Today is the last day of our tour. In the morning our fellow travellers headed to different cities for different adventures. Rob and Tess travelled to Budapest for a four day stay and departed in the morning. We are heading to Riga in the afternoon so we decided to spend our last day walking around the central part of Warsaw.
Yesterday we had hoped to find a nice bottle champagne to celebrate Rob Vines 60th birthday, I thought this would be an easy task as champagne is one of the five food groups: champagne, red wine, white wine, olives and cheese. It appears that the Poles do not understand this concept. We did find a market area but a complete lack of Champagne, quelle horreur. The market was interesting it was sort of like the Vic markets in Melbourne, only very rustic.
Today we packed up our bags checked out and left the luggage to be picked up late in the day. Out the door, right then right and short walk to revisit the market. The Hale Mirowskie are located in the Mirowki Place and were constructed in 1899. Until their destruction during Warsaw Uprising in 1944 they were the largest markets in Warsaw. They must have been a quite impressive place. Walking around the building you can still see mortar damage and bullet holes in the walls. There were stalls just selling eggs, beautiful vegetables with crocked carrots, huge pumpkins and small potatoes, which wouldn't pass the Coles or Woolworths test for shape, but I bet they're tasty. Small bakers selling breads and cakes. And if you're a pork lover little butcher shops were selling sausages and pork cuts. There were also loads of fresh flowers, mostly asiatic lilies and gladioli. Outside the main market there were desperate old people selling old shoes and secondhand clothes and any little bit that could make money; I think the social safety net may have disappeared with the end of communism.
We had about four hours to kill so we consulted the map, Greg found a science museum not faraway. Well, I thought that might be interesting reading technical information in Polish - so off we went. Unusually we both agreed on our route and actually navigated our route without getting lost or arguing, then a problem. The museum is part of a complex of buildings, and they all looked pretty much closed. We did eventually find an open building with lots of activity around the entrance, however. Whilst our map identified the building as a Polish Culture and Science museum the reception staff denied that any such museum existed. We could have waited in line to go up to the observation platform on the top of the building, but it cost a fortune and I didn't fancy waiting an hour in a line. So we decided to take in the architectural sites and walk back to our hotel. We walked down little allies which had galleries and cafes, pots of red geraniums were everywhere its was very quaint.
As is our custom we had packed a little picnic for the day and so decided to have our lunch in the little park near the synagogue, which is across the road from the hotel. There were many visitors leaving the synagogue as we ate our lunch. Greg said hello to a group of rabbis walking past and one of them said hello back in a New York accent so we started chatting. He asked where we were from and we said Australia; he told he had just come back from Melbourne - small world. The rabbi then invited us to services in the evening and a musical night on Sunday with a Klezmer band, what a great invitation but we heading off so couldn't accept. Another lovely, unexpected invitation that is what travel is all about.
We picked up our bags and headed to the airport just making the flight to Riga where we met by our friend Joan. We are staying at Joan beautiful apartment for our week in Riga. It will be nice to spend a week one place, especially in a place as wonderful as Joan's apartment.