Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hanging Out on Old Town Square : Warsaw Diaries: Part II

Thanks to Rick’s illness we spent a lot of time hanging out on Old Town Square people- watching, a great opportunity for sociological observation. There appear to be far fewer international tourists in Warsaw than in Krakow and most of the people in the square were Poles; it seemed like most of Warsaw come out to the Square on warm summer nights.

Some observations: I aren’t seen so many young pregnant women in a long time. Polish women apparently are not in synch with the trend of delaying childbirth, increasingly common throughout the developed world. Also there are signs of increasing gender equality: many young men pushing baby carriages and equally involved in taking care of young children when families are in restaurants/cafes. Of course, who knows what this really means for work/ home life balance among young Polish women and men, but if behavior in public spaces is any indication, conventional gender roles are changing.

On a less happy note, I was surprised at how many older people were walking about the square alone. The activity in the square reminded me of the Italian custom of the passeggiata—when some time in the early evening everyone in the town takes a stroll round the square. (However, in Italy I can’t remember seeing anyone walking alone.) My guess is that these were widows and widowers who used to come to the square with their spouses, and still want to come out on a warm summer night rather than sit home alone watching television. Of course, I have know way of knowing if my fleeting observations are grounded in the reality of Polish life, but it's fun to speculate.

We didn’t see much of Warsaw outside of the historic district, but the little part we saw, we really got to know. We missed the National Museum and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Museum, but at least we did see the fascinating small Madame Curie(AKA Maria Sklodowska) Museum located a few blocks from our hotel.
Madame Curie Museum

The museum has inspired me to read the biography of Madame Curie written by her daughter. Rick has read it and highly recommends it--one of those wonderful by-products of travel, all those new interests to pursue!

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