Is it true? I challenged Thad but I think that he may be right!
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It’s a gorgeous day for a stroll on Sunday in the park.
Lastly we hit a contemporary museum in the Park:
My favorite video of the day – a meditation room set to Chopin
Warsaw has hidden gems of architectural interest throughout the city. We wanted to show Thad the University’s library today as it is quite a model of a green building.
What does our urban planner think of this particular building?
Enough of that, we move on to visit the Frederic Chopin Museum.
Born in Warsaw and having spent most of his composing life in Paris, Chopin’s heart never strayed far from his roots. His first piano teacher was his sister. He starting performing at the age of 8 and attended the music conservatory in Warsaw. Her wrote concertos and perfected the art of the ballad. Both a composer and a pianist, he earned the respect of many literary and musical artists.
Even through Warsaw’s uprising and beyond, he remained true to his country. He fell in love with George Sand (a female writer in Paris) and he composed some of his greatest sonatas there. We learned much about his life and passion and how it paralelled what was going on in his native Warsaw at the time of his life.
Why travel to Poland? (for Uncle Blair!)
The Scene: Warsaw
A long-time Poland afficionado, my dad, armed with vast knowledge of Polish history and culture.
His lovely wife and my side-kick in crime for shopping the streets of Warsaw – my mom. She is also talented a seeking out great original art in new cities.
My brother, Thaddeus, a city planner and architect (like my dad and graduated from U Penn as well). Works in NYC and with an incredible depth of knowledge of city planning all over the world.
And, your humble, Travels in Poland correpondent – me.
All with different view points and points of passion. Take a look…
First a lesson in the Polish language:
What’s For Dinner?
Copernicus is in the Square
Thad’s thoughts on some of Warsaw’s squares (city planning)
For our last night we decided to leave the Old Town (Stare Miasto) and venture into new parts of Warsaw for a special farewell dinner. This was followed by a walk of fountains, the tomb of the fallen soldiers – guarded 24 hours a day, an art gallery, and Teatr Wielki.
Then we moved on to the opera house where exactly 10 years ago we saw La Traviata in the Emperor box seats – I will never forget it.
Thank you for following us on our journey! We have received such nice notes and insights from your reading this blog.
And thanks mom and dad for a great trip!
PS – if you care to follow my adventures in Naples, please see: https://travelsinnaples.wordpress.com
This morning we learned about the Polish military and Katyn and visited the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army, (also known as the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown) which came about through the Military Ordinariate of Poland.
Inside the church there are medals and plaques and statues all dedicated to the military who perished at war.
The main altar contains a sculpture of the patron saint of the church, Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown. Beneath the sculpture there is a steel grating with hundreds of military decorations and votive plaques donated by the soldiers. To the left there is a small Chapel of the Polish Soldier – a Mausoleum of the Defenders of the Motherland. Among the battles featured on stone slabs there are the battle of Cedynia, battle of Grunwald, battle of Vienna, battle of Westerplatte, defence of Warsaw, Warsaw Uprising and the battle of Berlin, as well as other battles of World War II. A chapel to the right of the altar is devoted to the victims of the Katyn massacre. Approximately 15,000 small tablets mark the names of the Polish officers mass murdered by the NKVD in 1940, while additional 7000 wait for the names of those, whose bodies are yet to be found.
And down the stairs is the museum and shrine to those clergy who died. Noting that my dad speaks Polish and that we were very interested in the subject matter, the curator followed us around the exhibit interjecting some commentary. My dad discussed old Polish war movies and my mom and I walked on.
We entered a room dedicated to the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash which occurred on 10 April 2010, when an aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board. These included the Polish president Lech Kaczyński and his wife, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Polish government officials, 15 members of the Polish parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy, and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. They were en route from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre; the site is approximately 19 kilometres west of Smolensk.
Over 10 clergy members perished leaving behind in the rubble: rosaries, rings, glasses, prayer books, cloaks, etc. all which we saw displayed in sand. A chilling reminder and compelling exhibit.
Okay, let’s go back to the mermaid statue. Tonight we heard of the legend of how Warsaw came to be. Well, one of the legends…
The Warsaw Mermaid
Once upon a time lived two mermaids in the Baltic Sea. These half-fish, half-women were beautiful sisters who had spent their whole existence in the sea, before apparently getting bored of the life aquatic. One day they both decided to come ashore. The first sister headed up to the Danish straits, and so she sits at the entrance to the port of Copenhagen to this very day. The other sister swam first to the port of Gdansk, from where she decided to swim the river Vistula to its end. Fortunately for our story, the mermaid decided to rest on a sandy bank on the foot of what is today Warsaw’s Old Town and she loved it so much that she chose to stay.
Soon though, fishermen from the neighbouring village began to notice that someone was letting the fish out of their nets. Annoyed, they decided to capture the culprit and punish him. They didn’t expect to find the mermaid, however, and as soon as they heard her beautiful voice, they vowed never to harm her. Soon, the mermaid would fill every evening with her gorgeous songs to the merriment of the villagers.
One day, a rich merchant was walking by the Vistula and spotted the mermaid. He had the bright idea, as merchants do, to capture her and show her off at a fair, making himself a fat profit in the process. He tricked her and threw her in a wooden shed, but her cries for help were so loud that soon a young (and undoubtedly handsome) fisherman’s son heard her, and with the help of friends set her free. The mermaid, grateful for his aid married the young man and promised to defend them and their village, which would later grow into our beloved Warsaw. The Fisherman’s name was Wars and the Mermaid’s name was Sawa. (Hence, Warszawa – the name of Warsaw in Polish.)
Since then, the mermaid, armed with a sword and shield, has been protecting the city and its inhabitants. She can be seen all over the city, from the statue in the Old Town pictured below, to the city’s coat of arms.
National Stadium – Ready for 2012 Futbol! As a futboll fan who is half-Italian and half-Polish in heritage, I find this story particularly interesting.
For the last two years the Polish Government depended on Italy to prepare for Poland to host the Euro 2012 futbol championships. The stadium that will be home to the championship games was imported from Italy.
More than twelve thousand tons of steel traveled 1.3 thousand kilometers for 14 hours from near Venice, Italy to Warsaw, Poland.
About 70 per cent of the steel construction was prefabricated by Italian company Cimolai, which was also responsible for elements of the stadium for the past World Cup in Johannesburg.
In order not to chip or scratch the lacquer work on any of the elements, some 28 meters long and weighing 50 tons, the journey was made on special extra-wide trucks escorted by cars with flashing signals. The trip took place at night, so as not to wreak havoc in peak-hour Warsaw traffic, and the route was specially planned to avoid narrow streets and sharp turns.
Here is the present day shot of the stadium (they are still building out the stairs and statues.)
Looks like we very close to ready now! The Polish/Italian thing works well!