Warsaw Day 6 – Walking, walking, walking

My hope was to get up early and cram in as much sight-seeing as possible, but sleep deficit caught up to me and I slept late. I feel fortunate not to have been woken up by a pushy cleaning lady – apparently, this hotel has issues with cleaning ladies not taking “get out” for an answer. One of the journalists on this trip told us a woman barged into his room while he was sleeping and proceeded to fill his mini-bar despite his protestations. We suggested the next day, to wait for her right inside the door – naked.

Anyway, no grumpy maids accosted me so I slept until 12:30. This gave me a late start but was perfect timing as far as vising another brewery went. The only problem? My horrible sense of direction sent me blocks and blocks in the wrong direction. My only consolation was that I ran into a Starbucks and was able to buy the Warsaw Starbucks cup my dog nanny requested, and I got to see the famous Warsaw palm tree.

It's made of plastic.

I asked people for directions to the brewery three separate times, was sent various different ways and had a bizarre exchange with a woman who came up to me (perhaps thinking I knew how to get somewhere? ha!) on the Royal Road. She started to address me in Polish, I smiled and said, “Sorry, I don’t understand,” whereupon she put her hand out in a placatory gesture and said, “Oh sorry!” That in itself, isn’t so strange. What was unusual was that upon reaching out, she pressed my boob ever so lightly. Perhaps it’s a traditional Polish gesture of welcome? Hrm.

Despite wasting lots of shoe leather (or in my case, rubber) and suffering an unexpected groping, I at long last, found the brewery at the very crossroads on which I’d started. It was called “Cuda na Kiju” and was located inside an ugly old government building near a statue of Charles de Gaulle. Interestingly, although it’s connected to a structure that’s your typical hideous block of concrete, the bar itself is glass on all sides. I ordered a sampler of four Polish beers: a pale, a red smoke beer, a schwarzbier and an IPA.

There is solid craft beer in Poland.

These proved miles better than the ones at the previous brewery. They actually had smell, taste, an appropriate level of carbonation. The only one I wasn’t too keen on was the schwarzbier which had a strange “off” taste. It was an interesting place. Run by Polish hipsters, young skater-looking guys, but the music on the sound system was old American 1930′s songs – perky things like Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”.

After the brewery, I decided to continue on South on Nowy Swiat to the Liezinski Gardens. On my own, I got to see more of them, and spent some time sketching at a little cafe. To buy time at the table I got a latte and an ice cream sundae with chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice cream with walnuts, whipped cream and prunes. Prunes? I wondered if perhaps they’d discovered some kind of wondrous culinary combination by tossing prunes on chocolate ice cream but no, they really didn’t add anything. Well, perhaps a bit of roughage.

That big black thing is a prune.

The park is huge and within its boundaries, I walked and walked and walked. The day was overcast, the squirrels were hopping, young couples were canoodling, older people were taking the air… I crossed back through the park again, across a freeway, and past a slew of embassies. The American embassy looks SO American. I can’t show a photo though, because I thought if I took one, the policeman outside it might tackle me. I did however, get a photo of the statue of Ronald Reagan that’s across the street from it. Polish people apparently revere him. Urgh.

Yup, there's the Gipper.

I entered another large park, took a long time traversing that one, and ended up in a kind of grim, unattractive area of the city. I stopped to buy a donut for later and for the first time, encountered someone young who didn’t speak English and seemed to get impatient with me. Mostly, people have been nicer than I expected and not too judgmental (at least visibly) about us lazy one-language-speaking Yanks.

Roundabout, I ended up back on Nowy Swiat and took it all the way back to my hotel. I got back at 6, realizing that I’d have to find some kind of dinner but had no energy to do it. I opted for room service, even though it forced me to straighten up my tornado-hit room. It’s just too embarrassing to let the guy bringing me my food see what a slob I am. Obviously, he was just as uncomfortable as I am with the concept of delivering food to a stranger’s rented bedroom, because upon trying to perform the big “voila” food reveal, he dropped the metal dome thingie on the floor with a big clang followed by a lot of apologies. Poor kid.

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