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Day 2: Warsaw

The first mission of the day was to source some breakfast. Poland is a very Catholic country so I wasn't sure that any shops or restaurants would be open. Except for one: the one bearing those famous golden arches. It turns out that there was one only a short walk away.

My street happens to come straight out onto Castle Square:


The buildings in Castle Square really are easy on the eye:


The apartment is located on this street between these two colourful blocks:


There was some sort of demonstration nearby, around Sigismund's Column:


Once breakfast was sorted, I went back to the hotel to have a bit of a lazy day, ahead of a later adventure. You see, I'm in Warsaw, the home of Esperanto, since this is where Ludoviko Zamenhof lived when he published the first book in the language in 1887. I'm an Esperantologist, so there were some streets I wanted to track down.

I left in the afternoon, and the restaurants on Castle Square had brightened themselves up with some lights:


I headed off in the direction of the Barbikan, and soon found this rather strange statue:


It's the Pomnik Małego Powstańca, a monument honouring child soldiers:


And before long I glimpsed the Barbican in the distance:


It was  a sixteenth century fortress which was largely destroyed during the Siege of Warsaw in 1939 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. What we see now is a rebuilt version, hence its apparent newness:


The nearby streets are full of colourful buildings:


They realy are delightful:


And they go on for quite a distance:


I realised I would have to turn off before I ended up too far off track, so turned onto a main road, where I was met with a sight I hadn't anticipated:


They were following a black car which had a police escort. Something didn't seem quite right to me: the uniforms seem to be from decades past:


And my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the women:


I presume it was either a historical re-enactment or something being filmed, although I hadn't spotted a camera crew. I seemed to have chanced upon a hotspot for commemorating the Second World War:


This is a monument to the Warsaw Uprising:


I crossed the road to walk through the gardens of the Krasinski Palace and found my first bit of unexpected Esperanto on a signpost for hired bikes:


That's the Esperanto word for vehicle, and it was immediately in front of the palace, the front lawn to which was the territory of a collection of winged horses:


I went around the back of the palace to walk through its grounds:


It really is a splendid building:


And it brought me out right where I wanted it to:


Alongside Zamenhof Street you'll fine a monument to the Warsaw ghetto:


And on the same site stands the enormous POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews:


And so I decided to go into this gargantuan building to see whether my Esperanto detective skills would turn something up. There are extensive exhibitions spanning 9 different galleries.


I'd seen plenty of beautiful artefacts, including these paintings of Frederick William II, Emperor Franz II of Austria, and Catherine the Great:


But there didn't seem to be any Esperanto-related displays. And then my eagle eyes caught sight of something familiar in the distance:


"That's the house in Białystok in which Zamenhof was born", I thought to myself, and I approached it. One quick glance seemed to confirm it:


And then I spotted a relevant passage on a board:


Success! But could I find more?

It turns out I could. And all I had to do was mind the steps as I headed down a flight of stairs:


This led to a map of the ghetto on the floor:


Although I was going around as fast as I could, there was a one-way system in place and the exhibition spanned several floors, so I spent more time in the museum than I intended to. I needed to resume my route: I was off to Nowolipie Street, where the firm which printed the first Esperanto book was located at number 11. To get there, I had to go down Nowolipki Street ... and look what I found:


Amazing! An Esperanto mural!


It existed on both sides of a shortcut between buildings:


There were Polish translations of the Esperanto text:


I'm afraid Nowolipie Street doesn't hold a candle to it.


This is the section where the Chaim Kelter's printing firm used to stand:


It looked nicer back in the day:


And on I strode to my final destination: Zamenhof's tomb in the Jewish cemetery. As tends to happen to me, I passed a street with a memorable name en route:


Unfortunately, my decision to visit the Museum of the History of Polish Jews backfired to a degree: the Jewish cemetery had closed by the time I got there. That just means I'll have to come back tomorrow morning before I leave Warsaw.

At this point, it was becoming evening and I was a couple of miles away from the Old Town, so it was time to walk back as night was falling:


And after a while, I saw a familiar, if not friendly, face:


One quick glance at the beautiful Castle Square:


And then I headed home.

Tomorrow morning I'll be saying goodbye to Warsaw. I'm glad I came here: it's far, far nicer than I imagined.

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