torrie's travels

WHERE WILL I GO NEXT?

Prague September 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:39 pm

What a beautiful city!  I had a great view from the Prague Castle this morning, which was my first stop.  I can’t wait for you to see photos (if I can EVER upload them… seriously annoyed tonight!).  It was a great view!  But in order to get it, I had to walk up a large hill that had steps interspersed throughout just for fun!  Needless to say, I was happy to take a break and enjoy the view!  I took the short tour of the Castle, hitting the Old Royal Palace (unfortunately several of the rooms/exhibitions were closed), St. George’s Basilica, The Golden Lane, and, finally, St. Fits’ Cathedral.  The Palace was ok.  If more rooms had been open, it may have been better.  I did get to a see a portrait of Marie Antoinette’s mother, though.  Apparently she was royalty here.  The Basilica was nice and Golden Lane was basically gift shops with some interesting exhibits.  But the kicker was St. Vitus’ Cathedral.  It was stunning.  Just really took my breath away.  The stained glass was incredible, the vaulted ceilings were dramatic, and the chapels were very pretty as well.  I think it can rival any of the large Cathedral’s in Europe.  It was definitely my favorite!  I was hoping to see the Changing of the Guard at noon, but it didn’t happen.  Bummer.

I then walked down to the Charles Bridge, which is the famous bridge over the Vltava River.  It was quite beautiful, if a little hot by the end!  Construction started in 1357 and until 1841 it was the only way to cross the river in Prague.  And I did touch the famous statue of St. John Nepomuk  and made a wish… here’s hoping it comes true!  From the bridge I made my way into Old Town Square.  This one ranks third on my list so far.  Krakow being first and Warsaw second.  But this one has the Astronomical Clock.  I got there 9 minutes to 1pm and got to see it chime.  Not only does it have the astronomical aspect to it, but at the top it parades all 12 disciples by open windows.  I hope my video turned out!  Additionally, the clock has four figures on it: Vanity, Usury/Greed, Death, and Entertainment (or Turks, pick your choice).  It is a beautiful clock and I’m glad I got to see it chime!

I then had lunch, which was unremarkable, with the exception of my beverage.  I don’t like beer.  Not a beer drinker.  Give me a cider and I’m happy.  But I know the Czech Republic is known for their pilsner, so I gave it a try.  I think I had 4 drinks of it.  Gross.  I just couldn’t do it.  We’ll see what happens in Oktoberfest, but it doesn’t look good!  But hey, at least I tried it!

I then went into St. Nicholas Church, which is also on the square.  I had been there last night, where I attended a concert by the Mozart Trio.  They performed Mozart (Duh), Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, and Handl.  It was great!  The mezzosoprano was excellent during her arias as well.  But I couldn’t take photos and look around at that time.  It was a small church, but gorgeous.  The chandelier is one of the best I’ve ever seen.  I think it’s just incredible.  And hopefully at some point, I’ll be able to show you!

I then made my way back to Wenceslas Square (seriously have been singing that song as sung in Love Actually for the past two days) to look for the Museum of Communism.  Never found it yesterday.  It said it was above McDonald’s, but there are literally 5 of them in the area.  And there are always signs hanging on street poles to how many meters to the nearest McD’s.  Some BKs, Subways, and KFCs as well, but McD’s is by far the most popular!  This time I found it.  It was very interesting.  I had hoped there would be more, but I liked that it was arranged as “the dream, the reality, and the nightmare” that is/was communism.  I’m glad I went!

I decided to get a fountain pop at McD’s before calling it a day and I realized that they sold beer there.  WHAT?  I’ve never seen that before.  I can’t show you a picture because I got yelled at.  I was told I couldn’t take photos. What the H?  I’ve taken photos at fast food establishments (including McD’s) in both Ireland and London and never got chastised. I asked why and she had no answer.  I then ordered my pop and she asked me if it was for here or to go.  So I’ll leave it at that.

