How do I get to the old town?, I ask one of the young hotel receptionists. You go to the central railway station and from there straight onwards until you will see a palm tree, turn left and there you are. A palm tree in Warsaw? That surely must be the only one, I say. Very probably, the young man grins.
After some hours of strolling around and looking at impressive architecture (since I'm not much into history, I do not bother inquiring what is in front of my eyes), I'm heading back to the central railway station where I'm asking a young woman sitting on a bench what her favourite park is. She looks at me in wonder. Well, I now say, upon my arrival, a fellow passenger who said to have been many times to Warsaw remarked that this was a city of parks. I wouldn't know, the young woman smiles, for I'm not from here, I'm from Gdansk, a city known for its parks.
Back at the hotel, I decide to ask the palm tree receptionist for parks. He points out two in walking distance. The next day, I discover that the two are rather large and quite obviously popular with dogs, young mothers with children, and the elderly (older than me).
On my way back, I took sidestreets and discovered an inviting neighbourhood with cobblestones and trees, all sorts of restaurants, cafes, and small shops – quite a contrast to the very modern parts of town.
Nowadays, I pay attention to how I walk. While not so long ago, I almost exclusively seemed to concentrate on getting (usually quickly) where I wanted to, I now focus more on actually being where I am – with amazingly little success, I must admit. By making an effort to stay focussed, I'm however much more aware that I'm mostly not and actually quite somewhere else. I couldn't say what triggers my mind journeys yet while in Warsaw I'm occasionally (this is what I remember) also in Lima and Barranquilla. I enjoy it, and I'm fascinated by it. And no, I'm not interested in figuring out what my mind is doing yet I do have my moments when I think that our cause and effect way of thinking is more than just limited.
In Brazil I've learned to judge a hotel by its breakfast buffet and the one in my Warsaw hotel is excellent. Also, the room (I was given one on the 14th floor with a splendid view) is pleasent, comes with good reading light (a rarity) and so I spend quite some time (I increasingly abhor TV) with the three books that I brought along – one happened to take place in Brazil, another in Washington, and yet another in the Congo.