The only way is up!
Trip Start Dec 10, 2012
20Trip End Jan 12, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
On a positive note, if you are going to be holed up in a hotel then the Intercontinental is a pretty fine place to be. Christmas Day was particularly special, as we sat down to a magnificent spread which included absolutely everything you could wish to eat and drink. We paid about $100 a family for a sumptuous feast, alcohol included.
After dinner the girls seemed to recover so we went for an evening swim in the hotel pool up on the 43rd floor which overlooks the Palace of Culture, a massive monument given by Stalin to the people of Warsaw
Daniel can rest in the knowledge that his parents seem very much at home. My observation is that they have found their clan, their people. That's all that needs to be said.
Unfortunately the girls have not spent much time with Babcia and Dziadek owing to the fact that they don't seem to know how to use their mobile phone and so our attempts to contact them and make arrangements went unanswered. Both Daniel and his parents have gone into 'jelly fish mode' where no-one's brain seems to be working.
Wigilia (Christmas Eve) was an interesting experience. Not what I expected. It was held in a neon lit room over a dentists surgery with about 30 people. Saskia fell asleep at about 9pm so I took her into a nearby room and lay with her on a couch. I also managed to doze off and was woken at about 11pm, with Daniel telling me it was time to go home. We got into a car and took a 45 minute drive home (I think we were in the Warsaw equivalent of Frankston). Just for the record, there was no alcohol involved. There was a bible reading, and some Polish Christmas carol singing, but apparently no vodka until the day after
Daniel has not really found his sense of place, of roots. His old family apartment is in a part of the city that is largely unrecognisable. He managed to get out and about and explore whilst I stayed inside with the girls and he tells me that he feels Warsaw seems a mass of contradictions. I'll get him to put his thoughts down by himself.
My take on this city is that it just carries so much emotional baggage. I don't know if its the 1950's communist architecture or the black slushy ice covering the cobblestones, the weather or the omnipresent monuments to the heroes and the fallen but it is quite a depressing city, seemingly chained to its past with a very heavy heart. Maybe we see this more than tourists with no connection to Poland, because B and D have made a point of ensuring we understand the suffering of the Polish people. I guess that's one of the reasons B&D seem happy here - they're surrounded by like minded people who understand their pain far better than we ever could.
Still, I'm not convinced its cheaper than Melbourne. Admittedly, my shopping experience has been limited to the tourist part of Warsaw but it is no cheaper than Melbourne. The only thing that seems cheaper is beer and Vodka! I bought a bottle of vodka to take to Wigilia (not sure where it ended up) and a 750ml bottle of Wybrowa cost me $10! Normally about $35 in Australia. But the big stores such as Zara, Hugo Boss, H&M etc are charging exactly what you would pay in Australia. I'm sure groceries etc are cheaper, and accommodation too. But in terms of clothing Babcia will have to use the Internet if she's going to keep up the fashion stakes.
Our hotel has been good value though and we'll stay here again when we return on the 7th of January for our last three days (after the French/Swiss leg of the trip which starts tonight). A good sized spaghetti with meatballs delivered to your room with all the bells and whistles costs about $6 Australian. Our buffet breakfasts have been magnificent, with everything on offer. The girls have been enjoying cereal, eggs, fruit and juice, probably eating 3 times more than they would at home. It seems we eat enough (at about 10am each morning), to last until early dinner, so we're hardly spending any money.
We have a 4.25pm flight to Geneva where we collect our car and drive to Chateau de Divonne.. Saskia is very excited about seeing the castle and has asked if the Queen will be there. We're there for tonight and tomorrow night before we drive around Lake Geneva to Thollon Les Memises, for what I hope will be the highlight of the trip. I'm praying that Daniel (who is also feeling poorly today) and the girls' spirits will be lifted by this beautiful part of the world. The only way is up!