Off to Vienna in the morning… probably v. early in the morning.  I think I’m taking the 6:39am train.  It’s a 5-hour trip, so I guess I can sleep then.  I’d rather get into Vienna at 11:30 than 1:30, so…

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What I Needed to Hear When I Needed to Hear it

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:14 pm

So last night as one Aussie roommate was out using the computer and the other was taking a shower, I had a great conversation with the third.  She is nearing the end of a 6-week holiday and she was talking to me about how much the first week sucked.  She said it was awful, hard, and she was emotional.  She said she cried at the drop of a hat, was only “meh” when asked if she was having fun, and was dreading the rest of her trip.  I was so shocked because I thought it was just me.  I told her that and then proceeded to get emotional myself!  I, too, have been crying at the drop of a hat, feeling like this is a lot harder than I had expected it to be, and feeling like 12 more weeks is interminable.  So it was so good to hear that someone else had experienced the same thing and that it passes!  She said you’re stilt jet lagged, you’re tired of walking around all the time, and it takes some time to get into the groove.  I told her I also had wondered if part of it was starting in these countries where the language barrier is so great and she agreed.  She said she felt the same way in Spain, which is where she started.  I was surprised to hear that because I think Spain would be so much easier than Poland or the Czech Republic.  But she said there than “gracias” she knows no Spanish.  I guess that makes sense, we have quite a few more Spanish speakers in the States than they do in Australia! At this point, she got a little teary-eyed and said she was so glad someone else was voicing her experiences!

In addition to commiserating together, she offered me some advice.  It kind of reinforced what I had already decided earlier in the day, but she said that I need to take days for myself.  She said she spent an entire day in Berlin in bed reading.  I told her I wanted to do stuff like that, but am afraid I will miss out or should be out seeing things.  She told me to forget what I “should” be doing and do what I want to do and what I feel like I need to do!  Like I said, I had basically decided that already, but it was so good to hear reinforced!

Basically, this was a conversation I needed to have right then.  I am so thankful that God knows what we need when we need it!

 

Not All Butterflies and Rainbows September 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 7:52 am

So I alluded to it on FB this morning, but today was a less than stellar day.  I want to be honest on here and not only share the great things, but also the struggles.  So to be honest, navigating these “Eastern European” (are they still called that?) countries has been harder than I anticipated.  There is little English, which makes things difficult.  I know it’s totally ethnocentric of me to want that, but English is really the common-ground language.  Take my Auschwitz tour… I was on an English tour, but I was the only native speaker.  The rest were foreigners who also spoke English.

Anyway, the lady at the train/bus station this morning was not helpful and I apparently did not understand her instructions.  I thought I was getting on a bus to my hostel and I needed to take the metro.  By this time, I was drenched in sweat (are you noticing a theme?) and my bag was heavy, so I grabbed the first cab I saw.  The first thing the people at the hostel said was hostile (see what I did there?).  I think he’s been trying to make up for being rude, but still.  I had “slept” on a train, in my contacts (which I almost lost one of this morning…thankfully my sweet, older Polish bunkmate miraculously found it!) and the same tank I was wearing yesterday, couldn’t wash my face or brush my teeth, etc.  I get to the hostel and couldn’t check in (understandable).  I asked if there was somewhere I could freshen up.  I was told, outside.  Clearly something was lost in translation.  Add to this that I had had almost no food in almost 23 hours (nothing was open at the train station last night and I had to wait in an interminable line to get my rail pass activated… and I had to yell at the lady to do it).  Not a good combo.

Thankfully, Rebecca had insomnia and iMessaged me!  (So thankful for friends reaching out!). I tried to eat breakfast at the hostel… it was gross.  I had very little.  I was then going to go on a walking tour of the city courtesy of the hostel.  I walked in and saw a whole bunch of 12 year olds.  Apparently this “luxury hostel” thing is cheap enough to still attract the young ones.  I couldn’t do it.  So I freshened up in the bathroom (I cleared that up!) and set out on my own.  Got to the metro station to go to New Town/Wenceslas Square and found a McDonald’s.  Decided then that I would comfort myself with things from home.  I feel like I shouldn’t have had to do that this early in the trip, but I think it was a perfect storm of events.  I had McD’s and proceeded to the Square.  Sat in the square and finished my book and then walked around the square.  It was so Americanized.  Three McDonald’s, BK, KFC, couple Starbucks, H&M, Marks and Spencer (ok, a little British, too).  It felt so good!

