Winter in Warsaw

I’m not a big fan of subzero temperatures, so I hibernated my first winter in Warsaw away. You could count on one hand the days when I went outside with my camera. In fact, I am an absolute thermophile. On top of that, my work at the TV is really time-consuming, so whenever I had some free time and no place to be, I chose to chill under the covers. It was a time to hole up in other worlds: dream about future travels, read books, play board and video games. Not a completely dead period. I’d rather call it dormant.

Warsaw still remains a mystery to me. I know the area surrounding my flat in Mokotów. A few cafes strewn about the city. A handful of outdoor locations such as parks and forests. About a dozen routes leading to places I frequent, mainly film studios. That’s all. When we moved in six months ago, in September, we gladly spent the first few weeks getting to know the city’s nooks and crannies. Now, I’m waiting for spring to return and bring my eagerness for long walks back to life.

Lately, I’ve been following Varsovian urban legends – partially due to my undying curiosity, and partially because of how amusing they are. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but many of them focus on the subway. The subway is the means of transport that I most commonly use, which makes me even more eager to explore the city’s continuously expanding chronicle. As I learned from the blog of Marcin Napiórkowski, a semiotician of culture, there are at least three reasons to fear the M2 metro line… For it is her that most reeks of peril.

First of all, the M2 runs under the Vistula. It’s not enough that we have to travel underground, we’re also underneath the largest river in the country. If we go even deeper – nomen omen – rivers constitute a cultural boundary. They may serve as a border separating the known from the unknown. To cross a river is to cross the limits. The Devil appears next to border crossings – rivers, intersections, crossroads.

Secondly, the subway is haunted by the spirits of unburied World War II soldiers. Soldiers’ bodies are believed to have been hauled out of the construction site en masse. It did nothing to help, though – the spirits still frequent the area. Where do they appear most often? Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to determine that.

Thirdly, underground equals evil. Hell, Sheol, Hades, however you may call it. New York has crocodile sewers, we have haunted metro tunnels.

Ever since I moved to Warsaw, I’ve been getting regular visits from several friends. Everyone has something to do in the capital. On a December day an old high school friend came by. We strolled through the city center, still quite unknown to me, and encountered Lapidarium – a truly unique antique shop.

The rest of the winter I will remember mainly through the TV glass, having worked on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Bake Off. It was fun, but didn’t let me invest enough time in my own side projects.

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