Warsaw day 1: Protest, smoke and pierogies
Today was my first full day in Warsaw, Poland. I'm staying at an Airbnb with a very nice retiree, who met me at the train station and made pierogies for me last night. She smokes, which I didn't realize, but so far it hasn't been too bad (there's a door between the rooms we sleep in).
It's raining here today, so I had to go back to change shoes. When I got back to the main street, to walk to Old Town, a protest of some kind had begun. A few thousand people must have been in it, based on how long it had been going on when I reached it, and how long it took me to reach the end. It was peaceful, but loud - lots of horns and whistles.
I saw families, clumps of police at edge (all calm and none wearing extra gear) and several people wearing bibs that said Polish Teachers Union. At times it was hard to distinguish from a parade - they even had a band at the end.
Right now I'm eating a late lunch - rye soup (apparently a traditional dish) with slices of sausage and hard boiled egg, an assortment of pietogies (dumplings) and some bread they served with a sour cream-dill spread. The soup came in a bread bowl that's similar to rye. I almost ordered a venison stew with juniper!
It's interesting how Poland navigates the place between Germany and Russia. Both cultures/countries obviously influence -- and to some extent threaten -- Poland, yet there's a strong sense of distinct identity.
After lunch, I hope to visit a flea market east of here and across the river, and hopefully the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
So far the architecture reminds me somewhat of Prague and other European cities I've been to. However, nearly all is a reconstruction. According to my guide book, only 15 percent of Warsaw survived the razing at the end of WWII.
Monday I'll take the bus to the small town that my paternal great grandfather was from.