Warsaw Hub

5 Things You Can't Miss In Warsaw, Poland

LOW RES WAW1 Wojciech Staszczyk https-:www.flickr.com:photos:wstaszczyk:14201137721:
This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

For nearly a century, Warsaw was a city at times synonymous with strife and political upheaval — a victim of the Third Reich and then the Soviets after that. It’s endured invasions from Swedes and Prussians, and has had more Russian soldiers coming in and out of it than a … well, nevermind. It’s got a reputation for grey skies and dull architecture. Even its name — Warsaw — has a kind of gloomy ring to it. But recently, something’s been happening: The hipsters and the artists and the chefs from Berlin and Prague decided to move east where rents were cheaper; and with art and food and music (and gays!) came a newfound vibrancy. Soon after followed the boutique hotels and bars full of cute gay boys and re-emerging neighborhoods. Warsaw is surprisingly affordable for a European capital. While it’s part of the European Union, it still hasn’t adopted the Euro, and exchange rates for the Zloty are very favorable.

Much like Austin is to Texas, or Columbus to Ohio, this Polish city of 1.7 million is a relatively liberal dot in an otherwise conservative region. It’s a cosmopolitan, international city, where homosexuality has never been illegal, and where today, an enormous rainbow arch (known locally as Tecza) sculpted from thousands of plastic flowers sits in one of the central squares as a symbol of tolerance.

On May 9 and June 6, the monthly COXY Party — a Berlin-esque, gay boy techno rave — returns to the city for its summer monthly residency. It’s fun, friendly and packed with a broad spectrum of guys. Fly in for the June 6 event, spend the week with your new friends from raucous COXY, and then stay through the next weekend to experience Warsaw Gay Pride on June 13. 

If you decide to support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Warsaw you'll find lots of interesting attractions, sites and activities. For our complete list of must-see attractions, download our current issue. For now, enjoy our top 5 picks not to miss.

1.The Hotel BristolPart of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, this elegant, old world hotel has been beautifully renovated in an Art Deco/Hollywood Regency style and is set in an historic 1901 building on the edge of the Old Quarter and next to the presidential palace. We loved the on-site wine bar and bistro, park views, and plush, comfy beds, very central location and an accommodating staff.

2. Warszawa Wchodnia by Mateusz GesslerThis posh, upscale restaurant on the other side of the river, in the Praga LOW RES WAW4 https-:www.flickr.com:photos:25063318@N00:14273229663: district, specializes in French/Polish cuisine. Sit outside on a nice day, or inside at the counter surrounding the open kitchen and watch the handsome staff prepare your meal. It’s located in the Soho Factory, a collection of avant garde businesses in an old factory building.

3.Lazienki ParkFor an infusion of culture, start with a sunny day stroll through this extensive park, where you’ll find fountains, a palace, and beautiful gardens and sculptures, including a disproportionate number of stunning men in marble.

4. The Jewish CemeteryThis forgotten graveyard makes for a nice cultural companion to the Warsaw Rising museum, offering a different take on the scope of loss endured by Poland’s Jewish community. While the city’s adjacent Catholic cemetery is well-groomed and tended, the seemingly derelict and overgrown Jewish cemetery contextualizes the war in a poignant way.

5. Cafe Bar SzpilkaLocated across from the rainbow arch, this technically mixed (though very gay) bar is packed with cute boys, open 24 hours, and an uber trendy scene. Best to visit in the early hours after the clubs have closed. 

For even more insider recommendations in Warsaw for other destinations around the globe and in the U.S., get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

And ManAboutWorld is now on the iPhone! Android coming soon. To download for the iPhone, click HERE.

Image credits: Top: Wojciech Staszczyk; Right: Billy Kolber; Bottom: Magdalena Roeseler

LOW RES WAW7 Magdalena Roeseler https-:www.flickr.com:photos:magdalenaroeseler:14601872009:

World Famous Heterosexual Pro Boxer Becomes Leading Face of LGBT Rights in Poland


An internationally-renowned straight professional boxer is making headlines in Poland after he showed up to an LGBT rights event in Warsaw to support equality, NYT correspondent Slawomir Sierakowski reports:

D-MichalczewskiDariusz Michalczewski, a world-famous pugilist who goes by the nickname Tiger, recently made headlines by announcing his support for one of the country’s most prominent gay rights groups, Shoulder to Shoulder on Equality — L.G.B.T. and Friends, by appearing in a photograph with a sign reading, “I am an ally of L.G.B.T. people, because I want to live in a country where my gay friends are not discriminated against.”

Read a report from Poland here.

Michalczewski explained his decision to participate in the campaign:

"I just love people! I'm not a racist and do not judge people because of their sexual orientation. I'll give you an example. Two young men live near me. They are smiling, friendly, accommodating. We all like them. And then someone noticed that they kiss. Neighbors began to hate them...Did they change? No. They are still those same valuable people. You have to treat them differently because they are gay? This (kind of treatment) is sick! It prompted me to participate in this campaign."

The NYT adds:

Mr. Michalczewski is both a surprising advocate for gay rights and the perfect choice for the role: He is white, heterosexual, Catholic, rich, professionally successful and widely popular, and thus more likely to persuade conservatives than a liberal intellectual or politician. A typical young man from an economically depressed town that doesn’t have a single movie theater but has five churches might not get a chance to read a progressive manifesto. The opinions of a legendary boxer who grew up under similar circumstances, meanwhile, might prove thought-provoking.

And Mr. Michalczewski has guts: The popular sportsman did not limit himself to one photograph. He supports not only homosexuals’ right to enter into civil unions, but also their right to adopt children. In one TV appearance, he directly confronted right-wing politicians, by asking: “What if your daughter were a lesbian? What if your son were gay? If it were my child, I would love him very much. And I would support him in everything, because he’d be my child!”

