Afternoon in Warsaw

The rain patter against the floor to ceiling window and I sit reclined in an armchair with my feet on the table. Outside the leafy poplars are tinted in fiery colors, commingling and gently swaying in the mild October breeze. People haste slowly in the windswept streets, holding their collars and looking down the pavement to shut out the cold. A gloomy shadow has been thrown over the everyday life of Warsaw and fall has arrived without notice, once again.

I prefer these transitional seasons. When whistling gusts and smacking downpours are the sounds of the weather and the temperature falls below freezing. When warmth has to be looked for, and people dress up in layers to find it. Knee-length coats and frayed scarves; knitted sweaters and leather gloves. When the streets deplete, and the cities lit up by street lights and neon signs. The quiet times of the year bespoke for the most perseverant of people.

Warsaw is a considerably small capital by Eastern European measures. The streets may be Soviet-wide, but the architecture is low-key, only sporadically ornamented with curved ends and florals around the eaves and window frames. Art Nouveau at it’s finest. I love art nouveau. Elderly houses in ocher, and dull colors flank the wide roads and narrow pathways of the city center, and it’s hard not to get carried away looking up at them while sauntering the sidewalks downtown. A city so graspable and humble simultaneously. From the top of the Palace of Culture and Science, you can see this for yourself. Views who are like vivid postcards are always the best ones.

My favorite part of Warsaw is it’s Old Town. Somewhere amongst the cobblestoned streets, the church spires and the plethora of cozy taverns rubbing shoulders with each other, there’s a respectful vibe. It’s like a free library, where loud voices and running are strongly discouraged. It tends to be like this in places which are intrinsically cultural. Couples walk closely entwined, and students sit with their books open in the many coffee shops, and there are more laughter and jovial tones ion the street than in the rest of the city. The restaurants have lanterns on the wall and rustic wooden furniture around the tables. The assortments of both drink and game are overwhelming, and ridiculously cheap by international measures. The Polish cuisine is a new horizon and a pleasant acquaintance I soon realize. Chilled coleslaw made from apples, steamy dumplings with god-knows-what fillings and sausages the size of cucumbers. Simple, but delicious.

People you ask for directions in the streets, as well as the staff in stores and eateries, speak perfect English, and it soon becomes apparent that this is the international corner of Warsaw. And it has to be said, even if the outlandish scenes of foreign cities are the most appealing, there comes a time when you just want to shirk from constant misunderstandings och miscommunications, and when someone who understands you feels just like that first cup of coffee in the morning. Never an exception, never.

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