Old Warsaw, New Warsaw

A great quote today on Warsaw:


attributed to


And so began the day at the Warsaw Uprising Museum

Then we enjoyed a beautiful walk in Warsaw…

With lovely art and music surrounding us:

I did a blog post on this last year but the importance of this site cannot be understated:

We then had some fun with one of our favorite family topics of interest: modern art at the Zacheta Museum.

Modern Art Museum

This exhbit featured some fascinating topics including:

Can young artists afford artistic hooliganism? Is the fascination with real or potential destruction in art a way to revolutionary changes or just an artistic strategy? What is the purpose of artistic pranks and mischief?

A family who loves art together stays together!





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Politics and Pickles

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The Life and Loves of Frederic Chopin (and other fun things)

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.

Exterior of Green Building at University

Thad walking grounds of Univ

Walking to the Green Roof

La Mamma del Cielo

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.

Emilia in front of Chopin Museum

Entering Museum

Musical Twister in Chopin Museum

Quotes from Chopin and his philosophy on composing

Chopin’s sister, Emilia

At the time of Chopin in Poland…

Musical room

Looking at map of Warsaw during life of Chopin

Mom in front of Franz Liszt piano

Why travel to Poland?  (for Uncle Blair!)

New Stadium that was built for World Cup

Thad as Copernicus

Back in the land of…

La Mamma in Royal Castle Square

Sunny day

I didn’t drink this.

Welcoming words from Pope John Paul II

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All together in Warsaw


The Scene:  Warsaw

The Players:

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)

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Nothing like a homemade sign from your parents to greet you at the Warsaw airport!

Thaddeus got one, too, in all fairness 🙂

We are off to a great adventure.  Stay tuned.




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Last Walk in Warsaw

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.

last evening in Warsaw



he loves to sketch wherever, whenever he can!

cherry vodka at end of meal = love


leaving art gallery

fountains on the walk

mom in front of fountain

Guarded tomb of fallen soliders of Poland

this is guarded 24 hours a day and columns surround it listing each war dating back to the 900s

My dad told us about each battle listed

Side view of the Guarded Tomb

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.

Teatr Wielki


mom in opera house

leaving the Old Square behind

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!

Happy Travels!

PS – if you care to follow my adventures in Naples, please see:  https://travelsinnaples.wordpress.com


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How Royally Bittersweet it is….our Last Day

this about says it!

Today we explored the opulent rooms of the Royal Castle of Warsaw.  Nearly totally destroyed in 1939, it was rebuilt on the basis of thee only surviving parts.  It was once the headquarters of the king and authorities of “Rzeczpospolita” – the Republic of Poland (since the 16th century.)  It is also where the Constitution of May 3rd (1791) – the first one in Europe and the second one in the world was adopted.

Today it is a musuem that houses room after room of the most gorgeous inlaid wood floors I have ever seen with opulent gold fixtures and exquisite furniture.  For the highlights, we revisit Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto here, for his verdute of 18th century Warsaw.  These paintings were invaluable during the post-war reconstruction of the city.

And today we had the special treat of seeing the Titian painting on loan from Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

Royal Castle Square

After our tour of the Royal Castle, we headed for something sweet.  Famous worldwide, E. Wedel has been making savory chocolates since 1851.   Made with milk and dark chocolate, the Poles have a knack for incorporating fruits like cherries, plums, and apricots and making it divine.

facade of E. Wedel, Warsaw

inside it looks like a cafe in Vienna

my mom smelling the roses at their outdoor cafe

We are off to our farwell dinner – another bittersweet event as we are sad to be leaving this marvelous city that we have enjoyed so much!

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Two kinds of people in the world?

Vacation time makes you relax…think about the world, your surroundings, how others live, and how those before them survived.  So as I am enjoying mussel night in Warsaw (seriously, it’s on Thursday), I can’t help but think about the types of people in the world.

My mom loves mussels – it is her favorite dish.  I like them fine but I don’t like to get messy so my strategy is to schuck?/peel?/de-cant?  I don’t know what the word is – but essentially, get the mussel – all of them – out of the shell before consuming and thereby, create some sort of mussel soup.  Then I can wash my hands and enjoy.  On the other hand, my mom likes to leisurely enjoy each mussel, using her eccentric Italian hands to tell her stories, and dropping each shell one by one into a separate bowl over time.

We both savor our mussels – just in different means to the end.

mom with mussels

which brings me to the the Warsaw Uprising.  But I see it listed in the museum guide as Warsaw Rising Museum.  Does one person see the Warsaw Uprising as a singular event that marks a difficult period of time? Or sees it as an Uprising –  a continuous philosophy of progress for Warsaw and the nation, as a whole?

Or how about the half-moon that we saw in the sky tonight as we sauntered home….or was it a pierogi that hung in the black borscht bowl of atmosphere?

there is a pierogi in the sky

Contemplating the meaning of life in the piazza...oops, I mean square (rynek)

Either way, vacation has a way of nudging your mind to process life a little differently.  Or with a new perspective.  With a new appreciation.  And, in the end, isn’t that why we travel?   We are grateful as we process God’s amazing creations all in new ways.  Enjoy!

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Paying homage to the Polish Military

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.

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“Canaletto” in Warsaw

Bernardo Bellotto   was born in Venice but died in Warsaw.  He was an urban landscape painter or vedutista, and printmaker in etching famous for his vedutes of European cities (Dresden, Vienna, Turin and Warsaw). He was the pupil and nephew of Canaletto and sometimes used the latter’s illustrious name, signing himself as Bernardo Canaletto. Especially in Germany, paintings attributed to Canaletto may actually be by Bellotto rather than by his uncle; in Poland, they are by Bellotto, who is known here as “Canaletto”.

Here are some great street kiosks of his paintings with the church he painted behind it.

you can see the painting and then behind it - the church

this was hard to capture during rush hour!

the very famous painting of the street, Nowy Swiat

View of Warsaw from the Praga bank, painted 1770

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