The beautiful capital of Poland is the place that made me love traveling.
In June 2014 I was lucky enough to visit Poland for the first time with my dad and his girlfriend, MJ. My dad’s Polish friend, Marcin, had invited us to explore Warsaw and spend some time at his home in the suburbs, which was incredibly generous. This trip was a few years ago and sadly I wasn’t keeping a journal at this time so I’ve probably forgotten many details. But what I do remember is falling in love with Warsaw and with traveling in general.
Most of the traveling I’d done up to this point had been with family, revisiting countries in Europe that we had spent time in growing up. I’ve always had a fondness for Italy and England, since my family lived there for a couple years and often returned to see old friends. But visiting Poland was my first time going somewhere completely new, where I knew nothing about the country except a very brief history of WWII.
After a few days there, roaming around with my family and experiencing the hospitality of Marcin, I felt infatuated with learning about a new culture. I loved the architecture of the modern city center and the colorful antiquity of the Old Town. I loved the beautifully landscaped greenery of the public parks and the heartiness of the food. I didn’t love the vodka, because I don’t think I’ll ever really like straight hard alcohol to be honest, but I did love that the restaurant drink menus had entire pages dedicated solely to the endless types of vodka they carried. I loved the kindness and the humor of Marcin’s friends and family, who welcomed us into their community and shared great conversations with us. I loved the restaurant set in an old communist hideaway building, where all the decorations and dish titles revolved around the theme of communism.
After this trip to Poland, I felt this urge to continue traveling, learning about new cultures and experiencing them first hand. This was the first time traveling had really shocked me and broadened my mind to invite space for new histories, languages, and customs. Though I don’t have a detailed account of my time in Warsaw, I do have this lasting impression that I need to spend my life seeing as much of this fascinating world as possible. So I have Poland to thank for opening my mind to the importance of travel, and that is how Warsaw changed my life forever.