Moral of the story: give up the “expectations” and just go with it.  If I need a break, I need a break!  If I need Starbucks, I’m getting Starbucks!

 

Walking, Walking, and More Walking! September 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 12:30 pm

Yes, I feel like that is all I did today.  And my aching feet, legs, knees, and back can attest to it.  I am posting a little earlier tonight because I am back at the hostel waiting for my cab (in 2.5 hours) to bring me to the train station.  I am checked out of the room, but am chillin’ in the common room waiting.  I am excited and a little nervous to be taking a night train (by myself… Liz and I will rock it next month!).  I really hope I have the cabin to myself, but I am sure I’m not that lucky!

So I got up early again today, after a terrible night’s sleep (due, in part, to too much caffeine and lots on my mind).  I was thinking this morning that I have to get up early everyday to make the most of my time.  Although I’m on vacation, it’s not like I can just lounge around all that much.  So I think I will spend many evenings relaxing, as I have been.  This isn’t really a “go out and party” kind of trip. I would like to meet people, fellow travelers, locals, new friends… but I have my guy at home and so it’s not like I’m out in search of anything.  And plus, my evenings will be the time when he and I can Skype, so I want to be in for that (on the days that it works out).  I was thinking that it was lame that I was spending evenings in my room, but in addition to everything I just said, I think it would be super unreasonable to think that I can go-go-go for 90 days.  Most vacations I would like to be out as much as possible, but while this is a trip, it’s also life.  I am living life here and I just need down time.  And that’s ok.  So I’m not going to feel guilty!  (Because I did.  A little.)

Ok, back to today.  I walked all the way down to Wawel Hill and stopped at a bakery I saw in old town the other day.  I was very excited to go there and when I walked in, I realized it was a French Bakery.  Wah wah.  Well, ok, twist my arm, I will have a chocolate croissant.  Nowhere near as good as in Paris (thank you, captain obvious).  I arrived bright and early to Wawel, in the hopes of getting on the first tours.  Success!  Wawel Hill is comprised of the Castle (which has several parts), a Cathedral, a garden, and other things.  I had planned on touring the State Rooms, the Royal Apartments, the Treasury and Armory, and the Cathedral.  I wish I hadn’t toured the Treasury and Armory.  Kind of boring… nowhere close to as cool as the Crown Jewels at the Tower in London!

Now, you may be asking, what is this castle?  Well, Krakow was the original capital of Poland and was where the kings reigned from.  It was sacked many times.  The poor Poles have been ruled over by everyone.  The Swedes, the Austrians, the Germans, the Russians, etc.  Well, the kings reigned in Krakow until the 1700’s, when the capital moved to Warsaw.  Interesting factoid: toward the end of the royal rule in Poland, they were electing kings.  Weird, right?  It gets weirder.  They elected them from other countries!  They had a French king, several Swedish kings (even had a Swedish king when the Swedes invaded… how rude), and Saxon kings.  Anyway, they lost their independence around 1796-ish and did not regain it until after WWI.  They began renovating Wawel at that time and getting back on their feet when Germany invaded in 1939 and they went from German occupation to Russian occupation.  These guys couldn’t catch a break.

