There were several walking tour options today, and we thought we would do two - the alternative and the old town. The alternative took us to Praga, the most dangerous part of Warsaw but also the most historic in terms of the uprising and the buildings that weren't flatted and rebuilt during the war. It was the place where the crime rates are the highest - murder, robbery and a part of town that most people from Warsaw avoid!
First up, we learnt that the church in the following image is about 100 years old, in gothic style, and was the first polish church built in the area, as a thumbs up to the russian church around the corner. The spires tower over the city and is taller than the Russian spires.
Before the war, there were 350,000 Jews living in Praga. One of the biggest community of Jews in the world, second only to New York. The building in the image below used to be the Jewish Orphanage before the war. Most of this Jewish population were murdered or died during the second world war, so after the war, the building lay empty. It is now used as a theatre.
There are still 400 or so original buildings left that weren't ravaged, You can see them next to the new ones, untouched in their original condition. The new versus the old brick bulidings...
We learnt that because of the curfews, shrines where people could pray in each neighbourhood sprang up so they could pray together at 9pm at night without going to the Church (which was too dangerous). These are still around today and still lovingly looked after, even in the direlect areas. There's no money to do up their building, but they take pride in keeping their shrines beautiful.
Some of the old buildings still standing as they were prewar...
We then walked through the market that has been around for 400 years. I would have had like more time to explore this, as the goods on display were interesting (shoes!)
And beautiful winter coats - and even... Wedding dresses!
At the end of the tour we ended up waiting for a taxi outside the Russian church...
We taxi'd to Holly's work at the Warsaw Spire. Very modern with shining polished floors. 44 stories.
Holly couldn't meet us straight away so we had lunch there, then headed to the Uprising museum. I had to pay full price, but Anne got in free because she had to accompany her deaf mother! And I was truly deaf - it ended up being a very quiet afternoon for me, as my cochlear implant battery ran out, and the spare was in the handbag I had used the night before. I had forgotten to transfer it to my camera bag! First time ever!
Apparently throughout the museum was the sound of hearts beating, and some artillery fire, and some bombs. I heard nothing, but did feel it on one of the monuments.
Nothing in the museum was new to me really, as I have read many books of this period, and seen many films as well. The people living in the sewers, the ghetto, the fighting, people heroically trying to save as many people as they could (Schlinders List, Irena Sendler). But seeing it all in the museum was still very sad.
There was a cafe in the museum set to the 1940s period. We weren't hungry though so didn't stop.
Images of war!
We headed back to hotel afterwards and celebrated my birthday with a bottle of champagne with Holly before going to Stary Dom for some traditional polish food. We had te dumplings again, a salad and some stuffed bell peppers, followed by dessert..... Lemon Meringue Pie, raspberry cake and a Coffee Meringue Torte. All good!
Tomorrow we head to Lodz after a walking tour of the old town in Warsaw.