The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Monday, June 2, 2014

Warsaw, Poland

Sunday was absolutely beautiful in Warsaw. Because it was Sunday, I just had to stop into church. The church I chose has Chopin's heart buried inside one of its pillars. Because services were going on, I didn't feel all that comfortable wandering around looking for a dead composer's heart. This particular church honors the first (and only) Polish Pope  Do you know who he is? Need a hint? His picture is on the banner hanging high up to the left of the main aisle.

Need another hint. Here he is in an alcove just to the left of the main church entrance.

Yep. He is Karol Josef Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II. Pat yourself on the back if you got it right.

There is a lot to see in Warsaw. I mostly just concentrated on the sights in the older part of the city.

This lady was one of many balloon sellers.  It was a windy day, and she was having a lot of trouble with her merchandise. It kept blowing around and hitting people.

I took a walking tour of the tourist area. It is one of my favorite things to do. There is always a lot to learn. Unfortunately, it is easy to get overwhelmed. For example, I went into the King's palace, but I was never sure who the king was (all these palaces start looking alike after a while, and all the names kind of start rattling around in my head. 

One thing that our tour guide was very interested in us remembering was that the palace, and all of Warsaw, was destroyed by the Germans during WWII. There was absolutely nothing left of the city. I saw the pictures, so I know it is true.

The people of Warsaw had an uprising against the Germans during the war.  It was a bad idea. Thousands of them were killed, and those that were not killed were forced to leave the city. The city was totally destroyed. 

This statue of a young boy in an over-sized helmet is to help remember the Warsaw Uprising.

When the Germans lost the war, and when the Communists took over, some parts of the city were rebuilt..... but not much. The Communists were not interested in such things. But now the Poles have thrown off the yoke of Communism.  They have been free for exactly 25 years. To celebrate, there is going to be a big rally on the main square in two days. They were setting up a stage there and practicing for the rally.  I don't know who this group on stage is, but they were really good.

One of the guests at the celebration is going to be Barack Obama. I thought about hanging around for a couple of days to hear him (he will be speaking on Tuesday). But then I learned that there is going to be 25 other presidents from all over Europe here as well. No way am I going to hang around for that.

Sorry Barack. I know you would want to meet me. I hate to be a disappointment, but I want to move on.

I am pretty far north and pretty far east, and the sun starts shining at 4:30 in the morning. But what woke me up last night (Sunday night) was rain on my tent. It has been cold and misty all day today (Monday). I rode to the far side of of Poland in 55 degree weather. I didn't bring my heated clothing on this trip and I really miss it.

Anyway, I am right on the border of Lithuania tonight in a small Polish town. The Communist influence is still here in this part of Poland..  The streets are deserted. There are few stores. I ate in a restaurant and was the only one there.  They sure do make nice bike paths though.

Maybe the reason everything seems so deserted here is because of the cold, rainy weather. Tomorrow is supposed to be better.

I am staying at this campground tonight, but I paid for a room here instead of setting up my tent. The room is 130 Zoltney including breakfast. That's about $35.00. I am glad to pay that and not have to wake up to a soggy tent.

As I sit in my room at about 10:30, a pounding rain is coming down outside.  Odysseus has to stay out in it.  Try to stay dry and warm, Odysseus.

Getting into Lithuania tomorrow requires threading the needle between Russia and Belarus, both of which require a visa that I have no way of getting.


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