Short visit to Warsaw – part IV

Krakowskie Przedmieście towards Old Town Castle place
Krakowskie Przedmieście towards Old Town Castle place

Today the guided city tour and my appointment with Marta – the licensed private tour-guide – was scheduled for 10:00 o’clock. She was supposed to pick me up at the hotel, directly. I was curious if it will work.

After almost seven hours of sleep (the walls are not that noise insulating but …) I did get an excellent breakfast at my hotel. Returning back down to the reception my tour-guide was waiting for me. She did have a comfortable car and we started our tour after she was informed by me what to do and what to see. I am widely open to everything because I am a Novice to Warsaw and I like to make the best out of my stay.

We started right at the corner of ul. Stalowa because many movies have been shot here in Praga. Directors love the urbanity and the “still post WWII” attitude of this suburb. While Marta was driving she explained who directed the films (for example Roman Polanski: The Piano) and when the motion picture movies have been shot (Steven Spielberg: The Schindler’s List). It might attract movie fanatics but for me as a former film and TV technology reporter/journalist there was no need to dig deeper into it.

Our tour continued and we passed by the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene which I decided not to visit at this point. Maybe a little later but …

Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene
Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene

From here we crossed the river Vistula and she guided my through the university quarter that grabs my attention because of its very modern design and the openness of the new library that was opened to the public in Dec 1999. The distinct building includes a botanical garden, located on the roof.

Further on Marta drove towards the Hotel Bristol where we parked the car to walk into Old Town after we did visit the inside of the Art Nouveau building that was constructed between 1899 and 1900. Fortunate enough it survived WWII relatively unscathed. It was the headquarter of the Chief of the Warsaw district during war times and was standing nearly alone among the rubble of its neighbourhood in spring 1945. The hotel was renovated and reopened in the same year.

The view from the 7th floor over the town might be breathtaking when the sun is shining, but with misty weather it wasn’t that beautiful.

Back on Krakowskie Przedmieście she explained how this street and the surrounding area looked about over two hundred years ago. The image I got was very nice and we walked on to reach the Castle square. Visiting this area in bright sunshine brings you different emotions. Unfortunately – it didn’t rain, which was fortunate enough – when we reached the Royal Castel square it was windy, all wet and very unpleasant. Marta explained what happened to the Royal Castle during WWII and how it was re-erected after the ruination by the German bombs and why we nowadays can enjoy it again in its old beauty: all construction plans have been saved and therefore it could be reconstructed.

I was overwhelmed by all the information I did receive about the times while German occupation was in progress. Me, as a Pacifist, I couldn’t understand why all this happened. But this was only the first step into the young Polish history of the last century.

There is more to come – please continue reading.

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