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Winter weather in Warsaw is not very outdoor friendly, unless you’re prepared to wrap yourself up like a snowman before venturing outside. I decided that this gloomy winter weekend is a good time for musuems.

I didn’t have much expectation for the POLIN, Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, as my interests are mostly in the fine arts and not history. However, the winner of ” European Museum of te year  2016″ did not disappoint! 

A mondern and minimalist design building

Ticketing and entrance

I was very impressed by the numerous interactive displays in museum, clearly captioned in both Polish and English. I quite enjoyed the display that lets you create your own Jewish coins with your name spelled out in Hebrew. I wish I can somehow take one home ! 

My name coin

It also had stamping stations for you to take home prints taken from  traditional Jewish designs. 

Printing station in POLIN

The museum follows the timeline of Jewish history in Poland since the first arrival in 10th Century, up to the dark times of Holohaust. I found it extremely heavy and sad to walk through the WWII section of the museum. I think the museum did a very good job of bringing visitors back in time to the 1940s through many personal quotes as well as old photos. 

I did not know that Poland had the highest number by far of Holocaust victims. I also learned that thousands were killed in the gas chambers while being told that they were given a chance to shower. 😥 

The museum had on snippets of personal stories which really makes me able to connect and trying to picture myself in their shoes. 

Warsaw post war


In addition to the Holocaust section, the museum also features a replica of a sysnongue alter which is beautiful decorated, as well as a replica of a typical Jewish street and village scene. 

Street scene

Wooden synagogues of Poland


The gift shop also carries a nice selection of books and artsy souvenirs which I didn’t see in the old town. I bought a famous children’s book written by a Polish Jewish writer which I will be reading soon 🙂 

Adorable childrens books in the gift shop


I highly recommend the POLIN musuem as it gave me a more in-depth look at my new city that I’m temporally calling home. 

Chopin in the Park

Every summer from May to September, the Łazienki Park (pronounced something like ‘whyjenki’) offers free piano concerts by the Chopin statue. I was very lucky and caught the last concert of the season before Warsaw gets too cold to sit outside for an hour.

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Chopin statue

This is apparently the biggest Chopin statue until China decided to build another slightly taller Chopin in 2007. But of course, I think this one is the legit one 🙂 It was destroyed in WWII sadly, but the cast for the statue was kept in a warehouse and a reproduction was able to be made.

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Audience gathering

I was amazed at how quiet the audience was for the entire duration of the recital. Even the little ones sat quietly, enjoying the music (Or playing Pokemon Go..). Such good audience etiquette 🙂 Many couples and families brought lawn chairs and picnic. it reminds me of our summer “Symphony by the Lake” with the Vancouver symphony. The performer was a talented musician who was a close runner up to last year’s Chopin competition.

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Other than the Chopin statue, the park is also home to museums,  palaces, red squirrels, and peacocks  🙂

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I can’t wait till the leaves change colour in the park. I’ll pay another visit soon to photograph Warsaw’s autumn colours 🙂

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Online Yoga

One thing I’m starting to miss a lot (beside the boyfriend) is going to the yoga studio. In Vancouver, the yoga studio is literally 3 minutes from home and I had no excuse not to go! Yoga has been very special to me. I won’t say that it changed my life, but it did make me become connected with myself.

I first started yoga a year and a half ago hoping to distract myself from a sad break up. Instead of being distracted , I realized how strong I can be if I just put my mind to it. After a couple weeks of going two to three times a week, I can lift myself up a teeny tiny bit with just my arms 🙂 and my balancing poses became steadier.

I love how the yoga teachers would always connect the physical practice with the spiritual mind. This whole yoga-vegan-hipster Vancouver vibe is totally up my alley haha. 🙂

Here in Warsaw unfortunately, yoga is not a big scene like Vancouver. They have a couple (3 or 4) yoga studios scattered through out the city, but all a 40min  bus rides from me 😦

I tried looking online for videos and yoga teachers. Recently, I’ve start using this fitness and health site called “Grokker“. It had different series of yoga, fitness and cooking videos, all categorized by length and level. So far I have only done two videos from the site and I quite like the yoga teacher I was watching 🙂 her pace is not too fast and she leaves plenty of down time at the end.

