Warsaw was exactly what I needed.
Now anyone who reads this regularly might be scratching their heads at this point. I have professed to not being a big fan of cities and especially capitals. In fact my experiences in Poland with busy roads pretty much from the border to Warsaw and the negotiation of the urban sprawl of that city to reach the centre, should suggest negative feelings. However Warsaw (and to a lesser degree Poland so far) has been redeemed by two main features.
The first is it’s history. It definitely has the most interesting recent history of any city I’ve visited so far. I actually was a ‘proper’ tourist for a bit and joined a free ‘orange umbrella’ tour of the old town on my day off. Most of the city was destroyed during the second world war and was rebuilt in the last 40 years. It is a glowing example of why authoritarian regimes should be resisted at all costs having suffered at the hands of both Hitler and Stalin.
The second thing that led to me enjoying Warsaw were people. I stayed with a Warmshowers host called Anna. She was great, friendly and hospitable. It was good to swap stories and discuss cycle touring, languages and experiences of different countries. I also found possibly my favourite bar I’ve ever drunk in. It’s in the old town and called Same Krafty. The bar serves great Polish craft beer and also plays great music thanks to Katka who works behind the bar there. She also furnished me with some much needed conversation about beer, music, life and again language.
I already know that people can really make places but I was definitely suffering a bit from loneliness before Warsaw and in need of some human interaction. So Warsaw really gave me a boost. I’m now back on slightly quieter roads south feeling refreshed and re-energised. The half way point has just passed for this trip and to be honest with where I am and how much time I have there are lots of options for routes to get back to Rotterdam. I know that none of them need be very direct. Let’s explore!