Praga

After a long walk (it felt long because of the heat!) over the bridge from the old town, I reached the area of Praga. St. Florian’s Cathedral (Katedra Świętego Michała Archanioła i Świętego Floriana) was the first building I spotted, built in 1902, it was destroyed in 1944, and then rebuilt – finally restored by 1972.

As evident from the poor maintenance of a lot of the old buildings, Praga felt like a poor area of Warsaw. It is known to have a bad reputation in the city, although I didn’t visit here at night, so I can’t judge on that…

Pre-war buildings that survived the Seige of Warsaw.

Some interesting looking buildings across the rail tracks at the Warszawa Wilenska station.

Koneser Vodka Factory

Soho Factory

On the street leading up to the Soho Factory (which houses the Neon Museum), called Minska, the quietness of the area made it feel kind of eery.

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The stoney, socialist walls of Warsaw

A reminder of Warsaw’s not so distant past stands high on the skyline. The Palace of Culture and Science, built between 1952 and 1955, as ‘a gift from the Soviet Union’, is a prime example of the typical Stalinist ‘wedding cake’ architecture.

Palace of Culture and Science (in Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki)

After a quick check on wikipedia, I have just found out that on the statue book under the name Lenin, ‘Stalin’ was plastered over!

The interior of the observation deck at the Palace of Culture and Science.

The interior…

Statues  depicting socialist model workers on Marszałkowska.

On Aleje Jerozolimskie stands the former Communist Party HQ (Dom Partii). In front of this building is an artificial palm tree created by the Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska, called Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue.

The BGK building (the Polish state-run bank)

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Park Łazienkowski

Park Łazienkowski was created in the 17th century, and the Łazienkowski Palace was completed in 1689. It’s a lovely large park to explore, and provides a nice contrast to the urban city.

Belweder Palace can be seen in the background of the photo below. Between 1989 and 1994, the Polish president resided here.

RED squirrels – a rare sight for an English person!

The statues outside the Łazienkowski Palace (pałac Łazienkowski)

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Warsaw, Warszawa

A couple of weeks ago, I travelled east to the Polish capital of Warsaw. The city centre is a mixture of reconstructed pre-war buildings, socialist grey architecture of tower blocks and the imposing Stalinist style, neon signs and brightly coloured advertising, and post 1989 contemporary architecture of shiny office blocks and the football stadium. The typical Coca Cola/McDonalds signs of capitalism are smacked across building facades, and the city has a number of ‘modern’ coffee chains, which I feel is a lot more evident here than in Germany (especially in Berlin).

Although I bought a Polish phrasebook, the language is not the easiest to pronounce, and so even though I read through the book a lot, I left Poland only being able to speak about four words! This language barrier proved a slight challenge when in a small convenience shop where the customer must tell the shop assisant what they would like. I can’t count to 5 in Polish, and the number 1 has three different genders!!! Pointing at beers and counting with fingers, whilst speaking words in English to a woman who spoke to me in Polish was the way to go. Fortunately, all the younger generations can speak English!

The dividing river of Germany and Poland as seen from the Berlin-Warsaw Express train.

The first thing I wanted to try out when I arrived in Warsaw was a visit to one of the city’s milk bars (in Polish, bar mleczny). So for lunch, I had vegetable pancakes & a red cabbage salad at Bar Bambino for only 2 euros!!

A patchwork of tumbling wilderness and pre- and post- iron wall concrete create this assault course of a city to walk across. Its an adventure in itself to reach the river, which feels like one is on the rugged outskirts of a city, when in fact it is its centre.

Sand dunes at the River Vistula (Wisła)

One of the many neon signs.

Warszawa Stadion

Krakowskie Przedmiescie

The old town

The old town market place (Rynek Starego Miasta)

The Saxon Garden (Ogród Saski) faces Piłsudski Square. Open since 1727, it is the oldest public park in Warsaw and one of the world’s first.

Old & new style builds sit together

The ‘PW’ (standing for Polska Walczaca) that can be seen on the top of this building is the Warsaw resistance symbol of the Warsaw Uprising in WWII.

The view from the observation deck at the top of the Palace of Culture & Science.

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Hamburg

Last weekend I visited Hamburg. With all the bicycles, harbourside, old warehouses, and the wealthy feeling of Hamburg’s clean streets and tidy infrastructure, it felt quite like a Dutch city, but on a bigger scale of course!

Reeperbahn

The Reeperbahn, which is the main street in Hamburg’s red light district, is the obvious nightlife hub, with the ‘normal’ clubs interspersed between venues of a more seedy affair. Chart music is the choice for the clubs here, along with people dressed up for a night out, it made a fun change from the standard Berlin techno & casual wear scene!

Max-Brauer-Allee

Frappant, in the Altona district

A music & art event in an artist warehouse complex. It felt like a little piece of Berlin (or Hackney Wick!) set in Hamburg (with pounding drums not techno)…

Harbour

Canal

Deichstrasse

Town hall

Alsterarkaden

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