This photo makes me nostalgic for Warsaw. Out of the three cities that I visited in Poland in October, Warsaw was my favorite. Warsaw had history spilling out of every corner.
Krakow was beautiful because it was basically untouched by the Nazis (and Russians) during WWII so it’s all original and old AF. But Warsaw was completely decimated during the war. The photo you see above is the Old Town Square. After the Polish attempted their first uprising, the German’s, who’d left the Old Town alone for the most part because it was treasured (obviously, look at it), gave a big middle finger to the Polish people and destroyed it.
This is what the Old Town looked like after the Germans destroyed it.
After the war, the Russians and the Poles rebuilt the Old Town. The Russians wanted to show the world what fine work they could do and that communism was great. On the other hand, 500 feet away stood the Royal Palace which took twice as long to rebuild because a palace didn’t exactly align with Communist principles. But the brilliant rebuilding and duplication of the Old Town is why it’s an Unesco World Heritage Site now.
Warsaw has so much more history than just the Old Town Square and that’s why I loved it so much. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing about them soon.
Field Trip to Greenpoint
I found the only reason to ever venture on the dreaded G train and it’s the above chocolate, E. Wedel, a well-known chocolate from Poland. I brought back a bunch of it from Poland last month and people (like myself, for instance) ate it and it’s gone now. So, I Googled where I could buy it in NYC and found a store in Greenpoint (of course).
I took three trains with J to get to Greenpoint this afternoon to find a store named Slodycze Wedel on Manhattan Avenue. But unfortunately it was out of business. Of course.
BUT I wasn’t going to be dissuaded so easily. I scoured the pharmacies and general stores on Manhattan Avenue and I was thrilled to find a few different kinds at Rite Aid. Surprisingly, the imported chocolate cost under $2 a bar. Score.
So, I’m set for the winter now. Seriously, this chocolate is the. best. ever. Better than any of the shit we have in America and it’s totally worth the ride on the awful G train.
Westerplatte (Gdansk, Poland)
On one of my last days in Poland, while I was in Gdansk, I got on public transport and after traveling for 45 minutes in the wrong direction, I hopped off, got a kebab, and caught the first cab I saw back in the other direction to Westerplatte, a peninsula where the German’s fired the first shots of World War II and invaded Poland.
People often make fun of Poland because of how easily they surrendered to Germany at the beginning of WWII. But there are reasons why they fell so quickly. They were a young country, having just received a place back on the map after WWI. They lost about 6 months of militarization because they joined the alliance with France and England and when they asked if they should start to mobilize, England said, “Don’t worry about this Hitler person. We’re going to sit down and have a civilized talk with him.” And third: when Germany did attack, the Allies did nothing. So, yes, they lost their freedom rather easily.
Anyways. All that’s left at Westerplatte are destroyed bunkers and a monument dedicated to everyone who died fighting there. The monument is pretty cool looking, and it’s surrounded by flags from many different countries. The white words at the end of the flags (photo 3) say “Never Again War,” in Polish (so I was told).
It was a cold day when I went and there was barely anyone else there when I arrived. It was quiet and eerie. I took in the beautiful and freezing views of the Baltic Sea (photo 2) before making my way back to the bus stop to head back to the Old Town.
Despite getting lost and it taking forever to get there, I’m glad I went to visit such a historical and haunting piece of the world.
Without a few apps on my iPhone, the trip definitely would’ve been a lot harder. (Thanks, Kristen, for telling me to download two of these, btw.)
Triposo: This app was awesome because it let you pick your destinations and suggested popular things to see and tours and places to stay and basically everything you could ever need to know. The maps also work offline.
Tripomatic: This did basically the same thing as Triposo except it looked a little cleaner. The reason for downloading Triposo was for the purposes of using the offline maps. It helped me plan out my journey day by day.
Currency Exchange: Any old currency exchange app will do. This helped me not freak out when something in Stockholm cost, say, 650 kroner. I would’ve died without this.
Yelp: Duh. You know this is the best for finding all of the best places to eating and other random things too. This helped me find places to eat often.
With these four apps, you should be good to travel solo in a country where the language looks like a Scrabble board threw up and your breakfast costs 300 krone.
My original ID expired a couple of years ago but for some reason my alma mater sent me a brand new one that’s valid through 2017 (thanks, guys!). Despite the fact that I am 19 in my photo and it looks nothing like me, no one ever says anything. Most people who see a lot of theatre know this already, but definitely always keep your college/grad school/whatever school student ID handy. I never understand it when people don’t have it on them.
Especially when you’re a tourist and doing lots of touristy things abroad.
I mean, really. I must’ve saved at least $100 by using my student ID to get into various castles/museums/etc during my trip.
Just hold onto your ID. Keep it in your wallet. That’s really it.