Saturday, 25 May 2013


When people think of Warsaw they generally think of some snow covered communist wasteland. I know that is what an intelligent well-educated Japanese visitor thought when I had to take him around the Polish capital a few years back.
Those interested in history will maybe think of the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Polish Uprising and the city being totally destroyed by the Germans as the Russians looked on and smiled with misanthropic glee.

If ever a Phoenix rose from the flames it must be Warsaw. Using paintings of the old city centre painted by Canaletto hundreds of years ago, the old buildings were carefully restored. In fact some locals dared suggest that as Canaletto used artistic licence to make his work more attractive, the new Warsaw, the Warsaw re-born was even more beautiful than the original.

In the distance you can see the football stadium where they held the 2012 Euro football championships. Many holier than thou Guardian readers were most upset that there was absolutely NO racist violence whatsoever that they could look down their noses at.

Curiously there is a Thai restaurant in this gatehouse.

Not all traces of communism have been obliterated however. Here is some fat old Babooshka growing potatoes next to her dilapidated apartment block,

Nowy Swiat means new world. It used to be the heart of Warsaw. Not sure if Warsaw necessarily has a heart. It seemed pretty dull to me.

This reminded me of that building in Saigon. Unfortunately it was the Sofitel Victoria and it was my hotel for 2 nights.

Warsaw now has skyscrapers a plenty. But they built them away from the old historical heart of the city.  Someone told me that they are largely unoccupied but they look good and make Warsaw look like a major financial hub and not at all communist. Stalin's gift has not yet been torn down though.

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