After years of travelling to Poland and competing at some of the various seaside towns I have finally made it to the Polish capital, Warsaw (Warszawa). I guess you make the impressions of what you think a city will be like in your head based on the countryside and experiences you have already had in that particular country. So when I came to Warsaw I was really expecting something completely different; maybe just a larger version of Sopot or Gdansk or something… When I finally parked the car in Warsaw I was pleasantly (and completely) suprised!
Warsaw is a fairly decent sized city; population around 1.7 million (not too dissimilar to the population of my hometown, Brisbane actually) however you get the impression the city is much bigger due to the wider roads and large distance between the taller buildings in the city centre. Granted, this is a relatively new city in European terms as I imagine most of it was destroyed during the war however our tourguide Hubert (POL-25) tells me a lot of the city, for example, Old Town was rebuilt to look the same using photographs and plans taken before the war.
As soon as I set foot into Aleja (one of the main streets in the city centre), I immediately feel that I am in Melboure – one of the bigger Australian cities. I guess the resemblance is there mostly because of the trams in the middle of the roads and the wide lanes and space between the streets. Nothing is cramped together in Warsaw, in fact, everything has its own place and its like the city was built to deal with 10 million tourists at a time – the sidewalks are very wide and everything seems so spread out. Going out to few nightspots and cafe’s later in the week with Hubert and my manager Kate I really felt the similarities to Melbourne (and other cities in Australia) again as the top nightclubs are almost identical to what we experience in Australia albeit the drinks were considerably more expensive and the girls most certainly a lot higher quality :)
A lot of the top Polish windsurfers all live in Warsaw as well as Steve Allen (AUS-0), the Polish adopted Aussie and for a time I wondered why they would choose to live so far from the ocean (although I am told there is a lake nearby in Warsaw which you can windsurf at). Having now seen Warsaw (finally!) I can really understand why they choose to live here as I felt it one of the more liveable cities in my travels through Europe. There is still the complete Polish vibe to the place; ie, the thousands of 24 hour Kebab shops in the cities, the Police who don’t seem to care about a drunken man passed out in a train station (that’s another story!) and the many Polish Warsawians who asked me for money whenever I wanted directions to somewhere (what’s up with that?! Just point me in the direction of the street – I’m not paying you $10 to take me there!!) – however brought forth a real feeling of homesickness for the first time in my trip, due to the similarities between it and the bigger Australian cities on the East coast.
I certainly enjoyed my time in Warsaw and hope I will get to visit it again soon!!