Friday, July 16, 2010

Warsaw, Day 1 (1/2)

I'm in Warsaw! Actually got here yesterday afternoon, but have been too busy to post anything. I checked into my hostel around 4 p.m. Turns out there was a mix-up with my reservation and they thought I hadn't confirmed, but luckily they had rooms open, so I'll still be at the same place for all three days. (Different rooms, though.)
After getting settled in my room, I headed out for a walk around the surrounding area...having no idea what was really around this particular area, but just to check things out. I ended up visiting the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki, or PKiN, in Polish). It's the tallest building in Poland, with 52 floors, and it was built in 1955 as a gift from the (then) Soviet Union to Poland. It apparently is, or at least was, somewhat controversial due to both the associations with the Soviet Union and its aesthetic appearance - according to my guidebook, it has the nickname "The Wedding Cake" because of its multi-layered look. I don't necessarily know if that's the first association I'd make - my first impression was of some sort of clock tower - but judge for yourself.
After paying the 15zł (around $4.72) admission, I went up to the 30th floor, where there's an observation deck from which you can see pretty much all of Warsaw. I got some great views of the city (and, perhaps most prominently, the advertising around the city center), which I'll post as soon as my camera starts working correctly. I think I may have to venture into one of the electronics stores here and buy a new SD card, since mine seems to be corrupted. There was also an exhibition on art, science, and the environment going on - some of the things featured were digitally altered photos of landmarks having been overtaken by nature (think that History Channel show "Life After People") and photos of families around the world with the different types of food they ate in a week. Interestingly enough, I saw some similarly-themed exhibits around San Diego a few months ago, at the Calit2 gallery on campus. Most of the rest of the building, other than the observation deck and cafe (on the same floor) and the exhibit on the first floor (some of which was also displayed around the observation deck area), seems to be either theaters or offices.
There seemed to be a fair amount of people still there for it being almost closing time (I got there at 7 p.m.), both tourists and people from here. There's also a little park around the Palace, which I walked through a bit before heading back to my hostel.
Anyway, off to go explore the city some more and hopefully get this camera working...

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