by Craig Turp
Warsaw In Your Pocket Editor (2010-11, issues 59-63)
Warsaw was by no means as bleak as I had expected when I first landed, in 2000. In fact, on first glance it struck me as being rather neat and tidy, with a surprisingly large number of skyscrapers. (Who knew then it would soon get even more, becoming Eastern Europe’s Manhattan?) I had flown in from Bucharest, however, and back then just about anywhere looked neat and tidy by comparison. That of course was before I had got to the train station. What a dump. Dread and fear filled just about anyone unfortunate enough to pass through its vast bowels. And it wasn’t even that old, simply neglected.
Who knew then it would soon
get even more [nity and tidy], becoming
Eastern Europe’s Manhattan?
On closer inspection, much of Warsaw was just that: neglected. That’s the major difference between then and now: today’s Warsaw is loved, even by those who expect to hate it. Few cities in Europe have the potential to surprise as much as the Polish capital: it’s very rare indeed you’ll find anyone with a bad word to say about the place. Poland may be run by religious lunatics these days shutting themselves off from the enlightened world at great pace in one of the most ludicrous acts of national self-harm in recent memory, but Warsaw, as it always has, will remain Warsaw: Poland’s last redoubt, where the fightback begins. They know how to resist tyranny in these parts. That was clear back in 2000 and is even clearer today.
✱✱ Disclaimer: The opinions of former editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current IYP editors. Or maybe they do.