Our European Odyssey

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eminem by Candlelight

Today, we visited Warsaw's Old Town and New Town. New Town dates back to the beginning of the 15th century, and Old Town, as would stand to reason, is even older.

In 1944, the citizens of Warsaw rose up against the German Nazi occupation. They were successful for a short time, controlling a large section of the city, but the German army responded with overwhelming force, retook the city and crushed the freedom fighters. As punishment for their rebelliousness, the Nazis destroyed almost every building in the city, including the historic Old Town and New Town.

Shortly after the war, both Old Town and New Town were rebuilt as close as possible to how they looked before their destruction. Large fragments of the original buildings were reused in the reconstruction. Old Town was so well restored that it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is by far the most beautiful part of Warsaw.

We first visited the Royal Palace, the palace that replaced Wawel Castle as the royal residence when the capital was moved from Krakow to Warsaw. We will say again that royalty sure does have its privileges. It was beautiful. We visited the royal apartments and state rooms. Some of the furnishings were reproductions from the pre-war designs, but others were original pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.

We also visited churches, but they were nowhere near ornate as what we saw in Krakow. Old Town and New Town both have beautiful main squares as well. The first picture shows Old Town's main square.

For lunch we ate at Gospoda Pod Kogutem, a small restaurant in New Town. We had potato pancakes with a "spicy" sauce (shown below). We have learned that nothing is actually spicy here, even the chili pepper sauce.

Andrea had a traditional sour soup. It was served in a bread bowl and consisted of a white broth, sausage and half of a hard-boiled egg. Jake had a soup that consisted of beet broth and small meat-filled dumplings (shown below).

We also enjoyed bread with homemade lard (shown below). It was surprisingly very good, though it doesn't look that appetizing. The lard had a strong bacon flavor and had pieces of bacon and carmelized onions in it.

We should mention that this whole meal cost only 30 zloty, which is about $10. You can eat very cheaply over here. That is a very good thing.

The ambience of the place was nice. There white tablecloths and candles on the table. The walls were adorned with a variety of traditional Polish items and pictures. However, the music was American pop music, including Eminem singing "The Real Slim Shady." It took something away from the elegance of the place, but it was amusing.

Speaking of food, we should mention the meal we had for lunch yesterday. Maciek and his girlfriend wanted to take us to a nearby Asian restaurant that is owned by a half-Chinese half-Polish woman. Jake had a Thai soup made of chicken broth and coconut milk, and Andrea had a Thai green curry dish. It was very good. The meals were supposed to be spicy but weren't. We guess the Polish palate is more sensitive than ours.

We also forgot to mention that after we arrived at Maciek's yesterday (a little before noon), he offered us tea and shots of Polish vodka. Apparently, it is a traditional thing to offer guests a shot of vodka when they first arrive. It is also traditional for the vodka to be cherry-flavored. We declined.


At 3:55 PM, May 30, 2006, Anonymous Josh said...

What a meal price- do you guys plan to splurge on anything else with your awesome American purchasing power?

And wow, all this delicious food with bacon grease and lard smeared on it! To think, we used to always give those toppings to the dogs... What were we thinking?! Sorry Dottie.

~Take care


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