to the hostel people. Someone had made a mistake so I had to move to a new room. I was a bit annoyed, but before I could ask for anything they gave me back one nights accommodation. I didn’t mind moving to a new room for an extra $18 in my travel fund.

After a pasta dinner I met up with Jeanfran├žois. We waited for a while for Martin but he was late and we thought he was standing us up. Later we found out that we missed him by about 2 minutes. Jeanfran├žois and I went to a local jazz place for live music and caught the end of a set. We were both tired and didn’t stay out very late.

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