Monday, 25 August 2014

Kazimierz Dolny and Warsaw

Wojcech saw that I was in Lublin on Facebook and  recommended Kazimierz Dolny. Touristy and thoroughly predigested but I enjoyed it, restaurants, amazing architecture and sylvan walks, despite myself. 

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Kazimierz Dolny, merchant's house, market square

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Detail from the facade of the house

Kazimierz Dolny is a village with quite extraordinary architecture. it is no longer a real village but a tourist place but it is not too full of trippers and the man in the tourist information centre told me that 80% are Polish. The churches and the houses are remarkable, especially the one in the photograph above.

Then a taxi to the nearest station twenty minutes away and the two hour journey through attractive countryside to Warsaw. 

I had forgotten - twenty years passed since I was last here - that it is beautiful. Warsaw rebuilt after the war - not a brick was left standing by the Germans - is not simply evidence of the rebirth of the human spirit because it was rebuilt under the Communist regime, baroque churches and all. The same Stalin who had partitioned Poland with Germany in 1939. 

One thinks all the time of what the Germans did here in the war. It feels like a sort of morgue.

However, Warsaw is something for Poles to take pride in as well as sorrow. The old town itself is pretty and wisely they did not rebuild the mid and late 19th century buildings but rebuilt it as it had been earlier, but it is a place for tourists, a kind of Covent Garden. Much more interesting is the long Royal Route which winds through a mile or more to the old town, full of copies of wonderful airy classical buildings. Someone said a copy is an act of cowardice following an act of courage but I wonder if this should apply to Warsaw and decide that clearly it doesn't. The centre of Warsaw is a very attractive and does make Bucharest look the shabby compromised place that of course it is.

Like Sweden, Poland does not quite feel Germanic, at least not in these parts which were annexed by Russia - and not in Cracow which was part of Austria either. Poland is herself.

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Warsaw: Palace of Culture, a present from the USSR

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