Monday, August 19th 2002

I didn't really do much in Warsaw. I'd walked miles and miles every day in Moscow, but I couldn't muster up the same enthusiasm here. The city was like a small village in comparison to Moscow, and once I'd walked around the old town, I felt like I'd seen it all. So I just relaxed, sitting in the Saski gardens reading, and having the odd ice cream on Nowy Swiat when I felt like walking there.

One thing that was great about Poland was that I was totally literate again. The 20 or so characters I'd managed to learn in China hadn't generally been of much use, and most of the time the written language left me completely baffled. In Russia, I could read cyrillic script, albeit slowly. But here I was back in the world of latin script. Not that this meant I understood a word of Polish, but at least I understood the letters. All the c's, z's and y's were like old friends.

My major sightseeing expedition was to the Palace of Culture and Science. This building, in the classic Stalinist style, is the tallest in Poland and dominates the skyline. I liked it because it was pretty much identical to Moscow's set of seven skyscrapers which were built after the war at Stalin's behest. And I also liked it because it had a viewing platform. I went up for an evening view of the city.

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