Warsaw skyline from my old apartment

Warsaw skyline from my old apartment.

Following up on my Top 10 list about Taiwan I’ve decided to do a list of things that I liked about Poland and that I miss.  It seems I’ve been dogging it too much lately and (ahem) some people’s feathers are getting ruffled.

So, since my time in Poland was one of the most exciting and most fun years of my life filled with tons of great people, great friends, sister bonding moments, memories, café scenes, and existential thought-provoking conversations, and clubbing (Oh, my God, the clubbing!) without further ado here are the things I miss about Poland:

1.  The Public Transportation System

I know you think I’m joking but I’m not. As much as I rave about the metro system in Taipei, the public transportation system in Warszawa or (Wawa as it’s affectionately known) is actually better. It’s true that Warszawa only has one sad little metro line snaking through the city all by its lonely little self, but within a couple of years we all hope it will be getting a little friend. Besides the annoying lack of metros though, the bus and tram systems are incredible.  Generally on time, they are dirt cheap and comprehensive. Most locations can be reached by several buses which run every ten to fifteen minutes.  I also like the whole night bus situation. No matter the time of day or night you can always get home without having to resort to pricey taxis.  Taxis are pretty cheap in Taipei, but not as cheap as taking a bus. And who can forget that with every ride on the night bus you’re always going home with some crazy story?

2.The Bread

Yum! Polish bread is  awesome! I especially miss the light Rye and variety of grain filled breads. Slap some cheese on that and you’re set for the day. Taipei bakeries are all about sweets, not bread, and its annoyingly difficult to find any decent bread. At best, some places have French baguettes but come on! There is some truly awesome bread out there. But you won’t find it in Taiwan.

3.  Cheese and Meat

Since I’m on the subject of food I’ll go ahead and say I miss the vast amounts of  different kinds of spreadable cheeses that are so readily available.  And the ham? Are you kidding me? I didn’t know there was 50 different ways to make ham until I moved to Poland.  Don’t even get me started on Polish sausage. The best sausage in the world, it deserves a blog post all to itself.

4. The Energy

People say they love the energy, rhythm and movement of all the people in Taipei, but I don’t feel it like I did in Poland. There was a rhythm and wildness to the air in Warsaw that’s lacking here.  Maybe its the vibrant mix of  old architecture, history, and young people with wild new ideas for their country.  Maybe it was just the student who was always banging away with singular skill on an old beaten up chair at Metro Centrum with a crappy pair of wooden posts.  There are places in Taipei where I can feel the energy, but I’m overwhelmed by all the noise and scooters here.  The traffic drowns out the people, and the oppressive smog and soon-to-be oppressive heat make it a misery to be outside at times.

Pretend this is really the energy.

5. Polish Hospitality

Nothing but nothing can make you feel as at home and welcome as a Polish host.  From the moment you enter the door to the second you leave you’re treated like welcomed royalty.  The food is rolled out, pastries, sandwiches, four course meals, and, of course, vodka. You won’t leave for hours  and when you do leave, it won’t be hungry. Or sober.

6. The Architecture

All right, yeah. We all know most of Warszawa is full of dreary and ugly soviet style buildings built upon the devastating ruins of World War II. But peeking out among the crappy soviet buildings are scores of beautiful parks, and hidden treasures consisting of buildings, monuments, gardens and moments of sheer beauty.  Once outside of Warszawa it just gets better and better. Gdańsk, Wrocław and Kraków are scenes of immense beauty and history.  In fact, that takes me to….


7. The History

Pretty much every part of the planet has history dating back to way back when, but in Poland it felt like I was walking through a museum every day.  It didn’t matter how many museums I didn’t visit because every other corner had some plaque or monument, special fountain or memorable scene.  It’s an incredible feeling walking through streets knowing that the same streets I was walking on,  were where so many had suffered, fought and died not so long ago. Well beyond the horrors of  WWII, the ground I walked on had been a silent witness to well over a thousand years of history. The first settlements that Warszawa was built on go back to the 9th century. Those are a lot of ghosts to be walking through!

8. The Seasons

I miss it getting dark at thee p.m. like I miss another hole in my head, but that being said, I do miss seasons. There’s no spring or fall here and the winter is a rainy drizzly depressing  joke.  When I discovered skiing winter took on a new wonder for me that it had lacked since childhood.  I like the occasional excitement of blizzards and the first snow fall of the season.  I won’t say I regret missing the insane cold snap Europe had this winter but I do miss skiing.  I miss watching the leaves changing in the fall, and the smell of the changing of the seasons. I miss the sun going down at ten at night in the summer and dawn beginning to break at three in the morning.

9.  My Friends

I may have only been in Poland a year but without a doubt I made some life long friends. We clicked almost instantly.  While I do have good friends here, that almost instant recognition and bonding that I experienced in Poland is absent. I miss the random festivals, the spontaneous random walks in the park that would end up turning into all day adventures. Food parties, picnics, shopping trips, laughter and adventure. Yeah. I miss that.

10. My Family

I miss having a sister in the same city. I haven’t had that since childhood and what a difference it made to my life in Poland!  The bonding moments, the good times, (I’ll be honest-I don’t miss the bad times)…I still laugh to myself over the incident of a certain smelly man while house hunting.  I miss being able to hop on a train to the Czech Republic and see my other sister and her family.  This part of my family has been largely absent my entire adult life.  Last year was the first time I spent a substantial amount of my time, as an adult, with either of them, and those experiences are priceless.