When Dutch people think of Poland, they think of Eastern Europe, and that makes them think of war, communism, gray colors and old buildings. When you ask a Dutch person to describe a Polish person, he or she will probably joke about white vans, drunk and hard working people. It is totally unfair, cause from all I have seen of Poland in the past few months (I went to Gdansk in December), that is not true at all.
Cafe Bristol, Warsaw
Currently I am spending a beautiful spring day in Warsaw. I am writing this article at Cafe Bristol, which opened its doors in 1901, having survived the second world war. It is located on the ground floor of the Bristol Hotel, a place where celebrities often stay now, and during the war time German officials would. It is extremely fancy, very high class hotel and the cafe is amazing too. An old man just tried to give me his phone number. It was rather sweet, he was here with his nephew from Italy, having some cake, and he was talking to me about Luxembourg. A Polish man, missing Warsaw, now living in Luxembourg for some reason. He said he wanted me to come over, so I should call him whenever I would be in the neighborhood. Very sweet.
Anyway, the reason I am in Warsaw is that I have visited a game studio yesterday. We arrived in a very snowy Warsaw, which I loved. Everything was white, big snow flakes coming down and it was a very romantic, wintery scenery. We checked into our hotel, the Ibis outside of the city center, and we went to the studio to play a few games. The interesting part was talking to the developers. It is an indie studio so we had some discussions about how indie game makers are struggling, how they gave up their safe day jobs to follow their dreams and how those dreams are sometimes tainted because of bad reviews.
Polish dumplings: Pierogi
It was so interesting to me, cause it is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. A lot. I will write a separate blog on that, cause there is so much to say. And I want to discuss Warsaw with you. It is such an amazing city! Yesterday we had a very traditional Polish dinner at Gosciniec Polskie Pierogi. Pierogi is a kind of dumpling that comes in many varieties. As a veggie I was enjoying some mushroom and sauerkraut ones and some spinach and garlic ones, really amazing. The starter was a barszcz, a pretty light soup made of beetroots. It was really good, and there was some honey-like apple juice to accompany the dinner.
Afterwards we went to this horror house, which I did not end up doing because there were actors that would actually touch the guests. No thanks. I do not really get frightened easily, so I thought: I am not just going in there to be walking around in the dark getting touched by strangers, hihi. It’s weird, I know. After the apparently very spooky haunted house we went back to the game studio for some cocktails, they were excellent. It was about 00.30 when I asked for an Uber back to the hotel. I got up at 05:00 the morning before to catch my flight, while just getting back from Paris, so I was knackered.
Spring in Warsaw
After a good night of sleep (eight hours!) I got out of bed, had some breakfast and relaxed in my room for a bit before the studio picked us up for the sightseeing tour. It was really awesome, cause it is a beautiful, beautiful day today. It is really spring weather: sunny, blue skies… Our tour guide was a great guy, his English was perfect, he told interesting stories and all in all it was simply a lovely two hour walk around town. Mainly the old part of town, which is amazing. So many terrible war stories though.. Almost all statues are filled with bullet holes (which they patched up, but you can still see it).
It was an amazing stroll around town, we have seen the changing of the soldiers at the monument for the unknown soldiers that were lost, and we went into this gorgeous church, where the nun actually grabbed my arm to show me something (or to convert me, cause I obviously need to be taught some discipline, hihi. There are approximately 25 nuns living in that place, some of them for 50 years already. Wow. It was really cool how she just grabbed my arm, even though I just said I do not like to be touched, it felt a bit like in a Buddhist temple when a monk touches your arm to put on a bracelet (after a year I am still wearing mine from Japan, never even once taken it off).
Anyway, it was great, and now I am sitting here at this beautiful cafe, enjoying myself. There is still a lot of writing to do, and a lot of thinking too, but that will be fine. In a few hours I will be flying back home and then my next trip will probably be Ireland, fingers crossed! If there is one thing I have learned over this past week, it is that travel and writing to me are not just hobbies. I need them both equally, I love them both equally and I should do more with them equally too…