Our European Odyssey

This blog covered our month-long trip to Eastern Europe -- specifically the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Anti-Smoking Gun

We started our day with a visit to the Russian Market, which is a large open-air market located in a former soccer stadium. You can find clothes, antiques and more (including bootlegged movies and other shady goods). Despite the shadiness, Andrea bought a sweater to fight the incessant cold. Her one long-sleeved shirt just isn't enough.

We then headed to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which was recommended to us by Maciek. The museum is dedicated to the citizens of Warsaw who rose up against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. They were successful enough to control parts of the city for more than two months but were eventually crushed by the Nazis.
As punishment for the uprising, the Nazis methodically leveled the already-war-torn city. This is why there are very few pre-World War II buildings in Warsaw and why it looks like a more modern, U.S.-style city (with skyscrapers and all).

Although something like 150,000 citizens of Warsaw were killed, until our trip, we had never heard of this event. Our history books focus mostly on the Western front, where American forces were actively involved. It's easy to forget about the horrors that occurred on the war's Eastern front.

The museum was very interactive and well-done. We hadn't planned to stop there, but after going, we would recommend it to any of you who find yourselves in Warsaw.

Later, while making our way down the Royal Road, Warsaw's most regal street, we happened upon an anti-smoking parade. Some people (such as the guy below) were carrying big cigarette guns and wearing skull masks. Whenever someone who was smoking passed by, these protesters fired their "guns" at the offender. It was odd but nice to see an anti-smoking movement here.

Our next stop was the day's second museum, which houses the John Paul II Collection. It's not pictures of the late pope but instead a collection of paintings donated by one family in honor of him. The museum features works by Dali, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Van Gogh.

Oddly enough, however, we had the museum to ourselves. They actually turned the lights on and off as we entered and exited rooms. We aren't sure why there was no one else there, but we felt like we were getting a private showing.

Tonight we plan to eat a Polish dinner with Maciek and his girlfriend before boarding a night train to Prague. Jake is hoping for more lard at the meal. He's developed quite a fondness for the greasy stuff. Andrea just wishes they sold granola bars in the grocery stores here.


At 10:44 AM, May 31, 2006, Anonymous Lou said...

Where can I get one of the cigarette guns? This might be the teaching tool I could use to emphasize "no smoking" to my students.

Dad remembers visiting a friend when he was young; they ate cob rolled in bacon grease. Maybe we could try the lard this summer, especially if there is a butter shortage here (I hope not!)

I do enjoy your information on the history of that area. I really am history-deficit about World War II.

Treat yourselves to treasures while you are there. These keepsakes will help to remember your special adventures.

Love, Mom

At 4:34 PM, May 31, 2006, Anonymous Mom said...

Oddly enough I was familiar with the destruction of Warsaw. Many years ago I read a book by Leon Uris entitled Mila 18 which chronicled the horrors and the bravery and determination of the Poles.

I am glad Andrea bought a sweater. I have been worried about her being cold. Lou is right, I hope you are buying souvenirs and momentos of your trip.

Hope the meal was good.


At 4:26 PM, June 01, 2006, Anonymous Lou again said...

We are a having a cool (about 64 degrees) and rainy day. The rain was needed, but it makes me feel like curling up with a blanket and book.

To edit my previous comment, I meant to say that Dad had eaten corn on the cob with bacon grease. I'm sure it did not compare to the lard on bread that you have enjoyed.

I'm looking forward to the details of Prague.

Love, Mom

At 7:20 PM, June 01, 2006, Anonymous Kari said...

Hey -- I want one of those cigarette guns too. It might come in handy when the hospital goes smoke free in September. Somehow I don't think the smokers would think it was funny though. I'm going to try to print your picture to share with a select few on our committee that would get a get out of it.

Love, Kari


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