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Friday, August 5, 2011

Running in Warsaw

Kasia from Guest Service Desk at Westin recommended a run along Vistula river, but I decided to run around the city center to become familiar with the part of town that has changed so much since I visited Warsaw seven years ago. The city was decorated with national white and red flags to commemorate 67th anniversary of Warsaw Uprising, a tragic event when countless lives were lost and most of the city west of Vistula river was destroyed and burned.

Running on cobblestones of labyrinth-like streets in the most historic part of town I was reflecting on the truly remarkable effort of the city's citizens who sacrificed so much to rebuild the Old Town from the ground up based on the drawings recovered after the war from several museums in the United States, Russia, and the rest of Europe. Especially valuable was the work by Canaletto, an Italian painter who captured the city in great detail on many of his old oil paintings. After almost seven decades the city still seems to be one big construction zone with new hotels, office towers and residential buildings mushrooming in the downtown district. A new subway line is under construction making driving downtown even more challenging. One positive change I noticed almost immediately after leaving my hotel, was much better air quality than seven years ago. Economic reforms in Poland allowed its drivers to quickly replace old and polluting Fiats, Ladas, Trabants and Skodas with the latest models from VW, Citroen, Honda or Toyota. New highways around Warsaw moved the heavy inter-city commercial traffic of trucks away from the city center. However, some things never seem to change. There were still very few recreational runners on the streets early in the morning. Maybe it was my improved high-cadence running form, or my bright green Kinvaras, but some people were turning heads as I was passing by. "I should have listened to Kasia and run along the river", I thought as I was plowing bravely through crowded city's downtown to get back to my hotel.
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