Walked aimlessly for hours around Poland’s largest city – Warsaw – snapping pictures of non-touristic things
in touristic areas
and near tourist attractions, just because that’s the goofball mood I was in
Strange cracks in the sidewalk. Weird angles. Weird kindred spirits. Whatever grabbed my attention.
At sunset, it was a neat row of lampposts.
The lampposts lined a side street that led to Saski Garden.
The sky behind the lampposts was a golden yellow and deep orange. I noticed as the sun set, the lights seem to glow. From the distance I was unable to tell if it was a strange effect of the dimming sunlight or the lamps were beginning to come alive as darkness beckoned. It was a curiously interesting tradeoff: natural light was making way for artificial light. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful dance, aglow with vivid shades of yellow, orange and amber. I aimed my camera at the tall lampposts and continued to shoot photographs as the sun began what seemed like an eternal descent. Camera-toting tourists around me paused and wondered what I found so interesting in the sky, especially given the abundance of amazing historic monuments and buildings and sculptures within the lushly green city park, including the remains of Saxon Palace, converted into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and guarded at all times by two stone-faced sentinels. Funny how you can quickly draw a curious crowd when you aim your camera in unexpected directions.
Sometime after 1815, Saski Garden, a one-time royal garden that surrounded Saxon Palace, became a municipal park. Saxon Palace was destroyed during World War II and all that remains is the archway today known as the mausoleum, where an eternal flame burns an the two Polish soldiers stand watch. Periodically, and for brief moments, the two soldiers march around the monument, perhaps to break up the torture of having to stand still for such a long time. I caught one of the soldiers perhaps fighting back a sneeze, wiggling his nose – or was he just trying to fend off a pesky fly away from his face without actually swatting at the irritant?
For many years, only appropriately dressed strollers were allowed to enter Saski Garden. Today, there’s no official dress code. In the warmth of summer, men and women wear very little. Nobody cares. The grounds are well-groomed, serene, and still have that regal air, with its stone sculptures positioned throughout the grounds. There is a duck pond with weeping willows and a bronze fountain that spits water. Needless to say, the park draws its share of amorous couples. Sitting on the grass is not allowed, so don’t even think about it, lest you face a sentinel’s bayonet. But none of it held my attention like the setting sun and the lamps. Together they were a spectacular medley, worth the long, aimless walk.