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  Warsaw (Poland)

  Don't be disheartened(沮丧)when you arrive in Warsaw and you discover it is not an Eastern European paradise. The city is really a big accident. Giant glass skyscrapers dominate the center, whilst(同时)ugly communist Lego-construction style tower blocks are omnipresent(无处不在)。 The city was levelled(夷平)by the Germans in World War II and has been completely rebuilt in tasteless communist grey.

  Since 1989 the capitalists rebuilt the centre with barely more finesse, preferring to use glass and plastic. There are hardly any historic buildings, although the old town is an exact reconstruction of pre-war Warsaw, and the Russians built the Palace of Culture with German money intended as reparations(赔款)for war crimes. Poles(波兰人)are divided about the fate of this building, half of whom would like to knock it down, and the other half preferring to keep it as a focal point of Warsaw and a living part of Polish history.

  All this architectural gloominess should not deter you from enjoying your visit. Warsaw is actually a great place for a short or medium term visit. The Poles love to party, especially the younger crowd, although the older ones will join in too if there is a genuine reason for the celebration. You'll find a plethora(过多)of bars and restaurants to indulge yourself in. There are a few local guides you can buy at the airport, big hotels and big newsagents, which will point you in the right direction. In addition to the bars and restaurants, there are a few sights you should see.

  Once you have been in town for a few days and begin to recognize the buildings, visit a museum of Warsaw History in the Old Town Square - Rynek - and you'll see the same buildings but in a pre-capitalist Warsaw where advertising was illegal. The difference is startling. Until now the Poles have tried to hide the Jewish Ghetto: an area that was walled off to contain the Jews in World War II. Reminders are beginning to spring up, and a huge museum to this event will be constructed in 2003. And if you are interested in where real Poles live, you can take a trip to Ursynow and see a typical bland Warsaw landscape.

  The cost-conscious visitor may have a nasty surprise after visiting other cities in Eastern Europe. Warsaw is relatively expensive, lining up with Western European cities. There does not seem to be any logic behind this anomaly(异常)。 Far more tourists visit Prague every year, but it is much cheaper. It seems only to be the sheer size of the Polish population attracting foreign businesses and their money.

  One interesting contrast in Warsaw is the difference between rich and poor. Being the capital city, it attracts both the elite(精英)and the desperate. You can walk across the road from the train station where alcoholics wander aimlessly to the Marriott hotel where businessmen wine and dine their coquettish girlfriends. There's no need to be afraid of visiting the train station: it looks far worse than it is, and is used frequently by the majority of the population.

  Another interesting contrast is between the women and the men. The women are extremely fashion conscious, and no matter which style they dress in, it is always provocative. The men on the other hand are either mostly skin heads or dress very conservatively, preferring to spend their money on material possessions. There are of course also the nouveaux-riches(暴发户)who dress more or less as they might do in any other city in the world.

  You either love Warsaw or you hate it. Most people who love it are men, mainly because they end up getting married to beautiful Polish women, but there is plenty for ladies to enjoy in this city too, so long as they are not desperately looking for a husband. Most people stay about a week, which gives ample time to take in the local atmosphere.
 

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