Perhaps there is hope for LGBT rights in eastern Europe.

(Via Aksarbent)

Far-Right Demonstrators Torch 'Gay Rights' Rainbow in Warsaw Public Square: VIDEO


A massive rainbow public art sculpture which was not intended as, but has become, a symbol of gay rights and diversity, was torched earlier this week by far-right nationalists.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

3_rainbowAl Jazeera reports:

Warsaw's main boulevard, Marszalkowska, and neighbouring areas turned into a war zone on the Independence Day March on November 11. Row after row of mostly male youth marched along the boulevard spilling into sidewalks and side streets.They carried flags with Celtic crosses and white power fists, chanted slogans with visceral force and filled the centre of the city with fire-cracker smoke. The parade, with the number of protesters set at around 15,000, was organised by two of the most prominent far-right organisations in the country, the All-Polish Youth and the National-Radical Camp.

Few passers-by dared to stick around and watch the spectacle.

Within one hour of the start of the demonstration, participants had attacked two squats in the centre of Warsaw (Syrena and Przychodnia) and burnt down a rainbow installation in Plac Zbawicela, an artistic installation standing for diversity.

The NYT reported on the sculpture back in March, noting that already the rainbow had been set on fire four times and come under fire from right-wing groups and politicians:

What was intended as a work of public art without an overt political message beyond the need for inclusiveness, according to the artist behind it, has instead become part of a culture war over homosexuality that has been brewing in one of Europe’s most Catholic countries...

...Stanislaw Pieta, a member of Parliament from the conservative Law and Justice Party, the main opposition faction in Poland, called the placement of the rainbow on a grassy circle in front of the church a “disgusting gesture, offensive to Catholics.” He added, “It’s a provocation.”

Although city officials and the artist, Julita Wojcik, say the rainbow is not a monument to gay rights, both its supporters and opponents find they can agree on what the rainbow symbolizes.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Far-Right Demonstrators Torch 'Gay Rights' Rainbow in Warsaw Public Square: VIDEO" »

Should Maurizio Cattelan's Hitler Pray In Warsaw Ghetto?

HimItalian artist Maurizio Cattelan's 'HIM,' a 2001 sculpture of Adolf Hitler praying on his knees, has shown all over the world, including New York City's Guggenheim and Venice's Palazzo Grassi, eliciting emotions everywhere it appears. And that's precisely the point.

Cattelan, also infamous for creating a sculpture of Pope John Paul II getting hit by a meteor, deceives the viewer into believing the small body, typically approached from the back, is a school boy.

When they approach and see the big reveal, they're jolted.

"When people see this piece, they react with gasps, tears, disbelief. The impact is stunning," collector and Holocaust survivor Stefan Edlis told The Economist in 2009. "Politics aside, that is how you judge art.”

But should the likeness of the most vile anti-Semite be placed at the site of Poland's Warsaw Ghetto, home to so many Jewish people killed by Hitler's Nazi armies?

Vanessa Gera offers details:

The Warsaw ghetto was an area of the city which the Nazis sealed off after they invaded Poland. They forced Jews to live in cramped, inhuman conditions there as they awaited deportation to death camps. Many died from hunger or disease or were shot by the Germans before they could be transported to the camps.

The Hitler representation is visible from a hole in a wooden gate across town on Prozna Street. Viewers only see the back of the small figure praying in a courtyard. Because of its small size, it appears to be a harmless schoolboy.

"Every criminal was once a tender, innocent and defenseless child," the center said in a commentary on the work.

HIM was installed there by Warsaw's Center for Contemporary Art last month, but growing outrage is gaining traction this week.

"As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler's only 'prayer' was that they be wiped off the face of the earth," said Efraim Zuroff, director of US-based Jewish rights group The Simon Weisenthal Center's Israeli outpost. Zuroff described the installation as "a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis' Jewish victims."

CCA's director, Fabio Cavallucci, insists HIM isn't mean to insult the memory of the dead. Rather, it's a reminder of "hidden evil" everywhere.

"There is no intention from the side of the artist or the center to insult Jewish memory," he said. "It's an artwork that tries to speak about the situation of hidden evil everywhere."

Michael Shudrich, Poland's chief rabbi, supports HIM, and even wrote an introduction to the exhibition's catalogue. Art "force[s] us to face the evil of the world," he wrote, according to the AP. He also said, "I felt there could be educational value to it."

Do you agree?


Reporters Told 'Kiss My Ass' and 'Shove It' for Asking Mitt Romney Questions in Warsaw: VIDEO


Mitt Romney's traveling Press Secretary Rick Gorka cursed at frustrated reporters today after they questioned Mitt Romney in a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, CNN reports:

As Romney made his way to his vehicle, reporters attempted to shout questions to the candidate. The former Massachusetts governor, who has answered only three questions from his traveling press corps during a week-long overseas trip, ignored the queries.

CNN's transcript:

NN: "Governor Romney are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?

NYT: "Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?

Washington Post: "What about your gaffes?

NYT: "Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"

CNN: "Governor Romney just a few questions sir, you haven't taken but three questions on this trip from the press!

Gorka: "Show some respect"

NYT: "We haven't had another chance to ask a question..."

Gorka: "Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."

Shortly thereafter, Gorka told Politico reporter Jonathan Martin to "shove it."


Continue reading "Reporters Told 'Kiss My Ass' and 'Shove It' for Asking Mitt Romney Questions in Warsaw: VIDEO" »

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #700

WILLIE HORTON: FOX News and Barack Obama.

MEATWAD: The dog and his devious dogsitter.

CANINE CRUSADER: Pug sings the Batman theme.

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK: Speaks to Europride Warsaw.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


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