Castle Square, which I’m sure also had to be restored after the Second World War. I was enchanted by the old architecture and the colors used in the buildings. In this square was the King Sigismund Column, which is the symbol of Warsaw. It appears I did not get a picture of that column – most likely because it was after my walkabout/tour that I read the tourist guides about these places.
This is Wilanow, a fine baroque palace built by King Jan III Sobieski. We visited this palace on the tour and we did go inside, but it appears I did not take any pictures – whether it was because it was not permitted or because I was too busy listening to the guide, I cannot say. If it was because I was listening it is especially sad, because I also do not remember what the guide might have said. Twenty years will do that to you. I think walking from one end of the palace to another could qualify as a day’s exercise. If one’s bedroom was on the end of the palace opposite the dining room, it would be necessary to be ready for a meal well in advance of serving time! Although I suspect in those days the only heat would have come from fireplaces, all I can think now is how prohibitive the cost of heating such a structure would be!
Some other sites in the city. My visit was in 1992, three years after the first free election in Poland, a freedom attained by the work of the Solidarity Trade Union. Some of you will probably remember hearing about Solidarity in the news from the time it was formed by Lech Walesa in August of 1980 until the attainment of that free election. Walesa was an unemployed electrician when he realized the need for a trade union free of government control. Wages were stagnating, unemployment was high, and the government had raised food prices. Walesa went on to become the freely elected president of Poland. There were still a few Solidarity banners in windows of some unoccupied buildings when I visited.
One of the things I found quite interesting in the city was the habit of parking on what I thought was the sidewalk. Certainly it was an answer to a lack of parking space, but seemed very strange to me. I did not drive in the city, so I do not recall whether traffic was maniacal as in China and Mexico, or more civilized.
In addition, each street corner had a fairly large (perhaps 18″ square as I recall) metal container on legs, filled with sand. Smoking was very predominant in Poland, perhaps even moreso than in the United States in those days, and the government provided these handy ashtrays, probably an attempt to reduce litter on the streets.