Monday, July 8, 2013

Wonderful Warsaw

Without a doubt the happiest moment of our trip was when we saw Addison's smiling face waiting to greet us at the Warsaw Chopin Airport. The four months he spent studying architecture in Poland had felt especially long. We were eager to be back in his company and experience the life he had been living.

Maddie and Addison in Warsaw

I did not really have any expectations about what I thought Warsaw would be like because I didn't do a lot of advance planning for our visit there. I knew Addison would be our tour guide, so I sat back and let him take the reins. He did a fabulous job, not that I would of expected anything otherwise. 

Polish is a very difficult language. There are so many consonants. I can speak a little French, and a tiny bit of German, but I was completely lost trying to comprehend Polish. Addison had learned enough to get by. I was impressed with his effort and confidence leading us around. Warsaw has an efficient tram system that he navigated with ease. It was especially fun to visit the Politechnika Warszawski Wydzil Architecktury (Warsaw School of Architecture) and the Warsaw University of Technology where Addison had spent so much of the past few months and meet his kind professors and gracious Polish friends. 

Warsaw School of Architecture

Warsaw University of Technology (Roof)

Warsaw University of Technology

Warsaw has beautiful architecture, but much of it was destroyed during World War II. Most was meticulously rebuilt to its original grandeur. Charming and vibrant, Old Town and New Town are the most visited areas of Warsaw. 

Old Town

Old Town Square

Warsaw is one of the few European cities to have a large part of the original city wall, begun in the 14th century, still intact.  Parts that were damaged during the war have been restored.

The Barbican and City Walls

New Town

New Town

Palace of Culture and Science

After enjoying the energy and vitality of the city it was nice to retreat to Lazienki Park. The deep wooded park has lovely buildings, gardens, and feisty peacocks. With all the old buildings in Europe there is always renovation or restoration being done. I love how they often camouflage the work with scaffolding that looks like what is behind it. If you look closely at the Palace on the Water you will see what I mean.

Palace on the Water

Feisty Peacock

Palace on the Water

I suppose it is ironic that I write about food and yet I kept forgetting to photograph what we were eating. I usually remembered several bites in. The food in Warsaw was substantial, but very good. We ate delicious pierogies and beer, but only the beer made the picture.

The last night we were there Addison took us to a favorite restaurant of his - C. K. Oberza. I had kaczka feldmarszalka (Field Marshall duck). Wafer thin, crisp skin covered tender roast duck meat that fell from the bone. It was served with roasted apples, cranberries, and delicious red cabbage. It makes my mouth water just writing about it. Again there is no photo because I was too busy devouring it. If you happen to be in Warsaw go have the duck or their fabulous plate of sausages (Royal Board Meats) that Addison enjoyed.

I have often joked that if Addison were a dinosaur he would of been a T-Rex because he is the carnivore of the family. Not surprisingly, I have the sweet-tooth. I am always in search of the best treats. But Maddie made one of the best discoveries in Warsaw - Grycan - an awesome ice cream store. Dare I say some of the best ice cream I have ever eaten. I don't say that lightly, as I have eaten a lot of great ice cream in my life. The flavors were so fresh and intense.

You could enjoy the ice cream or sorbet on a cone or in a delicate waffle bowl. Or go all out and order a decadent sundae. While Addison had discovered many wonderful things about Warsaw he had some how missed Grycan. He was sad to have found it at the end of his time in Warsaw.

Grycan Pistachio Ice Cream and Raspberry Sorbet

Grycan Sundaes

Warsaw has a great feel to it. It is so alive and energetic. It is a big city, with a lot of people, but it doesn't feel crowded or over-whelming. There were tourists, like ourselves, but mostly it was just locals enjoying what all their city has to offer. Thanks Warsaw for a wonderful time.

Glow in the dark vintage Volkswagen Beetles

Monday, July 1, 2013

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles... and a Gondola

In the past month we have used all forms of transportation on our wonderful European adventure. We flew on multiple airlines, rode trains, took a bus or two, rode trams and metros, drove a car, and took a gondola ride. We covered a lot of ground. Luckily, our travels were smooth, but getting from point A to point B, especially on an airplane, is not as easy as it used to be.

I don't enjoy taking a good majority of my clothes off in an airport, especially my shoes. Regardless of what I remove I always seem to be singled out for an additional search. I find it hard to fit my toiletries in a quart-size Ziploc. My hair products alone could fill more than that. But I suppose bad hair and a little discomfort is a small price to pay for security. Minor annoyances aside, I marvel at the transportation systems in Europe. Whether on a train, tram, bus, or metro getting around is easy and efficient.

We were on a train from Budapest to Vienna that had to be rerouted because of flooding in Central Europe. For our safety, midway through our train ride everyone was put on a bus and driven to another town to board a different train to continue on our journey. The detour added about an hour to our trip, but we were well informed and safe. Compared to those suffering from the flooding it was just a small inconvenience.

While the good old days of flying are gone - think Pan Am, china, silver, and real linens, some airlines still get it right. Part of our journey was on Airberlin. They realize a well-fed crowd is a happy, sleepy lot and more likely to stay content during the long flight over the pond. Airline food has never been 'fine dining', but the quality has improved greatly. It felt like they fed us every few hours. They also distributed a little travel pack for our comfort which included socks, sleep mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, and the all important earplugs to block out any unpleasant noise.

We each had our own private television screens to watch an endless array of complimentary movies and television shows. If that wasn't enough just when boredom was about to set in there was another snack delivered with a clever cocktail napkin showing us how to make a flower, just in case we weren't sufficiently entertained.

My attempt at making the rose was not the best, but it did keep me occupied. All this fine treatment was in Economy Class. It made me wonder what was going on in First Class? A+ Airberlin keep up the good work.