Please understand that it is not my intention to traumatize those of you who have had it up to HERE (imagine a blog reader from the North East of North America indicating wildly to a point above his/her head) with WINTER but this was a magical scene for us. On the morning of January 2nd, DP and I left the snug little apartment we had rented just off the old town square in Warsaw and entered this extraordinary winter wonderland. Although we have encountered snow a couple of times in the last five years (including some beautiful big flakes in Paris in 2005 and a light dusting each morning in Prague last Easter), this was the first real snow we have seen in years. It was the kind of snow that stays for days… that gets stuck to your nose and eyelashes… that is ideal for making snow men and women. This snowfall made me feel like a kid at Christmas… in a year when I was running distinctly low on Christmassy-feelings.
If the square of the old town looks too good to be true, that’s because it dates back just over 60 years to 1956. The citizens of Nazi-occupied Warsaw rose up against the Germans in 1944 and the two-month long battle led to the deaths of 220,000 people. Apparently, Hitler was so angry about the uprising (which came shortly after the Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943) that he ordered the city to be destroyed, block by block. When the Nazis finally moved out, the Soviets moved in and the city was re-built under Soviet occupation. The reconstruction is a work of art.