Warsaw, Poland (2011)

Photo below: Statue of Nicolaus Copernicus

When Copernicus was born in 1473, the place he was born was part of the Kingdom of Poland.

The young people lounging 'round the statue said they were students at the University of Warsaw. U. of Warsaw is a city-campus university; in other words, while there is a main area of the university, there also are university buildings scattered throughout the downtown area of Warsaw.

Photo below: Entry gates to the main portion of the campus of the University of Warsaw.

Photo below: Inside the gates of the University of Warsaw, this building was center stage.

Photo below: Columns on a building in downtown Warsaw.

Warsaw was basically leveled during World War II. My assumption is that the above building was built after the war, but it was built in the style of a building from an earlier time. You just don't find stone nude male torsos on most 20th century buildings.

Photo below: Closeup of one of the nude male torsos.

Photo below: One of the many, many Catholic churches in Warsaw.

Photo below: Next to the above church is a statue of Stefan Wyszynski

Stefan Wyszynski (1901-1981) was archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno, cardinal, Primate of Poland. He stood against Nazism and Communism. Some would say that he saved the Catholic church in Poland, which allowed Pope John Paul II to free Poland. The deal that Poland had struck with England and France before WW II ("If we fight back when Germany invades, you two will come to our aid") was worthless. England and France did nothing to come to Poland's aid, ever. It was Catholic priests who came to the aid of Poland and who ultimately freed Poland from the occupying Soviet Union that had been given Poland as something of a "reward" by Roosevelt and Churchill at the Yalta Conference.

As bad as the Germans were in their occupation of Poland, the Russians were worse. Neither France nor England helped get the Germans out of Poland. It was the Russians who got the Germans out of Poland, and the Russians did it so that THEY could occupy Poland. This is a point of history that many American children miss. I have heard American children confused about what "side" Poland was on during WW II. The American kids get confused because even they can see that the Poles lost to the Russians (sorry, the "Soviets"). And then the kids are taught that the Russians were the "friends" of the USA, England, and France during WW II. Despite this history, Poles have an amazing loyalty to and love of the American people. As nation friends go, Poland and the Polish people would rate with Canada and the U.K. American travelers in Poland are genuinely welcomed.

Photo below: The Polish "White House," the Presidential Palace.
This is where the President of Poland lives. In Poland, the Prime Minister is more important (politically) than the President, but the President gets a nice white house to live in.

Photo below: Herbert C. Hoover Street.

President Hoover's middle name was Clark. Why a street in Warsaw, Poland, is named after him is not known.

Photo below: Street pole with sign showing wifi "Hot Spot."

Look at the street pole on the right side of the photo. Towards the top of the pole, you see a sign: "HOT SPOT." Throughout Warsaw, there were frequent "hot spots" with wifi for internet access. My understanding is that those "hot spots" are free. Wherever there was a "Hot Spot" sign, there were people seated nearby with laptops. With Warsaw being a university town, these free "hot spots" would be great for university students.

Photo below: One of the many images of Pope John Paul II.

Photo below: People dressed up to be in a video advertisement.
It had something to do with the Polish soccer team.

Photo below: Street in old town Warsaw.
It reminded me of what I imagine a street would look like in the fictional Harry Potter world.

It seemed that half of the shops were selling primarily amber jewelry form the Baltic. Some had magnifying glasses so customers could see the real (dead) bugs inside the amber jewelry. The more bugs, the more the jewelry cost.

In one of these shops, I found Boleslawiec pottery. It's a high-quality stoneware pottery made in Boleslawiec, Poland. I purchased a serving bowl and six dessert plates in a particularly pretty pattern -- then wondered HOW to get them back to the USA. It took some creativity, but they arrived intact at my home.

Photo below: Art work on a Catholic church door in old town Warsaw.

Photo below: Entrance to a Catholic church in old town Warsaw.

Photo below: Two Catholic churches, side by side, in old town Warsaw.

Look at the photo just above. The pink/coral and white building on the left is the Catholic church with the fancy bronze angel sculptures on the entry door. The brick building that dominates the photo is the other Catholic church pictured above. Both are large church buildings. Both are active churches where Mass is said regularly. The churches are side-by-side. There seems to be a church on every street corner in Warsaw; in old town Warsaw, they're even closer together.

Photo below: Plaque in memory of the Warsaw uprising.

The plaque says, "Place sanctified by the blood of Poles who died for the freedom of their homeland." When you doubt the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, remember Warsaw.

From Warsaw, I took a train to Gizycko.

2011 Trip