I shall update later on how this site is working out for me 🙂

If you’re a yoga lover in Warsaw, please let me know where you do yoga ! Namaste 🙂 ❤

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A taste of Warsaw’s Old Town

Last Saturday, I decided it’s high time I be a real tourist and get to know Warsaw better! It’s pretty awesome that the city offers free walking tours! Apparently, this company has been around for ten years now, and surviving solely on donations and tips they received at the end of the tour.

Here’s their website

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The tour started at the famous King Sigismund’s column, which as our tour guide said, was one of the worst kings in the history of Poland! He apparently started the conflicts between Russia and Poland, was very ill-tempered and a dedicated Catholic who  worshiped the Bishop and brought on corruption. How very strange to have a giant column of a bad king hmmm.. Our guide said the only good thing this king did was moving the capital from Krakow to Warsaw haha..

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We walked to the main square and also the palace which was just close by. Everything in Old Town is all very close to each other. In fact, you can walk all around Old Town in 30min. I was kind of disappointed that most of the stores are and not cute little hipster stores.

In the main square, was the mermaid statue , the guardian of Warsaw. There’s a story having to do with how it came to be. But because I am so short and our tour group was so large, I was all the way at the back and could not hear a thing… >__<   I think the story goes something like this: a brave guy saved the mermaid who has a pretty singing voice, and now she’s the protector of Warsaw. Also, the guy’s name was “War” and the mermaid’s name was “Saw” and their names became “Warsaw” :p

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Warsaw Mermaid

During the tour I decide to not be shy and I started a conversation with this other Asian guy walking beside me. Turns out he’s from Malaysia and I happily told him that one of my very good friends is from Malay 🙂 we chatted for the rest of the tour. Yea, I guess with the right company, it’s more fun to sight see with a buddy.
He doesn’t like to take photos every 3 seconds, unlike me. This reminds me of my guy back home hehe 🙂 ❤ He only takes photos of me, his cat and mango smoothies. :p Makes me miss him.

We walked by Madam Currie’s house. She’s the only person in the world record that received two Nobel prizes and first woman to get a drivings license 🙂 way cool ! I really enjoyed the story of her told by our guide.

We also walked by the remaining wall of the Jewish ghetto and the atmosphere got more solemn as she described the conditions they lived in and how they were shipped to the killing gas chambers 100km from Warsaw. I can still remember clearly in my mind, my Grade 10 social studies class on World War II and Hitler. Our teacher warned us that the video he’s showing us is quite graphic. I can never forgot the scene of how the German soldiers threw thousands of dead bodies into a big hole. The bodies were all extremely skinny and all naked. This is such a heavy part of human history. 😦

I’m also very impressed at the resiliency of the Polish people. Their Old Town Warsaw was destroyed 95percent, and yet the buildings were rebuilt from ground up and looks very authentic. It is now part of the UNESCO heritage site because of their great architectural skills !

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When you visit, be sure to climb up the hundred something stairs up the viewing terrace by St. Anne’s at sunset 🙂 The best view over Warsaw’s magical old town.

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Warsaw Mermaid

Perfect light from the viewing terrace

Opening of the Travelling Cat’s Journal

It’s been exactly three weeks since I’ve landed in Warsaw. I have never stayed in the same European city for this long before. I was very excited when I received my first mail in the mailbox, and inside my very first Polish bank card! It’s all becoming real now!! I am officially not a tourist!

I am not very good at this whole blogging thing, so I am going to list down all the impressive things that I have accomplished in the short span of three weeks:)

 

  • caught a giant spider in the apartment and safely released it back to the wild
  • discovered where to buy tofu and seaweed!
  • shopped at the local bazaar ; communicated by pointing at the grocery adding smiling and nodding.
  • somehow started a fan club for Miss Yu which consists mostly of Chinese kids. 😉 oh what can I do, they love me!
  • Taught a  400 kids choir without losing my voice and patience !
  • Sat on the train for 8 hours for a “day trip” to a not so near-by town
  • Sang for 2 hours in a Polish choir, with Czech texts (but then decided it was too unbearable and then quit)
  • has decided to pick up the harp 🙂 lessons starts next week !
  • Went to a Warsaw social meetup event alone, and was (hopefully) not too awkward !
  • Has made music classes at the school slightly more fun than last year 🙂

 

Hello Warsaw, you’re not too bad at all 🙂

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