Ten countries, millions of Europeans living in cities like Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, Warsaw and Kiel, amongst many others… The Baltic Sea Region is a huge area in northern Europe which history in the recent years is not a quiet one, when we speak of its Eastern side: part – or satellites – of the former Soviet Union, later independent republics and currently members of the European Union, one of them even in the Eurozone: Estonia. Tell me this is not a huge transformation within just 20 years!
Thanks to the ONE BSR Project, co-financed by the EFRR under the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013, six contributors at newsWave.eu had the chance to (re)discover three capital cities in the Baltic Sea Region –starting in Warsaw, the programme took the group to Helsinki and Tallinn as well. Poland, Finland and Estonia at a glance, a unique opportunity for my colleagues Asta, Esin, Klaudia, Mia and Tobias, and for myself, to unveil some of the secrets of this European region. On September 23rd, the “Experience BSR-trip” was about to begin, the excitement among the six travellers was just endless!
An excellent programme, prepared by the City of Warsaw, was waiting for the six of us in the Polish capital city. Maria Schicht, Deputy Director of the Social Communication Centre City of Warsaw, and her colleague Beata Kubiszyn-Puka, accompanied by our guide in the city, Jurek, gave us a warm welcome at the unique “Inn under the red hog”. With thorough explanations, we started enjoying the first Polish delicacies… and having the certainty that the trip would more than fulfil our expectations 🙂
A guide can make a huge difference between simply knowing a city or, much more desirable, enjoying it to the most… and exactly this is what Jurek managed to do. Besides, Warsaw was unexpectedly sunny those days in late September, so things could not have started better!
Now, if I had to choose a couple highlights of the Polish capital city, I would definitely vote for the “Palace of Culture and Science” (PKiN, abbreviation in Polish), and also for one of Poland’s distinguished citizens: Frédéric Chopin. Probably an arguable choice, that of the tallest building in town, because some Varsovians still see it as a symbol of the former soviet times. For me, though, it became an architectural symbol of the city from the very first sight I had of it: its powerful presence, next to some modern glass skyscrapers, shapes the skyline of the city in a very particular way. Yes, the PKiN is now on my personal list of interesting buildings!
A visit to Chopin’s Museum, devoted to his work and life, was luckily also one of the activities on the programme. I enjoyed it at the maximum! There, I had the opportunity to test one of the individual cubicles where visitors can listen to the composer’s music in a very innovative way –I sat there, surrounded by strangers who seemed to disappear right after I started to listen to the first notes, closed my eyes and pictured myself in the Warsaw of the 19th century. Fantastyczna, an absolutely fantastic experience!
Did I just say that I would choose two highlights of the city? Then let me just add another one: the gardens on the roof of the Warsaw University Library! Paths, bridges and pergolas connect its different segments, from where you get a wide view over the city. Inside the building, the library is presided by four giant columns, and atop each of them, four of the most important Polish philosophers. Really impressive!
There is much more to be said about Warsaw, where we spent almost 48 hours, so a second part of this chronicle is coming soon. Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, you are very welcome to check the photos I made there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itineri/sets/72157635895398813/
Ferran Porta / 7.10.2013