The tour was a little strange.  The State Rooms and the Treasury and Armory were self-guided tours, but the Royal Apartments was a guide-led tour.  And afterward, it seemed to not make any sense.  It could have been all self-guided, so I think it is a way to make more money.  I was so tired (sleepy) and fatigued (feet, legs), that it was all I could do to not sit in the many chairs on display and fall asleep.  It was a serious struggle, the only thing keeping me upright was the fact that these chairs were hundreds of years old and not meant to be sat on.  I was going to tour the Cathedral after (separate admission, again), as I was getting my second wind, but I was also starving.  So I ate at a restaurant there (they had Polish Cider!  Yay!  I hadn’t seen any yet.  And it was so good!).  Then I decided I needed to save my strength for more important things: Oskar Schindler’s factory and the Eagle Pharmacy.  So I left Wawel and set out for the Jewish Quarter and Podgorze.

I have to admit I was slightly disappointed with the Schindler factory.  I knew there was an exhibition, but I thought that was in addition to the factory.  Nope.  The exhibition was almost the entire thing. While it was housed in the factory and was very interesting, it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.  I am still glad I trekked out there to see it, but I just really wish it had been the factory itself.  The exhibit was good and interesting, but similar to the Warsaw Rising Museum: so much reading…not enough brain space.  The coolest part was that Stern and Schindler’s offices were preserved.  The floorboards creaked so badly!

After that, I made my way to the Eagle Pharmacy.  Otherwise known as the Cracow Ghetto Pharmacy This was a Polish (i.e. non-Jewish) pharmacy, that happened to be located in the heart of the Ghetto.  The pharmacist, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, was allowed to keep it running for 2.5 years during the War.  This was remarkable and he used his business to help the Jews living in the Ghetto.  He got them false papers, helped the ones too sick in the hospital to escape deportations, etc.  I read his memoir this winter and it was really incredible.  The pharmacy is all a copy, the real one was destroyed, but I always like seeing in real life what I had pictured when reading a book.

One surprise was that right outside the pharmacy was Plac Zgody (or Plac Bohaterow Getta).  This was the square where the SS made selections of people in the Ghetto to send to the camps and ultimately where the Ghetto was liquidated.  I should have expected this, as the memoir refers to him being able to look out his window and watch it.  (Though he often hid in the back when these occurred.). It was pretty powerful to be standing in that spot.

I always said that the first part of this trip was going to be very WWII-heavy (though I am getting a little break here before Germany and Amsterdam), and that I thought it was cool that the WWII stuff would end at Normandy. As I am experiencing all of this, I am so happy that’s the case.  Even though I know we won, I think all of these experiences will make Normandy that much more powerful!

I then made my way slowly, painfully, back to Old Town.  I just wanted a place to sit down and have WiFi!  I knew I wanted to eat dinner at a Milk Bar, so I had to stay in Old Town.  I relaxed some and then went to the Milk Bar.  A Milk Bar is a holdover from Communist Poland and as far as I’m concerned, it can go.  I knew what to expect.  Cheap, traditional, Polish food served with absolutely no frills.  And I was fine with that.  They had plum dumplings, which I thought were going to be like pierogi with fruit (which exists).  But these were not pierogi.  They were dumplings.   And I couldn’t eat them.  But I tried!  I wasn’t even that hungry, so I thought it was fine and I would get some food at the train station, but now I have just under 2 more hours to wait and I am HUNGRY!  I think my stomach is still suffering from jetlag.  I don’t eat much during the day (and I’m not hungry), but I’m starving at night!

Well, this is where I bid you adieu.  I will wake up in the Czech Republic tomorrow.  Really looking forward to that!  Mozart concert tomorrow night at St. Nicholas Church!  In the meantime, I will work on pictures and hopefully get them posted to Facebook.  Once I do that, I will post some here for my non-Facebook readers!

 

Auschwitz-Birkenau September 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:32 pm

This will be a short(er) post.  I could hardly digest everything I saw, smelled, and heard today, let alone process it enough to talk about it here.  I will likely need to journal about this myself before I am able to talk publicly about it.  There is no way to make people understand what it’s like without experiencing it for yourself.  When I skyped with my boyfriend tonight, he asked about it.  I started crying and said, I can’t.  I told him that I stood in a gas chamber today.  How am I supposed to talk about that?

