Strolling through the streets of Warsaw, it struck me as a very modern city. This relates back to it being levelled in World War II, so everything had to be completely rebuilt. There’s a very intimidating atmosphere (I thought) walking underneath the skyscrapers. The central building, the Palace of Science and Culture, is really fucking scary to be around. I don’t know if anyone else ever feels it, but it gave me the shivers. Amazing building, but something about it was incredibly unsettling. Beautiful for what it was though, and I’m glad I got to experience it. It stands out really strangely among the other skyscrapers though, as the others are far more recently built. I noted in my diary that it looked like the Eye of Sauron.
The Old Town in Warsaw is beautiful, apparently it’s the only part of the city that wasn’t destroyed in the war. It’s kind of strange how it situates itself in such a modern landscape. Still, it has its merits. We got sick ice-cream there, it was gorgeous.
One of the standout moments in Warsaw was meeting another friend on the road. I come from a relatively sheltered upbringing (at least I think so). I was hoping to hitch with more people, so after chatting to a lady in another hitch hiking group, we decided to grab a beer. This was a lady who’d squatted in London for years, homemade tattoos everywhere, hitching alone through Europe with her gorgeous dog, Choco. Lest ye say, something else was realised in me that day. The whole counter-cultural attitude resonating from her made me realise that it’s not all about corporatism, consumerism, all the -isms, or money. Genuinely, she was one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of being in the presence of. She was so happy with everyone, just people in general, at a time when I needed a bit of a lift that I’m forever in her debt. An odd message between us every now and then shows she’s doing well. I’m happy. We made plans to travel together at some stage, as she had a different agenda, and eventually met again in Romania. In my diary I simply noted, ‘she’s a real spirit.’
From Warsaw I headed down to Krakow to stay with my friend’s friends. I cheated and got a train as they’re incredibly cheap in Eastern Europe. Krakow is a phenomenally beautiful old city, and to stroll around is wondrous. I refuse to use public transport most of the time, as I feel you don’t get to experience the city. Sure, it’ll tear your calf muscles, but you get to breathe in the city as the city breathes and reverberates around you. That’s what travel should be, no?
I spent a couple of days in Krakow, cycling along the river, whose charm blew my mind. We cycled far, far from the city centre, sat down and had a cheeky beverage. Good times in the sun, chilling, nothing to do and nowhere to go. It’s these times I miss when I’m cooped up in the library all day. Sure, I’ll apply myself – which I believe is important – but the wonder of relaxing outside Krakow, a city I hardly knew existed, with a beer and my mates by my side is something hard to clear from memory. Especially when it’s raining and you’ve to cycle home. Yin and yang as they say.
My friends brought me to a small traditional restaurant and showed me pancakes with spinach, and garlic oil sauce over the top. Fuckin’ hell. No idea what they were called but they were amazing. They also took me to a van where a guy sold sausages cooked on a grill. Apparently he was a bit of an attraction, and I’ll be damned if those sausages weren’t unbelievable. It’s the small things.
From a wonderful couple of days in Krakow, I headed towards Prague, and I’ll continue that in the next article. Poland was great, and I love the people there. Managed to scoot over before college started this year, in September, to see my friends. Like I said before, it’s wonderful to stay in contact with the people you meet on the road. There’s something about meeting a person on the road that resonates so much deeper. Maybe it’s just me.
Until next time, peace and love. Take it easy.
Polish vodka is dangerously great.
Here’s a few photos from Warsaw and Krakow:
And some more dank Polish reggae: