Sunday, June 7, 2009

Warsaw, Poland - Day 59: 20 years of freedom

Before we arrived in Poland, T had warned me that Warsaw was perhaps the most polluted and dirty city he had seen when he visited as a boy in the early 90's after the fall of communism.

A CNN article once wrote - ...'there was a time in Poland when the economy was so maddeningly out of touch with the needs of its people that anyone lucky enough to own a car would remove their windshield wipers at night and take them inside. In their command economy -- oblivious to the laws of supply and demand -- some official forgot to order wipers and consequently, they weren't for sale anywhere. Inspired by a hungry black market, thieves would work late into the night snapping them up.'

20 years later, Warsaw has little trace of the city my husband and the article said it once was. It has clean modern buildings, a beautiful preserved old town and very few reminders of the decades of Soviet neglect.

The timing of our visit couldn't have been better - Warsaw is full of infectious energy - street art, concerts and exhibits celebrating 20 years of the transition from communism to capitalism and the 'Autumn of Nations' . For 3 days, we walked through an open air exhibit near the old town - an inspiring reminder of the sequence of events that led to the breakaway from Soviet domination.

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