I was proud of myself for my food choices today, though!  I found a Polish bakery on my way to the bus station, I think it was called Buczek.  Anyway, I pointed at a pastry that looked like it might be good.  It was round and filled with something, which I usually don’t like.  This wasn’t any jelly like I’ve ever had before.  It was sort of brown. But it was tasty!  I was on my tour between 11:30-3, so I missed lunch.  Not like I had an appetite.  But afterward, I knew it would be a few hours before we were back in Krakow, so I got a hot dog at a snack bar.  It was so-so.  On my way home from the bus station, I wanted something quick.  So I went into a grocery store and bought a sandwich of questionable content.  It had some thin slice of meat, lettuce, and an unrecognizable spread.  With a round roll.  I got some chips, still avoiding the weird ones.  Plus two candy bars!  One of my favorite parts of traveling is trying the different candy!

So I am treating tonight as a get-away night, which it technically is.  But I don’t leave Krakow until 10pm tomorrow.  I will be taking my first night train… this one to Prague.  I have a lot on the itinerary for tomorrow (Wawel Hill and Castle, (hopefully) Oskar Schindler’s Factory (no available tickets online, but I’m hoping it just means you can’t buy tickets online that close to the date), and the Eagle Pharmacy (the exhibition of the Cracow Ghetto Pharmacy…I read his memoir this winter so I was very excited to learn, yesterday, that there is an exhibition!), so I will pack up tonight everything that I can and leave my bag in the locker tomorrow until I need to leave for the train station.  I am wondering what I am going to do once I am in a room shared with other girls.  My bag practically explodes when I start to unpack it.   Crap everywhere!  I guess I will find out Thursday night!  (After Prague, I won’t be sharing a room again until Berlin… so I won’t have much practice!)

I didn’t think that 5 days in Poland would be an insufficient amount of time.  But I think I could have used one more day in both Warsaw and Krakow.  Either way, I am so glad to have come!

 

Trains, Poles, and No Diet Coke September 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:11 pm

I was quite nervous this morning to catch my early train to Krakow.  I called (well, emailed) for a taxi at 7:15am, so I could get to the train station and buy a ticket for the 8:17am train.  I kept thinking I was going to oversleep, so I was a bit restless toward the end.  Also, lots of noise outside.  Turns out they were filming something on the street outside of my hotel.  Something with a car.  Will post photo.

I made it to the station and bought my ticket no problem.  Killed time and then found the platform (again, very hot and sweaty…I will very much look forward to fall temps soon!).  I started to worry because the train that was leaving at 8:17 was some Z name.  But I walked around to find an info board and saw that stops along the way included Krakow.  I was nervous getting on the right train car and finding my seat. I remember from when Jaime and I rode the Eurostar last year that train seats make no sense to me.  Unless someone understands them and wishes to enlighten me!  Eventually I found my seat and realized I needed to heft my very large bag up onto the racks high above the seat (or, at least, it looked high above the seat).  Thankfully a man across the aisle made a move as if to help, but then his seatmate blocked him in.  So the guy behind me got up and said, let me help you.  (He also was right there, immediately, to help me again once we had arrived in Krakow.  So nice!).

My seatmate sits down (kicks me out of the window seat, unfortunately!) and I realize she speaks quite good English.  So soon after leaving Warsaw the train stops.  For like 30 minutes.  At approximately 20 minutes, an announcement comes over the loud speaker.  In Polish.  A few minutes later, I asked my seatmate why we were stopped.  She said it was a blockage on the tracks that no one had removed yet.  Ok.  I quickly decide I need to take advantage of this time and sleep.  She and I both slept the majority of the way.  But first, a cart came around with beverages.  I didn’t know if you had to pay, so after my seatmate selected her Scooby Coo orange juice box, she interpreted for me, asking, without my prompting, do you want apple or orange juice?  No thank you.  Later, she got up to walk around and we stopped again. Another announcement.  When she returned to our seats, she said, you probably didn’t understand, but they said we have a 25 minute delay. A 25 minute DELAY?  Yes, she says, pretty standard.  Really?  Yep, she says.  So I need to put my patient pants on for my trains rides, apparently. Seriously, the nicest, most helpful people!!

