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Warsaw's Heroic Cityscape

It is all but impossible not to be subjective about Poland. In every Western visitor its tragic, heroic history provokes powerful emotions - often allied to some sense of guilt. I am always brought back to remembering September 1939, listening, as a child, on a homemade radio to those dying, poignantly defiant chords of the polonaise from Radio Warsaw; later, as a soldier in England in August 1944, listening with agony to the BBC as the Germans wiped out the Warsaw uprising.

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, modern-day Warsaw has been brilliantly rebuilt (unlike its twin, Krakow, which survived virtually untouched, it was pulverized in World War II). Yet it is still impossible to visit without seeing - or at least sensing - those shadows of the past. Last year they received a fresh impulse from the harrowing Roman Polanski movie, "The Pianist," and no guide will fail to take you to the grim Umschlagplatz (meaning, literally, Place of Reshipment, or Trading Center) where the pianist escaped as his family was shipped off to Treblinka.

You will also see in two central city squares the moving statues that mark the Ghetto Uprising of 1943, and the bigger Warsaw Uprising of one year later - after which the Nazis systematically destroyed the old city - and the statue of incomplete railroad sleepers that signify the post-1945 deportations to Stalin's U.S.S.R. Around the Ghetto Statue is a park of chestnut trees, in flower when I was there in May, full of dogs, birds and children.

For the full article visit www.nytimes.com

Warsaw Goes Gourmet
Sunday, September 4, 2005 - Washington Post

Salads sprinkled with goat and Gorgonzola cheeses, vegetarian sandwiches on multigrain breads and elegantly presented platters of duck are the kinds of foods we pine for. But we never thought we'd find them on our latest venture to Warsaw.

It turns out post-Communist Warsaw is dotted with spare cafes offering inventive menus and elaborate Old World restaurants with traditional dishes. It's a long way from the days of martial law, when restaurants were forced to close at 10 p.m., and even Polish cheese op
tions were confined to white or yellow.

For the full article visit www.washingtonpost.com