Warsaw Day 2.5 – Rain and Warsaw Rising

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It’s hard to throw an actual day on this, since my sense of time’s all messed up after losing a day traveling. I was very surprised to learn today is Thursday.

As I feared, I woke up at 2 am last night and was wide awake. I had a killer headache and had to employ the best headache remedy I know: hot peppermint tea and a mindless social game. I finally got tired enough again to go back to bed, slept for a few more hours, then got up, scarfed some hotel breakfast (Nothing too adventuresome on the buffet here. I guess I’m getting used to seeing herring for breakfast. Wait–I take that back. I just remembered there were bottles of something that perhaps was liqueur next to the cereal.) –and headed north.

The idea was to ignore the rain that spit down on me every few minutes, and not tax my fuzzy brain overmuch. I made it to the Old Town square which was full of pretty, multi-colored buildings dating from the 13th century.

It was also full of school kids. Lots and lots of school kids. Busloads of ‘em were running, yelling, jumping and taking selfies with the statue of King Sigismund III. Their hormone-fueled antics were set–with a marvelous incongruousness–to the sound of classical music brought to us by this guy who was tearing it up on the accordion.

Passing through the Old Town availed me of buildings with cool architectural details (loved this one housing a museum dedicated to Madame Curie) and weird juxtapositions of past and present (like this amazing iron door leading to–shudder–a Subway).

I crossed a bridge through the barbican (a modest-sized brick fortification surrounding part of the town) and jumped when some adolescent boy screamed from a few blocks away. At first it sounded like goofing around, but then it repeated at regular intervals, sounding as if he was having all his limbs torn off. I have no idea what was going on there.

Trying to get away from the drawn-and-quartering, I turned down a different street and encountered this cool-looking clock on a wall.

To look at it, you’d think it’d make a sound like “splat!” but right as I was staring at it, it struck noon and a beautiful, melodic chime came out of it. It sounded like a giant music box: kind of magical, what with the sun coming in and out of the clouds and all.

Further wandering led me to a place at lunch called The Inn Under the Red Hog, a restaurant luminaries such as Bruce Willis have been to. I wasn’t looking for it – it just looked interesting so I stopped in. The restaurant stands where the old Iron Inn used to be, a place popular back in the day, with high Communist mucky-mucks. The current owners have tricked it out in a semi-kitschy style that pays homage to the salad days of Communist Poland with Polish menu items with names like, “Lenin’s Lamb Poronin 1913”. I myself had the wild boar a la former Yugoslavian President, Josip Broz Tito. I also got some “kopytka” (gnocchi-like dumplings) and beautiful red borscht.

Mmm...wild boar.


(Btw, if you wanna check the restaurant out, see the website. It has a bizarre music loop with the sound of a man creepily laughing for no good reason.)

Full of boar and potatoes, I went to the nearby Museum of Warsaw Rising which commemorates the way the Polish people eventually fought the Nazis off near the end of WWII. It was a really great museum, but very emotional to walk through. Again, the crowds of schoolkids were there and I know teenagers can be callous, but I was shocked at how they were breezing through the exhibits, laughing and chattering while looking at photographs from the Warsaw ghetto of executions and starving children, not to mention film footage of people taking away cartloads of dead bodies. What kind of generation are we raising?

Anyway, despite it’s difficult subject matter, the museum is modern and its exhibits are really nice.

I really needed a break after all that horror though, so I aimed my steps toward the hotel and a nearby craft brewery. There was no way I was going to miss Warsaw’s fledgling craft beer scene so I went to Kufle i Kapsle. As far as the scene went, it was much like some of the newer, smaller Bay Area breweries like Cellarmaker. That’s where the similarity ends however. I had a four beer sampler: two stouts, a dark lager and a black IPA and was disappointed in every one of them.

In general, they were thin, had little to no aroma, and had very subdued taste. Stouts should be rich and these were…not. The milk stout in particular was disappointing; it looked and tasted like flat RC cola. I was reminded of reading how American brewers said for them European brewers never get the IPA quite right (they end up making something very anemic) and that was certainly true here. The black IPA had almost zero hoppiness.

Despite this setback, I’m not ready to give up. There are more breweries in Warsaw and I intend to find them! Well, after the big event that is. Tomorrow begins the big World of Tanks Grand Finals! There’s some big money at stake here, so this should be a fierce fight among the competing teams. It’s my first e-sports event and I’m looking forward to it with great eagerness.

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