Winter’s embrace had stolen all the warm air and life out of Warsaw whilst I was away in Istanbul turning Warsaw into a city lined with skeleton trees and slick frozen sidewalks. The sky was hanging heavy with an atmosphere dripping grey painting the world a depressing hue. The sun became a distant memory shy and quite prude only peeking out from behind the curtained clouds on occasion. Walking outside required preparations, gone were the days of bare skinned fingers and angel kissed skin. The cold could leave you breathless and shock you to life leaving you with no other option but to face it head down and wrapped up rushing in a crowd of dark hues towards a heated sanctuary.
This was my introduction to winter, a season of darkness, mulled wine and Christmas markets. Having come from California I had never experienced a proper Christmas season. At best, we would have houses that sparkled in the night, Disneyland put on a good show but even it would supply snow by filling the air with soap suds and even on the coldest of days, it never snowed. Slowly, I watched as lights started hanging from pedestrian streets in town, witnessing pumpkins in windowsills transform over night into poinsettias or wreaths. Every morning I would peer out my window and be greeted with a sky painted indigo, synthetically lit shadows and frost laced streets but never snow. Only rain, frost and grey. It was below freezing and Mother Nature was playing with my frosted heart strings. Snow would make winter magical my smile stretch across the world, but no one could promise snow.
Just as Poland was about to slide into one of her coldest weeks one of my friends landed from California in search of Christmas markets and a little bit of mischief. Bianca spent the first two days of her visit eating Polish food, nearly freezing whilst exploring Old Town Warsaw and getting lost in time at the Uprising Museum with her newfound friend from Australia. I however, was molding the minds of tomorrow waiting for the clock to strike 16.00 because we once again had a train to catch. Racing from school, tossing B into an uber and throwing some bottles of beer into the mix we found our way into the train stealing a spot in the beer cart just the right size for Jess, B and me across from a character made from The train dropped us in Wroclaw as another beer emptied in our hands slithering to the Airbnb we decided that we would grab a proper dinner and then calling Friday a day seeing as the Christmas market was sleeping and we ought to join it.
The next morning we peeled our eyes open as the light slowly creeped across the room illuminating our world. My feet hit the cold wooden floor as my body stretched itself out towards the window. My sleep ridden eyes grew wide with amazement as excitement burst through my veins. It took me a second or so to shake the doubt and recognise that the pearls falling from the sky were not laced upon a necklace, nor were they raindrops. Outside the pastel facades were sugar coated, cobbled streets laced together by crystals. Mother Nature dropped a snowy blanket on top of Wroclaw leaving my heart overflowing with joy. The three of us slapped on our clothes and rushed out to dance in the falling snow as my eyes filled with tears and my lips formed a smile. I bounced around in the fairytale square, for the first time ever feeling like it was Christmas time. I caught a snowflake on my tongue, studied the delicate details within each flake watching their rapid disappearance. For a moment I felt as as if I were living in a freshly shaken snow globe and I was in love.
The remainder of Saturday was bitter cold and the snow, while it was beautiful was (as it tends to be) ephemeral. Our tummies were full of crepes and cups began to become filled with mulled wine in order to numb the cold that shook our bones. Cautious steps and mesmerised eyes lasted throughout the day buying gifts, smoked cheese and chocolates until the day got away from us. Emptying our gifts back at the flat we were so excited about our treasures and newly found winter wear, some of which was bought too soon. It wasn’t long past 3:30 when the sky was engulfed by the velvet black veil of night time and the lights of the market illuminated the cities square leaving the gnomes hidden within the shadows of the night. A full Polish meal, a shotbar and a drink at the local American tavern capped off Saturday for the weary as Bianca stayed to brace the later hours of the night.
Sunday morning was one where we were rudely awakened at 7AM by a carbon monoxide alarm screeching at us. After tearing a window open in order to hush the screeches it was decided that it might be best for all involved to bundle up and head out to town. Tired eyed we dragged our listless sacks of bones through the city until a place for breakfast would invite us in. I kept thinking back to when I boarded the plane to Warsaw when I was shouldering many well intentioned empty promises. Nearly everyone I knew had filled my head with well wishes and hallowed guarantees that I would see them on the other side of the pond. I was aware that the heartbreaking truth would mean it would be months before I received my first visit from the Golden State (understandably so). I however was so lucky to have a friend be able to visit so soon and she will forever have left her mark with me in Warsaw. The real question is, did Warsaw’s cold bite leave permanent damage or will she back for some more fair-weathered fun in a more lively and buzzing city??