It was a day for walking wherever my feet wanted to go. I was tired of staring at my GPS all day long. Today I would wander the streets of Warsaw, then use my phone to direct me back to the hotel when I tired.
I visited churches to light candles, visited art galleries and sipped lemonades from cafes.
I found a junk shop where everything was hiding under a thick layer of dust. As a joke they sold regular 2 zloty coins for 10 zloty.
What a great business plan. Sell money for five times its worth.
Warsaw is a bustling city. People dressed stylishly. Wait staff smiled. And random people greeted me in Polish.
“Dzien Dobry.” I called back to them.
Wandering without a goal made me feel free.
In the early afternoon I passed by an outdoor restaurant. A man called over to me, “Hey. You look like fun.”
I saw two fit men in their thirties who wore button down shirts and big smiles. They held hands and raised their champagne glasses to toast me.
I put both hands over my heart and said, “I am fun. Glad it shows.”
The brunette man said in a low voice, “If you sit with us for five minutes, I’ll tell you secrets.”
I know. Who could resist five minutes of secrets?
I sat down and told him to spill.
They married last week.
I jumped up and gave each man a hug of congratulations.
They beamed at the attention and then said that nobody in their family knows.
We sat quietly for a moment.
I said that the two men could “Throw confetti when you tell them. If they’re excited, they’ll welcome the confetti. If they’re mad, they will distract themselves picking up the confetti.”
The blonde man said, “That’s a great idea. Really great.”
“No, no. Don’t do that. I just made it up. It’s a stupid idea. I will buy the next round.”
We laughed together and I ordered a round for them and a glass of lemonade for me.
The brunette man told me a story of finding some letters his mother’s lover sent to her, before she met his father. His mother and father were still married and lived in his childhood home.
I asked what was in the letters.
The blond man held up one finger in disagreement, took a sip of his champagne and said, “It’s not what was in the letters but who wrote them.”
I turned my head to the side, then dipped my head in an exaggerated show of listening.
The brunette said, “A woman wrote them.”
My mouth flew open. “Your mother….”
The men raised their glasses for us to cheer again.
This conversation was lightening my mood.
I was so annoyed at my hotel last night that I almost left first thing this morning. I met with the night manager who was horrified that I was so upset in a hotel where nobody is ever upset.
I went to take a shower last night. I turned the light on in the bathroom, started the water and was about to step into the shower when I noticed the windows in the bathroom.
Some designer, likely a man, decided to engrave enormous letter "R"s onto the panes of glass.
I know, tacky but harmless.
Well, except that the insides of these letters are transparent. Completely see through.
I pulled a towel off the towel rack and wrapped it around my body.
Around the letters the glass was opaque. But the letters themselves were see through.
I know what you’re thinking. There must be a shade. Lower the shade.
That’s exactly what I thought. I lowered the shade. It is made from material that is an open weave: the shade is see-through, too.
Who would design a window shade that is see through? Fire that man immediately.
I put my hand behind the shade and could see it clearly.
There’s no way that these bathroom windows are see through. I mean... Nobody would…
I remembered reading an online review by someone who didn’t like the windows.
Maybe that person could have given a little bit more detail or suggested that guests bring along a spare set of curtains for general privacy concerns.
I took a long towel and wove it through the strings that held the shade up. The towel flopped down, refusing to be a part of “Operation Hide Holly.”
I turned off the light in my bathroom and peered out the windows. I could see across the courtyard. People were in their bathrooms. I could see body parts of showering guests.
This may be a design flaw and could explain why two days before traveling here, I was able to book a 5 star hotel room for under 100 dollars in the best area of Warsaw that was both quiet and close to Old Town.
No. I wasn’t suspicious at the time.
If you’d like to experience this window excitement, reserve room #122 at the Mamaison Hotel ul. Koscielna 12, Warsaw.
I turned off the bathroom lights, and closed the door into the bedroom and showered in the dark.
Later I dressed and stormed the front desk.
No changes came from that storm, I didn’t want to be seen as an aggressive American asshole. I asked if they had alternative shades for the bathroom window.
I said that everyone must complain about the windows.
The man standing before me wanted to fix the problem. He so wanted me to be happy.
I told him I wanted to speak to the manager in the morning.
When I finally got into bed and turned out the light, I noticed that there was a red light shining from inside the mirror.
I got out of bed and turned on the light. I could see the small red light shining like a beacon of… I don’t know, a recording device?
(I photographed it and put the light in the center of my camera lens so it would be easier for you to see.)
Was there a camera inside the mirror recording me, or was this red light some kind of operational mirror trickery?
I pitied anyone recording my hours of writing, my hours of processing photographs or the empty room when I was out walking around.
I slept fine. If you find any videos of me sleeping in Warsaw, likely it came from this hotel room.
Tonight I hung out with Wojtec and met his son Max. We met at a dessert place close to my hotel that is known for its chocolate.
Max used our visit as an opportunity to practice his English before he heads to the USA for his senior year of high school. He doesn’t know his placement yet, but I’m hoping he’ll be close to New York so he can come to visit.
Finally we were ready to order. Wojtec discussed gluten-free options with the waitress in Polish. So helpful.
I know. I don’t like chocolate, but there were interesting options. And drinking hot chocolate, even in the summer, is a Polish tradition.
Wojtec said this company is a well-respected Polish chocolate company.
I chose it as a meeting place because I was walking by when he texted and asked where we should meet. Maybe that’s not the best way to choose a meeting place, but, hey… it worked this time.
Pijalina Czekolady E. Wedel Freta 13/15 · 22 635 13 31
Max got an enormous bitter hot chocolate, Wojtec ordered what looked like a hot chocolate sundae with whipped cream and fruit syrup. I went for a steaming cup of hot white chocolate.
As we sipped our desserts, I told them about my noisy room in Sopot, the red light on my mirror and my transparent windows.
Wojtec said that I was terrible at choosing hotel rooms.
That’s one skill I’m happy to work on.
Thanks for reading.
New here? Click below to get an email notification every time Holly writes. Enjoy these refugee stories? Leave a comment below. Or share with friends.
Want to read more of Holly's writing?
Cheese for Breakfast: My Turkish Summer
"A wild ride."
"Essential travel reading"
Available in regular print, LARGE print and ebooks:
Thank you for supporting small publishers.
Thanks for reading. Could you do me a favor? If you liked this post, please share it on your social media accounts and friends? And in your post, you can tag:
@mshollywinter on Instagram
@mshollywinter on Facebook
@mshollywinter on Twitter
@mshollywinter on TikTok
Till you read again...
Thanks so much, Holly Winter Huppert
(C) 2022 by hollywinter.com and Holly Winter Huppert