Monday, September 7, 2009

Warsaw, Poland

I decided to take the “express” train from Krakow to Warsaw, Poland’s capital. This train took 3 hours, versus 5 hours for the regular train. The train ticket cost 97 Zloty, almost double the 50 Zloty for the regular train. The first thing I noticed about this train was how “new” the train cars were. The last time I was in a non-decrepit train was in Greece. The scenery along the way was gorgeous, with lush fields and rolling hills. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how your opinion), this verdant landscape is due to copious amounts of rainfall.

Warsaw is famous for its restored old town with castle. The city suffered massive destruction during WWII and hence all the restoration. Old Town Square, with its multicolored buildings with designs, was the most impressive area.

My highlight, though, had to be visiting two festivals, the Jewish Festival and the Multicultural Festival. Cser Joanna brought me to both of them, and I felt like a local for once. At the Jewish Festival, we listened to live Klemzer music, ate palmiers and challah. The festival was located in the Jewish quarter, a run-down neighborhood of 19th century brown buildings with courtyards. The Multicultural Festival, on the other hand, was located in the Bohemian quarter of Praga. There, we watched a Samba parade and listened to Balkan music. Several countries/regions has booths displaying food, arts and performances. One of my favorite displays was the Vietnamese music puppet show.

My last European overnight trip was a bus from Warsaw to Vilnius, Lithuania. The bus was very comfortable, with a bathroom on board. The bus even arrived 30 minutes early!

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