A Lovely Sunday in Warsaw

Today was a lovely day filled with beautiful weather and new experiences for our last Sunday here in Warsaw.  For lunch today we had intended to go to a favorite pierogarnia of ours in the Old Town but finding it too busy, we ended up at Stacja Rynek just a block away.  What a beautiful place!  A walk down into a cellar, the place very much surprised me with its elegance and design.  Our meal was fantastic: for Lisa a lovely salad and for myself a very nice zurek soup and beautiful salad that reminded me very much of San Francisco cuisine.

After the meal we did a little shopping and made our way down to the Cafe Bristol at the Hotel Bristol for one last time.  Not that we were regulars as it’s a bit expensive, but it was a place we enjoyed taking guests to and rather much enjoyed when we could.  Today we had ourselves some coffee and shared a wonderful ice cream sundae (vanilla and strawberry ice cream and peach sorbet, surrounded by black currants and strawberries in a sauce, topped with whip cream, some meringue and a cookie… delicious!).  While sitting there a pianist started playing and played one of my favorite tunes, C’est si bon.  Just delightful!

After the Cafe we made our way to BUW (Biblioteka Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, the library of the University of Warsaw).  Lisa had some photocopying to do so I spent my time at the Coffee Heaven there on my laptop to catch up on a bit of work.  Afterwards we went out the back and made our way to the garden on the roof.  Now, I had been down to BUW before but never knew that there was such an amazing garden on top of the building.  What a surprise it was to wander around above the library, looking off into the distance across the river and around town, walking all around the roof and looking into the library.  It was quite nice to have gotten to see all of that and to have such a nice experience in before we leave.

Only a couple of days now here, we’ll pack tomorrow to prepare to leave on Tuesday evening.  It’s an amazing chapter of our lives that is coming to a close and I find myself looking back at the time here very fondly.  Already I am realizing all of the simple everyday things which I will miss, but I am also beginning to look very forward to returning to California.   I’m sure I will be thinking back to life here in Warsaw for some time to come…

A San Francisco Light

Today I was going to the Biblioteka Naradowa to meet Lisa who was doing a bit of rearch there.  Leaving the Pole Mokotowskie metro stop, I walked through the lovely park that neighbors the library.   The park has a sense of being kept up but left alone to be itself as well, and walking through there it reminded me of walking through the forest when I was in my youth…

The wind is breezy and cool, the sky as deep a very rich and deep blue with clouds moving along like a herd.  The light today is brilliant in a way that I will always associate as a San Francisco light as it was there that I really came to know such a quality of light. (The colors are vibrant and every small detail is visible…) It’s a day to walk slowly, to quiet the mind and observe the phenomenal experiences, and to simply breathe in the world…

Seasonal Thoughts

Less than two weeks now here in Warsaw, I noticed looking out the window at the common garden shared by the apartments here how lovely all the trees and plants are, now well on their way to full bloom.  I was thinking back to the time when we arrived in the Summer, moving through Fall, Winter, and now Spring, remembering the way the courtyard looked as the seasons changed.  When John was here I was thinking that when Lisa and I leave Warsaw, counting the times I stayed in Krakow, I’ll have lived over full year of my life here in Poland…

Although I want to go around see everything in Warsaw “just one more time” in the little time we have left here, and although I am already thinking of all the things I will miss when we leave here, my mind is now moving on its way from here and to life back in the States.  It’s a strange sense not so much of anticipation but curiosity, of simply letting time go by and seeing what happens more than anything.  So many lessons from living life here, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when we get back to California.  Until then, I guess I’ll just take it a day at time and see how it all goes…

John in Poland

One of my closest friends John Leonard visited here in Warsaw last week, the only one from the States that has had the opportunity to come visit while we’ve been here. It was great to see him here as we really haven’t been able to spend any significant time together in years. As in the old days we got to play a number of games of chess and had ample time to chat about all manor of topics from politics to life in general. It was also quite nice for me to show someone I know a bit of my life here in Poland, to show all the places which I enjoy as well as to share stories and experiences that have happened here.

