Monday, August 14th

Another day on the train, 3 hour trip on an express (significantly longer on a regular). The central train station in Warszawa is underground and the first thing a person sees when emerging from it into the above ground world is the old headqurters of the comunist party. The Palace of Culture and Learning is a relic on the outside and a useful cultural structure on the inside. Its 36 floors with side buildings are used today as a a play house, movie theater, convention center as well as offices. When we got there the International Bridge Competition was taking place and we saw many countries’ flags on the score-board, as well as heard many languages arould us. A few days later when stopping by a resturant on a cold and windy evening for a cup of hot tea, I heard one member of the Swedish group composed solely of tall man in their 60’s and 70’s say in a loud acented voice to a waiter “We want to be outside, we are vikings, we don’t mind the cold”. They were very excited and happy.

Warszawa is the capital of Poland and the largest city in Poland. In some cases at major intersections pedestians have to use an underground passage to get to the other side of the street. It is a busy city where hotels can be as luxurious and expensive as in the States. Since we were staying 3 nights here and I expected the city to be a flocking point of tourists I decided to expose Jason to a Polish Hostel, where hopefuly there would be a bunch of other people in jeans, with backpacks, all looking at a map, scratching their heads as they leave the comfort of their lodging in the morning to brave the city. To tell the truth I have never been in a hostel and Jason was more prepared for it than I, having stayed in a few 4 years ago.

Our very colorfull (and I mean that literaly) hostel was called “Oki Doki Hotel” and it might as well have been a freshmen dorm in a liberal arts college. There were indeed people from all kinds of nationalities with backpacks, the lobby had shabby haired guys sleeping on sofas waiting for their buddies, music was always playing, there was always someone at each of the 2 computers checking their e-mail, and the noise from the canteen rarely, if ever ceased . Each room had a theme and was decorated acording to it (ex. The Fan had pictures of celebreties, The Angel had a few angelic faces on the walls, ours was Raspberry Thicket painted a lively green, in between the color of a real lime and neon green, with a lamp that had chicken wire for a lamp shade covered by fake pink roses, the same wire with fake, pink, roses was around a 2 x 2 foot mirror on a wall, although with the pink-rose-fluffy-frame the whole thing was 6 x 6 feet in dimentions. Why roses you might ask, well I guess Raspberries were not in season.

It was evening when we got to the hostel. The museums were closed and we were too tired to explore the city. Our only aspiration for the evening was to find food and see a movie, Jason need a break from hearing Polish and it was a nice mental escape. Since movies in theaters are only dubbed for children’s films we got to see “Superman Returns” with Polish subtitles and to Jason’s dissapointment no beer in the theater. We were in Poland not in Germany. There were several small theaters showing about 12 films, mostly American, one Indian from Bollywood, and by small I mean 8 rows with 20 seats in each row. We had assigned seats, which we ignored since there were only 7 people at the movie. It was an excelent film, we both liked it. A good end to our first evening in Warszawa.