"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, May 28, 2012

WAR-MIL-AMS: Days 1,2 & 9 - Warsaw, Poland

Thanks to a great airfare deal I found many months ago, we decided to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary in style with a return trip to Europe with three new destinations on the agenda:  Warsaw, Poland; Milan and some other areas of northern Italy; plus Amsterdam and other parts of North and South Holland in The Netherlands.  We nicknamed the trip the WAR-MIL-AMS since those are the abbreviations of the three main cities we would be flying in and out of during our trip.  Here's a day-by-day breakdown of the trip told mostly in pictures...

Wednesday, May 16 and Thursday May 17, 2011:  After an early flight to Chicago and a little layover time in The Windy City which included a great lunch and some tasty brews at Revolution Brewing, plus another libation at the travel-inspired bar, The Map Room, we boarded our LOT (the Polish national airline) jet for an overnight, nine-hour, non-stop flight to Warsaw, Poland.  The great airfare deal on LOT Airlines was the reason we chose Warsaw as our first destination since it is their hub.  While not the first European city we thought of to visit, it turned out to be a very nice place.
The great view of  some of downtown Warsaw
from our Hilton hotel room.

Drinking might be a national sport in Poland.  They take it very seriously.

After dinner at a cool microbrewery in downtown Warsaw called BrowArmia on our first night in Poland, we walked back to our hotel through beautiful Saxon Park which includes the solemn Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
 Friday, May 18, 2012:  During our first full day in Warsaw we had an "off the beaten path" city tour scheduled with a relatively new company called Adventure Warsaw.
While not the most beautiful of pictures, this is a true "snapshot" of the country of Poland over the last one hundred years.  In the center is the pre-WWII lovely architecture which survived the 85% destruction of the city by bombing.  To the left is the stolid and plain style of Communist Poland after WWII.  And to the right is the scuttled remains of the post-Communist era when capitalism ran wild only to see many projects never take form and left abandoned as is by their boom-or-bust developers,  A great stop on the Adventure Warsaw tour that no one else would point out to you.
One of the few remaining buildings of the Jewish ghettos from WWII when Warsaw was held helpless under the invading Nazi boot-heel and millions died as a result of the madness of a few.  As you can see, today's Warsaw is taking great pains to move on from its tragic past, but also never wanting to forget it either.
Our small tour group ambles across
a sweeping square in downtown Warsaw.

A storefront reflection of our tour van.  A relic of the Communist era, it's a restored Nysa 522, and has all the charm and appeal of an iron box on wheels, but it definitely gives you a unique perspective of what this city has come from.

After the tour, we got back on the "beaten path"
and visited Old Town, one of Warsaw's
most well-known historic areas and attractions.

Making Polka cool.  A lone musician enjoys the sunshine in Old Town Warsaw.
Our first two days in Warsaw went fast, but the brief visit made quite an impression.  It's an amazing place that is on the rise to probably becoming one of the top cities in Europe in the next decade.  New construction is everywhere and the freedom of capitalism seems to suit the Polish people well.  Some of the little things we will not forget but that didn't make the pictures included our super-comfortable bed at the Hilton, ordering "sausage" for breakfast and getting hot dogs, the tasty cherry beer at BrowArmia and the great evening stroll through Saxon Park.  We would back for another afternoon and night in Warsaw at the end of our trip as we fly back to Chicago from here non-stop when we head home.

Friday, May 25, 2012:  We flew back to Warsaw today from Amsterdam and spent the night at the Westin Hotel in downtown Warsaw, just a few blocks from the Hilton we stayed at the first two nights.

Warsaw on approach.

Besides the great rate we got at the Westin in downtown Warsaw for our last night in Europe, one's of its best attributes were the beautiful glass elevators that provided great views of the surrounding city.

After a week of "local" food, we decided we would pick the style of food we wanted on our last night in Europe and settled on Asian cuisine.  We found a very nice Japanese restaurant called Akashia which is attached to a huge shopping mall, always a plus for Ashlee.  We sat outside since it was such a nice evening and I ordered a grilled seafood medley box.  Little did I know part of the "medley" included a baby octopus....yes, I ate it.  It was rubbery, but not bad tasting.  I also ate the other smaller one I found later buried under some shrimp.

After dinner we took a sunset stroll through Warsaw and stumbled upon another beautiful park called Ujazdow Park (OK, we were trying to get to the Vistola River and got lost), but it was a good substitute especially when we saw these eight ducklings and their mother.  Ducks as you will see if you check out the other blog entries became a real theme to  our trip to Europe for some reason.  We found our way back to the hotel with no problems and headed home the next morning.  It was a great trip from start to finish and despite a few hiccups along the way, it really went rather well.

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