Warsaw is weird.
I used to think it’s ugly but now, when you put things into perspective, ‘weird’ feels far more appropriate to describe the city with a life size artificial palm put in the middle of a roundabout. At the end of the day, New York has its Statue of Liberty, Rio has its Jesus, why couldn’t Warsaw get its palm? It was definitely one of the city essentials, right?
No point arguing with priorities though when you talk about the place where coffee out is still more expensive than beer. Can it get any more bizarre?
Warsaw is weird- like it or not, you have to live with it.
When I was a kid in the late 1990s, I used to come to the capital with my mum once in a while. And I absolutely loved it. In comparison to the town we lived in, where, back then, there was no single chain shop or a proper restaurant, Warsaw with its beautiful department stores, cafes and theatres on every corner of noisy, overcrowded streets, seemed to be heaven.
Therefore, when I was about to go to secondary school and later on, to get my university degree, the choice was obvious. I knew I wanted to be in the centre of everything. And it’s basically what happened- despite getting a solid education, I was enjoying all the privileges of youth and all I remember from that time is hanging out with my friends and having fun. And spending all the money from my parents on coffee in Coffeeheaven, which, back then, wasn’t rebranded to Costa Coffee yet.
Finally, at the age of 20 I got my first full time job and… I started to hate Warsaw. I was sick of those hours wasted commuting, of people on buses ready to kill you to get a seat, of never- ending queues in supermarkets when all you need is a loaf of bread, of dodgy railway stations full of drunks and beggars at any time of the day… I was fed up with all that pressure and mental rush and I felt I would go insane myself if I didn’t quit it. I just didn’t belong there. So I left, to look for a place called home somewhere else.
Now, after so many years, I’m back in the city to discover it again. During my absence Warsaw has changed a lot. So has my perspective. With all the places I’ve been, all the people I’ve met I managed to learn that not everything is just black and white. For once I can see some potential in this awkward reality.
Maybe Warsaw is not the greatest space in the world, where all the dreams come true. However, it has nothing to do with that (grey and miserable) post-communist city it used to be either.
I don’t hate Warsaw anymore. With all its oddness and unpredictability, with its centre packed with skyscrapers and the cheesiest underground entrances you can think of, Polish capital is actually pretty likable. You just need to learn to customise it.