I knew my hostel was about 2 km from the train station, and with a 47lb bag on my back, I knew I couldn’t walk it.  So I made a beeline for the taxi stand.  And got totally ripped off.  It was an $8 ride instead of the $4 it would’ve been in Warsaw.  I will need to go online and find a reputable taxi for the ride Wednesday night.  I’m not paying that again!

But I got to my hostel and couldn’t check in, so I left my bag and made my way to Old Town. Again, my killer sense of direction took me, literally, down the correct street from my hostel.  Ok, there may have been a bit of luck involved, but I knew the general direction, I was just surprised that the street took my directly there!  It was gorgeous.  So much better than Warsaw, even.  It was bigger, for one, and had an old Clock Tower, the Cloth Hall, and St. Mary’s Basilica.  On my list for the day was Old Town and St. Mary’s.  Perfect.  The weather was beautiful again, except when I sat down to eat in a sidewalk restaurant and it got really windy.  St. Mary’s is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen… largely due to the Altar Piece.  You can’t take photos (or, rather, you have to pay extra), so here’s what it looks like:

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It doesn’t do it justice.  So beautiful.  And I had an Irish info map with me.  I was challenging myself to read the Irish and guess what I thought would be depicted in that part of it.  I was right…SOME of the time.  My Irish is going to be terrible by January!  I’m finding there to be a lot of Jan Pawel II around this country.  Not sure what that’s all about.  🙂

I made my way back to the hostel to check in, put socks on (FB joke), and rest a bit.  I uploaded and edited photos and texted before dinner.  Then I decided that I didn’t know where any restaurants were except on the way to Old Town.  So I made my way back there and had some spaghetti.  At a place called Fabryka Pizzy. I’m pretty sure I am going to call pizza pizzy from now on!

I am back a little early, still pretty tired and want to get settled into the new room and plan out tomorrow.  Am going to Auschwitz.  I am really looking forward to it and really dreading it at the same time.

Finally… what does a girl have to do to get a Diet Coke in this country?  This is a huge beef, Poland.  No, I don’t want Coke Zero, I said Coke Light.  Even in corner stores (think, convenience store), no DC.  I’m getting very annoyed.  This needs to be rectified.  Obviously someone needs to educate the Poles on the wonder that is Diet Coke.  Sounds like a good task for me!

 

Warsaw September 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:04 pm

Even though I was in Warsaw yesterday, I don’t feel like I did much in the way of sightseeing or getting a flavor of Warsaw.  I think that was why I felt a little discouraged at bedtime (that, and as someone pointed out to me right before I went to sleep, it’s change… change always takes some getting used to!).

So today I got up after a restful 10 hours of sleep.  Man, I slept like a rock.  I could’ve kept sleeping, too.  I got ready and went out in search of the Hop On-Hop Off bus stop.  I think this was a wise choice to buy a ticket.  I rode the entire tour, an hour’s worth.  I got see all the main sites and how they related to one another and hear all the history and great stories behind this city.  I then rode a little further so that I could get off at the Royal Castle/Old Town stop.  This area is just gorgeous!  I could’ve spent all day there, especially in the Old Town Square.  Enchanting!

Instead, I ate lunch at one of the café/restaurants that line the square.  I knew I needed to dive head first into Polish food, but I didn’t want to!  There are so many Italian restaurants here, I was tempted!  But no, I picked one that had traditional Polish dumplings, aka pierogi, and went for it.  Now, I was starving because I didn’t leave time for breakfast this morning, so I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to eat them and still be hungry.  But I did it anyway!  I ordered up the meat-style.  No idea what kind of meat.  Just meat.  And… they were good!  My first bite was hesitant, and I didn’t eat the stuff that came on top, which I later realized was fried or caramelized onions.  I tried some of those on a bite and it was even better.  They didn’t taste oniony, it just added a sweet taste to it.  I was served 8, but only ate 5.  And that was quite enough. Probably too much because I didn’t like #5 as much as I liked #1!

