Remember how last time I was in Warsaw I poked fun at Stalin's monstrosity in the middle of town? Well, it turns out that even Stalin had his uses. As I was walking by the structure today, it suddenly started pouring. Along with some other pedestrians, I dashed into one of the colonnades at the entrance to the building, and was thus saved. Apparently it wasn't a coincidence that Stalin was referred to at the Sun of the Nations.
One side of his structure is on Swietrzyskfyty st. although it's spelled differently in the original. Lots of consonants, most of them swzr. On the corner facing Stalin's place is a 40-story glass and steel office building owned by an Austrian bank (Creditanstalt). As you walk north (I think it's north) you see various imposing structures, one of the larger and more imposing one being the Ministry of Finance. Across fro the ministry and perpendicular to it is Winnie the Pooh st. In case you don't believe me, there is a stone plaque with a picture of Winnie holding hands with Piglet.
Someone must have a sense of humor. I asked my local colleague if that had been the name of the quite central street even under the Communists, but he was too young to remember. It's been that way for quite a while, was all he'd say.
Around the corner there's a plaza with a statue of Copernicus, who was Polish in case you've forgotten. And further down the street, the Warsaw University. I walked around campus, and just about all the buildings had obviously recently been renovated. Only the the school of medicine still looked vaguely as it would have under the Communists - grimy, old window panes, creaky window frames, that sort of thing.
Maybe the Poles don't appreciate their doctors.
Quite a number of the buildings had life-size (i.e. very large) black and white photos of the same buildings in March 1968, when the Warsaw students were at the vanguard of the rioting students of the world. The difference, of course, between them and their fellow rioters in West Germany, France, and the USA, was that the ones here in Warsaw were facing a real enemy, the kind that put rioting students away, in unpleasant places.
The same buildings that today are spanking clean looked like you'd expect, in the photos. Grimy, derelict, grim.