Poland is my home country and I miss it dearly. Sometimes, I even think I want to move back there and try living there for a change. If I had to choose a city to live in Poland, Warszawa (Warsaw) would be my first choice. There are many reason why I love that city so much.
First of all, Warszawa is very metropolitan and this gypsy girl loves city life. My favorite thing to do in Warszawa is just walking around the Old Town admiring the architecture. Warszawa was heavily destroyed during World War II and the Old Town is what this city used to look like. I feel sad and angry when I think of the atrocities the war did to the people and the cities of Europe. So much history, art and architecture was destroyed during that time. However, on the positive side I am happy to see that Warsaw is having it's second revival. There are interesting new constructions and developments all over the city and tourism is booming. If you visit Warszawa you will most likely start with a tour of the Old town. Sure, it is very touristy but it is still a nice place to walk around and get something to eat or drink.
I always have a great time when I visit Warszawa, but this time it was particularly awesome. I am very grateful to our host Ania E. who invited us to spend a weekend with her. Through her I learned about a side of Warszawa that I had never known.
Saturday, we went to support the LGBT community and we participated in the Pride Parade. It was a great event! Unfortunately, the Polish government is getting more conservative. The rights of the LGBT community are constantly abused. I don't want to get into much politics here but come on Poland, get with the program like the rest of Western Europe.
After the parade we went to an after party in the Finnish Houses in Jazdow district. After World War II Stalin gifted the wooden houses to the Polish people as a part of post-war reparation program. These houses were given mostly to architects who were recruited to rebuild Warszawa after WW II. Over the years there has been many plans to tear down these cute little cabins due to it's prime central location. What is great about the Finnish houses is that you would never expect to see them in the city center. The quiet Jazdow district with its wooden cabins, magical gardens and alleys looks more like the Polish country side than a city. For a long time this was Warszawa's best kept secret.
After the parade our host and some of our new friends took us to a punk party in a squat. What is a squat (or polish skłot) ? Here is what I have learned. A squat is a relatively new concept happening in Warszaw. Squats are underground "social hang out places/party places". When I say underground I mean that not everybody is welcome there. If you want to party in a squat you either have to be a super cool punk ( which I am not) or you need to have super cool friends who know where the squats are and they will take you there. The squat that we went to was located in an old abandoned walk in clinic ( Przychodnia in Polish) on Skorupki street. We paid the cover charge. I think it was 10zl ( about $2.). What?!! The place inside reminded me of some slightly dodgy but cool place from the Trainspotting movie. The interior is dark with some neon light and the walls are covered in cool graffiti. The top level has a weird single bathroom and it was the only room in the squat with doors. The rest of the doors have been replaced with curtains. There are multiple rooms where people were hanging out: a pool table room, "bar stations" and a huge space where people leave their bikes. There is even a changing room because some punks live in the squat. I am not surprised that you have to know somebody to get in there. There were two bars where you could get a drink and there was a dance party in the basement. Because squats are illegal assemblies they are raided by the police all the time in order to shut them down. I think the squats are cool and you are guaranteed to have a great time if you are into that style!