Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday Strolls

Well, for me, there is nothing better than crisp skies, warming sunshine, blooms, blossoms and the chance to walk the streets with someone whose company you adore. So on Sunday Marty and I went into the heart of the city. We are always searching for markets, the last one we were able to explore was the Kolo market Northeast of Warsaw. This Sunday we thought it would be great to venture more and find something else, something traditional and of a long term existence. So we grabbed the sneaky bus (named so because it always manages to sneak past early or late from our stop and so I will tend to miss it often) all the way into central Warsaw and the Nowy Swiat (which means new world), it really is the heart of town. When we arrived there, the street was bathed in sunshine creating some gorgeous shadows, reflections and refractions of the sunlight. It was an inspiring thing to see when you have your camera in hand and time to burn. However, before going snap happy we ventured to our main reason for coming into town. A milky bar, or in Polish "Bar Mleczny"(read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_bar), one of many scattered around Warsaw and maybe around the country, I am not sure. They are remnants of the communist era and are full of old people, students and even the odd family enjoying the food, or at least enjoying the price. The one we visited, "Bar Mleczny Familijny" is located right on New World Street, and is, to put it bluntly, bland in appearance, lacking finery and with the distinct appearance that it was decorated by someone with a love of linoleum and differing shades of brown. As you will have read from the link above, they aren't meant to be glamorous and are also the cheapest eats you will find anywhere in town. For those of you who are fans of the Simpsons, just imagine lunch lady Doris combined with Agnes Skinner and you can picture the old ladies who work there. Grumpy, slopping plates down, spilling the soup at the counter, mumbling to each other about how people look, but to me, this is the greatest part of the experience. I loved seeing them treating everyone with the same level of disdain as if they were still stuck in the communist era and needing to be a good comrade. I ate the traditional bigos, Marty had sweet pierogi (Dumplings with soft white cheese inside and covered with thin cream and sugar). We also had two bottles of water and all this set us back a whopping 12.50PLN ($AUD5.20, EUR2.88, GBP2.53).

So after this pleasant and supercheap meal we strolled to Mirów (Miroov) which is one of the neighbourhoods of the Wola district just West of the City and the Wisla (Vistula) River. We love markets so we strolled to the Hale Mirowskie (Har-le Mirov-ski) which was constructed between 1899-1901 and was then the largest trade centre for Warsaw, until the Uprising in 1944, where most of this was destroyed by the Germans. There are now only two market halls remaining, unfortunately they are not open on Sundays, but we were able to stroll around in them a little, also to see the outside which had been sprayed with bullets during previous fighting. The markets are really beautiful and the brick facades make a great diversion from the area, which is mostly surrounded in concrete, or con-cretin, as I like to call them, structures.

After there we wanted to continue seeing some old relics of the past that Warsaw finds it hard to show as there aren't many remaining. So we continued on to the area of the old Ghetto. This was the small ghetto, the larger one being further North. We found the location of the old wall and walked the streets around there, observing some of the very few brick buildings remaining (there really are not many at all). Then we had the greatest stroke of luck. We were walking along past an old Jewish Silver Factory called Norblin. It is about a block worth of old factory. We saw the gate was open and started walking in, where we were stopped by a guard who said we could only come in if we had tickets to the theatre event that was on there. We said we didn't have tickets but would really love to look around the old factory, if we could. He said it was fine as long as we didn't take any pictures..... hmmm tough choice. So we didn't take any pictures................. in front of him! :) It was a most extraordinary location, full of old rusting machinery and in need of desperate repair to seal roof holes the size of cars. Then Marty remembered that it was to be knocked down to build an exciting new development, that is, wait for it, a shopping complex! Wow! However, it is said that it will still be beneficial to society, as it will have locations where you can buy coffee. Phew, praise the lord for this! I cannot tell you how magical it was to see this old factory. It was great to have these little holes to peak through and the contrast of bright blaring sunlight and pitch blackness in other areas. Although it makes it nearly impossible to photograph something and make it look decent. I was there with a heavy heart when we knew it was to be flattened, as it is one of the very few things that is pre-war in Warsaw, let alone in this area of Warsaw, where the Uprising gave the Germans the excuse to burn and dynamite the majority of the area. This really is a treasure and I could envisage many great spaces for Warsaw's artistic community to come, collaborate and enjoy a quiet space in the centre of the city. I don't know what I can do, or what anyone can do to stop the "progress" of another shopping mall. I hope the "Global Crisis" is able to stop it, as it appears the Polish Government are not interested in this sort of heritage.

After this we needed to satisfy ourselves and returned home to drink some Hungarian white wine and eat some small Spanakopita (Feta and Spinach pastry parcels) that I had been thinking about making for a long time.


Magdalena said...

It's not Hakie Mirowskie but Hala Mirowska :D

Garth said...

haha yeah I saw that in the pics, but never got around to correcting it..... maybe one day :)

Jason said...

Does this mean you're officially now known as the milky bar kid in Poland?

Garth said...

Yes indeed, cowboy hat and all! Very fetching I have to say! :)

Joy said...

Love the wacky windows photo too!

I wonder what the Norblin site will look like 5 years from now. I wish I had taken more photos around here from when we first arrived. The new metro line construction will definitely change the area too!

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