Warsaw and Prague

Ahhh …. so I’m back from ten days with the teenagers in Warsaw and Prague. This year my trip was based on a trip that my colleague does every year, and in the interest of time, I changed hardly anything. Next time, however, I will be making some major and minor modifications for the interest of my own sanity.

Nonetheless, the trip was wonderful, and I learned a lot about Warsaw even though I’d already visited in 2008. Here are some highlights of the trip.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum

This museum beats all. It opened last year so I didn’t see it in 2008, and it is really fantastic. It’s very modern and very thorough, and the guide gave us a great talk in French. It gives such a good explanation of what life was like under the Nazi occupation in Warsaw. I said to my Polish colleague that in the movie The Pianist, you don’t much of a sense of what life was like in Warsaw outside the ghetto, and she agreed. With this museum you definitely do. You also get a sense of the determination and resolve of the Polish people to resist against incredible odds.

I would happily return, but this time without the kiddos.

Photograph of the city after the uprising (you can watch a 3D movie of this in the musem)

Photograph of the city after the uprising (you can watch a 3D movie of this in the museum)

The museum café, done up like a pre-war Warsaw apartment

The museum café, done up like a pre-war Warsaw apartment

The Museum of the History of the Polish Jews

Also an excellent and recent museum. It starts with the first Jews to arrive in Poland, the functioning of their communities and their position in Polish towns and villages. It continues all the way through to the Holocaust and the Soviet years. The anniversary of the ghetto uprising happened while we were there, and people were handing out little paper daffodils to commemorate it (this article can explain the daffodils).

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Reproduction of a Polish synagogue inside the museum

Praga

Praga is a neighborhood in Warsaw that was under (mostly?) Russian control during the war, and thus was preserved when the rest of Warsaw was destroyed. It’s what the French call a “popular” neighborhood, and many apartment buildings still have one bathroom per floor because they predate the war, unlike the other neighborhoods in Warsaw.

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Buildings in Praga, Warsaw

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Buildings in Praga, Warsaw

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Advertisement (?) in Praga, Warsaw

We also ate many delicious things in Warsaw, including zurek (rye soup), barszcz (beetroot soup), and pierogi (yessss pierogi).

Prague

I didn’t take many pictures in Prague, mostly because I was so completely busy taking care of things for the kiddos. But it is a truly beautiful city, as everyone has always told me, and I’m happy we went, even if it was much  more stressful than our time in Warsaw.

View from the Old town Square

View from the Old town Square

View from the castle

View from the castle

Kafka's short-time house in the Golden Lane (now a bookstore)

Kafka’s short-time house in the Golden Lane (now a bookstore)

The Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish quarter

The Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish quarter

We only had two days and had lots of noisy adolescents so I hope some day to go back and see everything more in-depth.

And now we’re on vacation… thank the Lord!

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5 thoughts on “Warsaw and Prague

  1. L says:

    I remember learning that school trips are never done during holidays in France, as opposed to the US where the idea is to miss as little regular school as possible. I initially thought it had to do with the idea that vacation is reserved for families, but reading this I think it has more to do with the fact that the teachers going on the trips need to keep their vacation!

    • Yes 10 days was long! But we did have some down time since there was an entire weekend when the kids were with their exchange partners’ families and not with us. It was mostly the two days in Prague that stressed me out (youth hostel with students + morning arrival after a night in the bus = never again).

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