Saturday, July 26, 2008

Warsaw Warriors

We have arrived!

Lufthansa labor actions and massive jet lag have been unable to derail us. We found each other easily. Our bikes are assembled and in largely functional condition. Nobody appears to have digestive problems (yet). The hostel where we're staying celebrated its third birthday yesterday, translating into free brewskis for guests. (No, brewski isn't actually Polish.) And we have yet to get into a major disagreement so far.

Some quick observations on Warsaw: it's a quiet town. Real quiet. Maybe that's because it's a Saturday in late July and everyone's off the beach, but for the nation's capital there isn't a lot of energy. Which, on the plus side, makes for nice and easy bike riding.

Today we checked out the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which commemorates the 180,000 Poles who revolted against German control in 1944. The Poles fought back because they assumed the Soviets - who were amassed on the other side of the Vistula River - would crash in and clean out the Germans. Instead, Stalin waited for the Germans to put down the revolt and kill off all the Polish leaders, as those savvy ultra-nationalists could be trouble later. 180,000 Poles died.

The museum looked very modern, but I don't think it was that effective--I'm still not sure how the Poles lost, other than overwhelming German strength. I also found the museum very Catholic-heavy, with much greater space devoted to important clergy as opposed to, say, the Jewish situation. Then again, someone in the hostel made the point that this is really a museum for the Poles, not the Jews--who have many other memorials--and while I'm not completely swayed by that argument, there's probably some value in that. A lot of value in that if you ask a Pole.
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