We did have a nice opportunity to take a train down to Krakow to visit Wawel, the Main Market Square, a walk around the Planty, as well as just wander all around the town hitting most of the cafes and restaurants that I have enjoyed in the past.  We also went to see Auschwitz-Birkenau: it was my second time there and it was just as horrifying an experience as the first time. The first time I went it was dark and gray and raining, this time the weather bright and even beautiful.  I think the experience this time was in some ways even more insane as I could imagine such a weather must have happened when the camps were in operation, highlighting in my mind even more the senselessness of it all.  That such a beautiful world could exist yet such horrors could occur…

Coming back to Warsaw after Krakow, I was somewhat surprised to realize that I found myself much more interested in life in Warsaw now than Krakow, as my past experiences in Krakow were so nice.  I noticed Warsaw has a much more urban feel to it in terms of lifestyle and the people seem somewhat kinder here (which may not seem to be the case at first glance as people generally wear a somewhat colder expression as a baseline here, but beyond it is generally a genuinely warm person I’ve found).

It was nice to spend a good amount of time with John which only highlighted how little time we’ve gotten to spend visiting each other.  Just how life goes I guess when people move to different parts of the country and the world.  It’d be nice to get to see more of my friends more often, so perhaps some plans will have to be made to make trips to visit each other more regularly.

Second Trip to The Philippines

I returned on Saturday from my second trip to the Philippines which lasted about two weeks.  It was nice to be back, working again with the company and seeing all the people who worked there, as well just being in the city with all of its energy.  It was interesting to leave as springtime was starting here in Warsaw and to return once again to a blooming spring, though jumping 60 degrees F from here to there and back has been a bit taxing on the body.  Beyond the work, the guys there were great in taking care of me and showing me around and introducing me to people. Some of the highlights of the trip were:

  • High Rollers – We went to the casinos a couple of times while I was there, mostly for business purposes.  It was really interesting to see first-hand some high rollers brining in serious cash to play with.  Perhaps what I found most curious was that the guys who played with a lot of money often dressed in really expensive clothes and sort of advertised their wealth a bit, while the guys who REALLY had a lot of money were very down to earth and generally relaxed and having a good time.
  • Philippine Fashion Week – We had an opportunity to go to a model party as well as the grand finale show (sitting front row in front of the catwalk!).  Very interesting to meet some models and fashion people as well as to see the fashion world really upfront like that.  I have to say that world seemed very foreign to me, though I found it interesting to see what models do and what a fashion show is like in person.
  • Training at a Boxing Gym – The guys at the company regularly train at a boxing gym and invited me to go along and give it a try.  Strangely enough, although I’m rather a quiet person in general, I have long enjoyed watching boxing (even though I recognize it is an incredibly brutal sport).  It was neat then to actually go to a gym and work with a trainer and get to learn a bit about boxing and to train.  I had expected it to be quite tough and sure enough it was some very difficult work!  I’ve been a little out of shape and so had to stop before the other guys, but it was really neat to have the experience of training at a boxing gym.
  • Embassy -We had a chance to go clubbing at Embassy at Fort Bonifiacio a couple of times.  The second time we went we were all in the VIP section and it was a great night of hip hop music, especially a treat with DJ Shortkut from the Invisible Scratch Pickles there spinning that night. Good music, great sound system, and lots of fun!
  • Bulocan -As it was holy week and a vacation time for everyone, we took a trip to a resort in Bulocan with a some guys from the company as well as friends of theirs.  It was a nice time with a good group of people with drinks, cards, karaoke and more.  The second day there we went out to the markets to get some fish for grilling and it was quite interesting to see what a market is like in The Philippines, as well just in general seeing a what a city and life is like outside of Manila.

It was nice to get to see the people I met last time once again and really nice for all the non-work experiences there as well.  The Philippines is such a very curious and interesting place.  As much as I enjoyed the trip, I’m also very glad to be back to the quieter life. Some great memories, I’m sure I’ll be thinking about the experiences for quite some time.