Day 16: Warsaw’s Green Side

This was our last full day in Poland.  We’d been having such a great trip that we were sad to be going home, and I like to think we had the energy and stamina to have kept going.  But because it was the last full day, we had also started the process of emotionally divorcing ourselves from sightseeing, dragging our luggage (and ourselves) around, trying to think and speak in Polish, and sleeping in hotels.  In other words, we were also looking forward to going home.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

But it wasn’t over yet, and today we had things to accomplish, the first of which being to find some coffee and breakfast.  We started by going down to the breakfast room at the Sofitel, but the plan to eat at their buffet dissipated once we discovered it would be 96zl ($30.50) per person.  That was a lot of money for coffee and a sweet bun.  We did the next best thing, which was to return to So! Coffee, where our gal was working and set us up again with a couple of delicious berry muffins and coffees.  This was better suited to us, anyway.

Us and The Gipper

Us and The Gipper

It was yet another gorgeously sunny day, which worked out well because our plan consisted of peeping in on Lazienki Park, a giant – giant – city park in southern central Warsaw.  The walk took us down a peacefully quiet wide street with wide, tree-lined sidewalks, manicured landscaping, and benches.  It appeared to be an embassy row, of sorts, including the serious-looking US Embassy that had a random statue of Ronald Reagan across the street from it.

The pre-park park

The pre-park park

Now, I have a little confession here:  along with seeing the park, we also had another mission and that was to see the big monument to, oh-you-guessed-it, Fryderyk Chopin.  What is it about you, Freddy, that keeps sucking us back in?  As we passed a park we thought was Lazienki, we dipped in a little bit on our Chopin search.  This park turned out to be just north of Lazienki, kind of a warm-up park before you get to Lazienki, with water features, manicured pathways, bronze statues, birds, trees, and thoughtful landscaping.  We regretfully didn’t spend much time here, as we thought we’d see it again on our return to the hotel, but ended up going a different way and, sadly, missed the rest of it.

Chopin.  Again.

Chopin. Again.

Back out of the park-let we continued south, finally coming upon Lazienki Park.  Chopin wasn’t too hard to find, given it’s a huge statue, and there was even a nod to Hungarian Franz Liszt nearby in the form of a much, much smaller bust.  We took a self portrait just to show him some love, too.  Oh, and by the way, the Chopin statue that sits there now is a replica of the original one, which the Nazis melted down into scrap metal.

After showing the business end, this one finally turned around

After showing the business end, this one finally turned around

After leaving Chopin and Liszt behind we commenced our park strolling.  Have I mentioned this park is unique and tremendous and oversized and picturesque and ideal and full of animals?  That spells utopia to me.  Soon we came by another park feature, the Palace on the Water.  If you envisioned a palace built right over the water, you’d be correct.  But as impressive as that was, in my mind it played second fiddle to yet another fantastic park feature:  peacocks.  There were a lot of them roaming around, some of them in full bloom while others were trying to be more discreet.

Palace on the Water

Palace on the Water

We sat on a bench for a few minutes shy of eternity, as it was so relaxing just being in this park that it put the brakes on even a couple of gadabouts such as ourselves.  I wished we had a tent, I would have pitched it right there and spent the last night in the park.  Well, no I would not have but it was a nice thought.  Eventually we mobilized and headed off in the direction of the Royal Way for a stop I’d especially been looking forward to, E. Wedel Pijalnia Czekolady.  It’s a chocolate store, a very fancy chocolate store, and they are known for their hot chocolate.  And this ain’t powder you add to hot milk, this is drinking chocolate.  The flavor was outstanding and it was difficult to not lick the last of it out of the cup.  Well, not when there were other people around, anyway.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

It had started to sprinkle whilst we were at E. Wedel and when we left the rain was starting to come down a little harder.  We decided to go back to the room but we had one more stop to make:  the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Our room at Sofitel overlooked the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where every hour, on the hour, there was a changing of the guard.  We had watched over it with interest for a couple days now, and had intended to see it more closely before we left.  As this was our last chance to see it during daylight hours, no matter how tuckered or wet we were we had to swing by (and the rain didn’t last long, anyway).

Back to the room we went for a brief respite, which actually turned into a couple hours of lounging around.  We didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything, and boy, did it feel nice.  Before we knew it, it was dinnertime and for our last meal in Poland we had decided on a Hungarian restaurant called Borpince.  The meal was just okay but the room was beautiful, as it was downstairs in a brick-lined wine cellar.

Our very last beer on the trip

Our very last beer on the trip

To walk off some of dinner, we headed back up in the direction of New Town and did the once around there before doubling back to Castle Square for one last after dinner beer.  A lot of people were out and about, the weather had cleared, and the beer was icy cold.   What a way to unwind.  We could get used to this.

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