I then toured the Royal Castle, which was free on Sundays…SCORE!  I didn’t get the audio guide because no one was there to sell them, but I think I could appreciate it without.  I have some great photos!  I just love magnificent buildings like that.  Sort of like touring Napoleon’s apartments at the Louvre.  The opulence is always so stunning.

After the Castle tour I walked around Old Town and got an ice cream cone, which, by my assessment was required.  Seriously, everyone had one!  I walked the length of Old Town before searching for St. John’s Cathedral, which is considered Warsaw’s oldest church.  I hadn’t realized I had walked past it two or three times!

I then decided that I would make my way to the Warsaw Rising Monument, which I had seen on the bus.  I had wanted to take the bus there and then to a couple other spots before heading back into my neck of the woods, but I thought I had missed the bus.  But I hadn’t!  But then I learned that it was 1:30, so it would continue its route (1/2 the tour) and stop for an hour.  Well, that didn’t work, so off I went on foot.  I knew the general vicinity I needed to be in, so I set off.  I turned on a street that I didn’t know if it was the right one, but I knew I could go a street or two over to find it.  Nope, there it popped up on my right.

I had wanted to see this before, but when on the bus tour, I learned that it sits outside the Polish Supreme Court building.  Hello?!?!  So I spent some time at the monument and them walking around the building and looking at the pillars, which are inscribed with Latin legal principles and their Polish counterparts.  (There will be photos of all of this stuff on FB and I will post a selection on here in the coming days… haven’t uploaded, edited, and sorted them yet.)

Then I made my way to the Holy Cross Church, in which Frederic Chopin’s heart is interred in a pillar.  Yes, you read that right.  They love that guy here.  Across the street is a famous (supposedly one of the most famous) statues of Copernicus.  It was pretty cool.  Then on the ground inlaid in the ground was the solar system.  Pretty neat.

I realized on the walk to the church that the road I needed to go home was only a block away.  So I headed back that way and went to Victory Square, where JPII preached his first Mass back in Poland as pope.  This is also the location of the Unknown Soldier and beyond it a beautiful park and fountain (called, Saxon Garden).

I continued on my way back toward my hotel and went to the Warsaw Rising Museum.  It, too, was free on Sundays.  This one, though, I planned.  It was a great museum, but unfortunately, I was tired.  There was so much reading in this museum, I could’ve spent all day there.  Still, I spent a little over an hour.  I watched one of the films and nearly fell asleep.  I think I’m still fighting jet lag.  But all in all, it was a great museum and I learned a lot.  It’s just too bad I wasn’t in better shape and had more time.

I decided I needed to rest my feet and decide what to do for dinner.  I googled the restaurant I had wanted to go to last night, but was too intimidated: Folk Gospoda.  Turns out it’s one of Warsaw’s oldest restaurants, has staff that speak English, and an English menu.  Thank goodness!  After a little rest, I walked down there and had a great meal.  Again, I resisted the urge to have a burger or a Caesar salad and went with the traditional Polish pork chop.  It came with cucumber salad and the waitress asked if I wanted a side… like French fries?  Yes, please!  Holy large portions, Batman!  I ate half of the pork chop (so good!), half of the fries (though there were so many it hardly looked like I put a dent in them), and half of the salad, which consisted of cucumbers with some sort of cream sauce on them.  It was good, but too much sauce.

The cost for the day, excluding my hotel? $28.  Seriously, Poland is cheap.

Now to shower, lay out clothes, and pack what I can.  I have a taxi picking me up at 7:15am so that I can make the 8:15 train to Krakow.  I am so tired, but at least I will have 3 hours to sleep on the train.  Or organize photos!  Something.