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1 May 2013

time travel :: warsaw day three

day one here :: day two here

considering all the sleeping that had occurred since arriving, it was only fair that eventually it would catch up with me and i'd get none, right? right. despite the sirens that refused to quit through the night, the heat that always seemed to be on, causing one stuffed-up, snoring boyfriend next to me, i still slept pretty well. for about an hour at a time. until i woke up. again. and again, and again.

after our breakfast that day we decided to head to the zoo. for someone with little sleep who despises zoos, i was in pretty good for i'd say, although to confirm you'd probably have to check with boyfriend. we had issues getting on the train. the public transport system in poland was excellent, but the language barrier was not. hardly anyone spoke any english, and despite there being an option for english on the self-service ticket machines, there was nobody available to give us explanations or tell us what kind of ticket we were after.

as it was, we were back and forth between the one young lady who spoke some english and the blasted ticket machine to make sure we bought the right thing - then we didn't even end up validating it at all during the day, and despite the tickets being 'single use only' we used it to get back to the hotel later that day, and to get to the airport the next day too! #idiots

from the train station we still had to walk about 20 minutes through praga, the oldest district in 'new warsaw'. it was really run down and kind of.. ghetto-esque, and there was nothing worth seeing at all on that walk. the buildings were still what i would consider 'new'; as in, they didn't have the sort of architecture that calls my brain to think "oh wow, that's an old building". there was graffiti and billboards and gorcery stores, and it could have been anywhere in the world..

the zoo is set up much like the london zoo, in a giant park. you had to walk a fair ways through the park to get to the entrance, and again, the whole park was snowed over. me, being the ever sensible traveler  wore suede ballet flats that day because my feet were really sore from my heeled boots and the cobblestones. biiiig mistake. suede + snow = not a winning combo.

you'd think that the snowed under park would've led us to some kind of precautionary notion about what to expect inside the zoo (that cost about £3 each to get into), right? well, neither of us considered that. and yes, the warsaw zoo does house a number of animals that are not meant for a snowy climate. i'd like to share with you the information we gathered about where they're kept while their enclosures are snowed under, but i can't. because a) no-one speaks english in poland b) no-one seemed to be working at the zoo c) the only information about the enclosures was in polish, and if not for a picture of the animal, we might never'd known what was supposed to be in there at all.

considering the snow, and lack of animals, there was genuinely a lot of people there. families, i think even a school trip. bizarre, i tell you. we wandered for about 10 minutes without actually seeing any animals. we saw a seal, which kinda broke my heart because it seemed to be trapped in a frozen lake. before jumping the fence to smash the ice, we realised someone had already done that, but that the seal clearly liked being under the water rather than on a frozen rock, so we left him be.

i don't really remember the order that we saw the occasional animals in, but we saw big cats, which - besides the snow leopard, aren't meant for the snow and i literally hated seeing the glee in boyfriend's face as he made simba-like roars at them. they were all sat atop a big rock, bathing in the sun. i say bathing, but it was still only about 2 degrees out. yes, it was sunny. no, it wasn't warm, and it wasn't right. we saw elephants - ditto that of african elephants living in poland. boyfriend reckons they adapt. they may do. they may've grown up in that zoo - i can't say otherwise. either way, it's not right. the elephants were standing outside in a patch of sun. they were actively trying to get out of the shade, and kept lifting their feet up off the snow. they had cold feet. and they were making those whiny elephant noises and using their trunks to push the gate of their indoor-houses so the keepers would let them back in. it was heartbreaking. i'm getting all hot and bothered remember it too.

we went inside and saw the hippos. two giant hippos, in a tank the size of my house, full of tropical fish and murky water. this seemed to be the least cruel enclosure yet, and the hippos seemed to love the attention. they were lapping it up! there were about 20 kids and parents in the one little room, just mesmerized by the rhythmic dance that they seemed to be performing for us. boyfriend loved it - he'd never seen a hippo before.

we managed to spend a good couple of hours in the zoo, despite my protests of inhumanity towards the african animals, and then we headed off. on the walk back to the train station, we took an alternate route and walked down by the river. a lot of it was still frozen, and my god was it cold. it was gorgeous to look out at the city's reflection in the icy water... just beautiful. we got ever so slightly lost on the walk back, and again, the language barrier became an issue when simply trying to ask "where is the train station?" we got there in the end.

after a quick laydown and catch up to the real world via every single social media outlet ever made, we headed out to dinner at amigos - a tex-mex american restaurant that was "renowned" as being poland's first steak restaurant. it was established in the early 00's. the servings were huge, and the service was impeccable  we were the only people in there for the whole hour we were sat there eating.

this was our last full day in warsaw, which was just as well because we had quickly run out of things to do...