Writer, traveler, maker


Travel updates and occasional commentary

Warsaw day 2: Ghosts and graves

After yesterday's post, I went to a museum of Jewish history in Poland. I have always been interested in the period of history around WWII, but I'd either forgotten or didn't know the particular role of Poland in the Holocaust - particularly that Hitler built all the death camps in occupied Poland.

Warsaw-Jewish museum memorial.jpg

I had another taste of that history when I went to church this morning, because the congregation met in a building on the historic Jewish street of Próżna, part of the former Warsaw ghetto. Almost none of the city survived the Nazi occupation, but a very scarred building down the block from where the church met appeared to predate the war.

Warsaw Jewish neighborhood scarred building.jpg

After the service, the pastor explained that carved animals I'd noticed on one side appeared to be part of an old entrance for carriages and bore the date 1898 - confirming my guess.

Warsaw Jewish neighborhood-building detail.jpg

From church I caught a tram north to see the last hour of a flea market (so far, Warsaw has excellent transit).

Warsaw nuns on tram.jpg

The overwhelming array of wares included swords, silverware, glassware, lots of paintings ... and a pile of Jewish armbands just like one I saw in the museum yesterday. I assume, but couldn't prove, they were genuine.

The sun sets around 330 here, so the light was already changing as I headed to my next stop: a Polish cemetery where I met a friend from New York.

Like me, he was in Poland for a first time, here for a film festival. After seeing the grave of a famous Polish director about whom my friend wrote his dissertation, we headed back to Old Town for some shopping and dinner.

That brings us to the day in food. This morning I grabbed some kind of jelly donut en route to church that seemed to have a rose- flavored filling! Very unexpected, but good. I didn't eat again until dinner, at which my friend and I ordered an enormous platter of meat. There may have been 10 or more kinds of fried or cooked protein, including veal and various sausages. I ate only a little meat, but the sauerkraut-and-mushroom pierogies we had as appetizer were some of the best yet. Including drinks and a salad, my friend said the whole meal cost about $40 U.S. I must have brought nearly a pound of meat back to my Airbnb host afterward.

Polish meat plate.jpg

Tomorrow I'll try to see Zuromin, the town in which my great grandfather grew up! The bus there takes 2-3 hours, and I don't expect anyone to speak English. It will be an adventure.