Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Summer in the city

After a slide-show of bucolic pastoralism at the city's edge, some photos of the heart of Warsaw basking in the glorious summer sunshine. August seems to have forgotten to bring rainstorms (the prevailing winds bringing rain to England in abundance, then leaving Poland dry).

Below: ul. Grzybowska (between Marszałkowska and Al. JPII) More new building popping up. A great city-centre location for a flat, with Cent-Room just two tram stops away, Ogród Saski across the way and beyond it the Old Town. And hundreds of big-name employers within walking distance. My father's earliest childhood was spent on ul. Grzybowska, further west from here, around ul. Żelazna.

One of two big skyscraper projects nearing completion (the other being Warsaw Spire). This below is Q22 on Al. JPII, being built where the Hotel Mercure Frederic Chopin once stood. The 1990s hotel, where I used to stay during my very first business trips to Warsaw in 1995, was pulled down to make way for this magnificent building, which adds tremendously to the vista when looking south towards Rondo ONZ.

Below: view from Zebra Tower looking down over Rondo Jazdy Polskiej and Pole Mokotowskie beyond. Exactly 71 years ago, my father made his way across these very fields - then covered in cabbage - after his AK unit's (Batalion Odwet) unsuccessful assault on the SS barracks at Kolonia Stasica (just to the south of Pole Mokotowskie). Under machine gun fire from the Germans, careful to avoid making a noise trampling cabbages at night, my father crossed the Pole Mokotowskie to make it to the line held by Batalion Golski. And here he fought, based for most of the Uprising at ul. Noakowskiego 18, until the capitulation in early October.

Back to the area around my office, the view from ul. Twarda (below) towards Al. JPII. In the foreground, the lower reaches of the Cosmopolitan building on Twarda 2/4, beyond the Spektrum building nearer the corner of Twarda and Al. JPII. Warsaw is filling up with beautiful neo-modernism, which in time should drown out the tainted neo-classicism of the Palace of Culture.

Below: homeward bound via W-wa Zachodnia station, where work is under way on a new station building (this used to be my candidate for Worst Railway Station In Poland, vying with Kutno Miasto). Much work has already been done at platform level and in the tunnel beneath the platforms in terms of passenger information. But a proper booking hall and retail space is sorely needed - and it's being built right now.

Summer in Warsaw attracts more and more foreign tourists. Today I could hear French, Spanish, American, Israeli and Italian tourists making their way around Our City. Twenty-six years ago, Warsaw merited an entry in P.J. O'Rourke's book Holidays From Hell. What a change there's been over those years, eh readers?

Tomorrow a four-day excursion into the heart of Poland, in search of a particular bottle of the Most Excellent Polish wine.

This time last year:
The architecture of the Birkenhead Tunnel

This time two years ago:
Behold and See - short story, part II

This time three years ago:
Signs of progress along the S2 - Lotnisko to Puławska

This time six years ago:
Warsaw's walls bear witness

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