Now I don’t generally hold with past-life stuff but during my one previous visit to Warsaw, I had stepped off the plane to the strangest sense that I’d been there before. Wistfully recalling my late-1990s visit to Peter, I described old houses and classic trams, quiet squares, and buildings which still bore shrapnel wounds.
This time around we exited the train station to several glass and steel behemoths, a Costa coffee, and a giant sign for H&M. The connection was gone. Putting aside the question as to why I’d felt it originally (one too many faux-medieval town squares, perhaps? A romantic notion of my family history? My 14-year-old self desperate to forge a connection with anywhere other than Kingston-upon-Thames?), one thing was clear: Warsaw was not the dainty backwater with an identity crisis that I’d developed in my mind. This is a city that’s going places.