I’ve been dying to return to Poland ever since I left a year and a half ago. It had become a huge part of who I was and I missed it terribly while I was gone. After wandering the streets of Warsaw for three days now I’ve come to realize that we can never expect returning to a place to be the same as the memory we hold of it.
I came to Warsaw after a week of touring around Prague and Vienna with some of my best friends. Being a tourist was so much fun with them and I loved it. But as I tried to do the same things in the town that I love, it felt hollow. I wandered Old Town and toured the castle and my heart broke a little because it didn’t have the same fullness that I remembered about Poland. Perhaps it was because I was alone, and traveling is so much richer with good company, but ultimately it was something else.
After my first day I decided to get off the beaten path and spend time in some of the places tourists don’t. I read my book in Centrum, I ate at my favorite pizza place in a residential neighborhood, I visited some old friends in their apartments. And all of the sudden I felt whole again. The Poland I love isn’t one that fits on a postcard, it’s the the groceries I buy here and the only mostly understood conversations I have. I still love it, and I am happy.