My friend from Australia arrives on Monday, a teary arrival because I am waiting at the wrong gate. She searches for me for half an hour. She forgives me. I find it harder to forgive myself.
Over the next three days she gives me new perspectives on my home-for-a-year as her curiosity noses into corners I haven’t even noticed.
Let’s start with coffee. There’ll be trouble if I don’t! I haven’t bought a coffee in Warsaw in six months, but my Australian daughter has, and recommends a small shop a block or two away. There we find coffee and a postcard that says it all. Dare I suggest that the thing centre left is a dummy?
We head down to the Old Town and begin our exploration by climbing the stairs to the viewing terrace for orientation.
We pop into a couple of contrasting churches for a brief look. There is a very large barrel in the corner at St Annie’s: in the cathedral I finally photograph a stained glass window satisfactorily and am reminded of the crypt awaiting a visit.
Near the mermaid in the town square a man with a caged parrot is playing a barrel organ.
We head down to the river. She is an environment activist, so I photograph her with the Warsaw coolglobe.
We lunch outside the house Marie Curie lived in as a child.
The next day, after breakfast with my Polish daughter, we spend the morning tracking down kosher grape juice for the Friday night Shabbat meal in the next phase of her Polish adventure. I’ve been within cooee of the synagogue before. We see the New Jewish Life in Poland Centre. I know the area. I have a map. But we still have to ask our way. I explore the surroundings and sit in the shade while my friend shops.
We join the walking tour of Jewish Warsaw (another post), and visit the Polin museum (also, eventually, another post); drop the twins off at pre-school; join them in the park. And suddenly it’s the last day of her visit, and the deluge of English I’ve been indulging in. She has had painful leg spasms and a sleepless night – cobblestones? the bed? – so we don’t ramble through Łazienki. Instead, we have coffee, and walk down a street a block away that I have never explored and into Morskie Oko.
Then it’s time to make our way to the station for the train to Śródborów. In front of The Palace of Culture and Science, I lose real time contact with an old and dear friend until March 2017.