Hala Gwardii, Warsaw Local Market
When in Warsaw, after doing the rounds of some extremely interesting rides and places, we wanted to do a local market. Nearest to our hotel was Hala Mirowska. After being awestruck by the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial, we proceeded to Hala Mirowska as we passed a tree lined avenue of Chlodna and a church.
Hala Mirowska is one of the oldest markets and has the feel of the real Poland, as it is the haunt of the local inhabitants. It has a lot of history. Constructed in 1899-1901,it has two indoor markets connected by an open air market in between. During the Nazi occupation, it was used for civil executions. One wall still bears bullet holes. But it was during the hard fought battles of Warsaw Uprising that , except for the walls, the whole place was destryed. The Communists, who then came, thought of destroying it, changed their mind and converted it to a bus depot and a Sports hall. It was only in the 1950/ 60's, that it started functioning like the present day market. in 1988 apparently, Margaret Thatcher, on her visit, went shopping here for vegetables and dried mushrooms.
It was one of those markets where you could find everything and very cheap, from vegetables to free advice. When we reached the market, we saw the flower market and some lady street vendors, who seemed as old as the market itself, selling flowers.
We located the food court, Hala Gwardii. It was a huge hall with these metal framework ceiling and had such a nice warehouse feel to it. It was thronging with people, families on a day out, ladies meeting each other, group of men talking business (?), another group of youngsters playing Table tennis inside. And all of them looked so attractive and handsome and "polished". It was lined by eating stalls. We ordered some Polish food. The dumpling order came with a time beeper which acted as a token.
Sitting, eating the local fare, listening to John Lenon's, "Imagine" my souls thirst felt quenched. This was something that I could have only dremt, not some fantasy dream but a dream of experiencing the reality of other cultures, through all my senses....sight, sound, smell and taste....
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