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Report 1962: Poland and the Baltics--Finding Roots

By Sharonov from Illinois, Summer 2011

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Page 3 of 9: Warsaw

We were only in Warsaw for three nights, so didn't search too hard for an apartment. For some reason, VRBO didn't have any listed for Poland's capital, and it didn't seem important enough to expand the search for such a short time. We took a guidebook's recommendation and stayed at Ma Maison Regina, which was right at the top of the restored Old Town and a very comfy hotel indeed. I recommend it highly and would stay there again in a heartbeat. It's in an old building but is modern inside and very, very comfortable. The location was superb.

In the first of many museums in this area of the world, we learned details of the atrocities committed by the Soviets and Germans against the Poles and their neighbors. The Warsaw Uprising Museum is not to be missed. It's multi-media presentation brings this horrible time period alive for the visitor.

Virtually every person we encountered in a business-transaction encounter spoke English. This is a very good thing, as my Polish is limited to "Hello", "Goodbye", "Please", "Thank You", "You stink," and "Kiss My ***." I never had occasion to say the last two phrases, which is a good thing. ( My best friend growing up came from a Polish immigrant family, and she taught me those phrases.) I can also count to five. Our address in Krakow was 6 Krowoderska, and I once told a cabbie to take me to 5, since I didn't know the word for 6, and then walked across the street.

Anyhow, the younger Poles have taken English in school since first grade. Their older counterparts were required to take Russian. So if we needed directions we would approach a wrinkle-free face.

Warsaw's Old Town was flattened during WWII but you wouldn't know it. It was restored using old photos and looks exactly the way it did before the bombs fell. We arrived during a Chopin Festival, and walking down the street on Saturday night we passed several pianos set up in tent-like structures with Chopin melodies flowing out and around us. That's the kind of street music I like!

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