By Danny Walsh
As I sat beneath a gazebo in Warsaw Old Town, my attention was taken by the water pump in the square.
This beautifully recreated little square is home to a few restaurants, as well as the odd street vendor, one of whom sold me a magnet. This whole place feels like history, including the fountain that both birds and homeless people wash in.
The water pump is what holds my gaze, though.
Warsaw Old Town meticulously rebuilt after the war
You see, I can almost feel the energy of the people who maybe once gathered around to fetch water for their families or businesses. The faint breeze carries the excited laughter of children as they splash. I don’t know if this is true. The sad truth is that I know nothing, and this is all likely to be false. I could Google it, but I still haven’t bothered, and I’ve been back in this square for nine days.
Warsaw is a cheap city when it comes to food and drink, but especially when it comes to vodka. A celebration was our reason for being there, a brilliant excuse for the boys to go out on the town. We laughed, we danced, we spent way too much zloty on way too many drinks.
Fast forward to 89.6⁰F (32⁰C) in Old Town, and I’m staring at the water pump because I feel like I’m about to melt. I’m drinking a huge beer — which only cost me about £2 (US$2.77) in English money — and somebody is trying to force-feed me pierogi. I taste it, and it’s nice, but my stomach feels as though it is protesting. I can’t be trusted to consume good things, and my stomach knows it. This is the English experience abroad. Hangovers and shame.
The worst part is that I consider myself to be cultured in comparison to my fellow country-folk. I like to read, I enjoy writing poetry, and I don’t get off my face every weekend.
Chuck me in the middle of a getaway for a wedding, mix in some cheap alcohol, shake it up with the toxic but loveable atmosphere of lad culture, and all of a sudden, I’m the cock of the walk, singing: Three Lions in front of the Palace of Science and Culture.
Nonetheless, there I was in the middle of Warsaw Old Town, telling people in my party how the whole thing had been rebuilt accurately after the Second World War. They’re nodding away, marvelling at how much I know. I’m hoping I can slip away unnoticed to be sick some time soon.
The magnet I bought for our broken fridge back in London has become a small talking point, too. This is an opportunity to drop in the fact that I’ve travelled abroad for comedy gigs, and always buy magnets to bring home. This chat soon dries up, and wedding talk begins again.
I’m back staring at the water pump, and a kid is climbing on it. This seems to solidify my daydream earlier, and suddenly it is now classed as history. Kids played here, and then the Nazis destroyed it, but it’s okay because now it is rebuilt and the homeless can have a quick wash in the fountain.
God, I love culture, and I’ll definitely come back to Warsaw (without the lads).