Welcome Back to Warsaw

Sauntering into the lobby of the serviced apartment building in Warsaw, I didn't pause as I pushed at the glass entry door. I knew how heavy it was.
            “Welcome,” nodded a man in his thirties at the front desk, his closely shaven white-blonde hair contrasting my nearly jet black mop. “This your first time in Warsaw?”
“No.  It’s my fifth. I’ve stayed in this building four times.”
“Welcome back then,”  he smiled, handing me my room card. “Need help with your bags?”
Dziękuję – Thank you, no, I’m fine.”
To be honest, I couldn't wait to offload my suitcase after ten hours of squashing in a tiny airline seat. I planned to soak under the shower, then rush out for a walk.

A few hours later, I wandered along wide streets lined with grand buildings that had been reconstructed after German warplanes strafed and destroyed them––and most of the city––during the war.  This time I ignored clear plaques fastened to facades that had fascinated me on prior trips, describing what had been there before the destruction; courthouses, banks, government buildings.  The city seemed familiar.  Despite construction cranes dotting the skyline, restaurants and landmarks were where I remembered them two years ago.  
Around the corner, close to my ‘home’ for the week, is a street lined with cafes and bakeries. Waltzing into one I had frequented with my mother (when traveling to Poland to meet families of those who'd saved her during the war), I pointed to a slice of dense chocolate cheesecake then sat at a table. Sliding a forkfull into my mouth, I closed my eyes, smiling.  Welcome back, Warsaw.

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