Warsaw User Guide – Mermaid

Are Poles friendly? I am often asked this Q. They are shy at first but once you get passed the perfunctory intro and small talk stuffs, they are friends in need. You can count on them in mo’s of trouble. A little one I had last night when my car alarm went off and eventually drained the battery. Two cops on the beat helped to located the switch for turning off the alarm, a stranger helped to push the car (but the battery was too far gone to be resuscitated) and finally, another stranger with cables jumped start (jump-started?) my car. Meanwhile, my neighbour arrived with car  and cables for I’d called him earlier.

Perhaps I am reading too much into the Mermaid, the symbol of Warsaw. According to a legend, she was saved by a stranger and in return, she took up arms to defend his village. I would just send a bottle of whiskey and move on. But the Mermaid was kinda like how Poles can be – once you win their trust, they stick with you through thick and thin. More about the Mermaid below

Warsaw Insider (September 2011)

Since 1390, Warsaw’s coat of arms has the Syrenka (Mermaid) on it. Ever wondered why she’s brandishing a sword? And did you know she’s related to the one in Copenhagen? There’s a legend to it…as always. Mermaid One, as we know, went to Denmark. Her sister flipped her tail all the way to Gdańsk and via the Vistula River, ended up in Warsaw. To cut a long legend short, she was locked up by a baddie who wanted her to sing for his meals. The saviour, in the form of a fisherman’s son, heard her cries and freed her. In return, she vowed to defend his village, which was where the armoury came in. Most of us have our first encounter with the Syrenka in the Old Town Square. The second one, erected along the river in the Powiśle district, is modeled on poetess Krystyna Krahelska, who defended the capital city during the Warsaw Uprising. Under the codename of Danuta, Krahelska served as a nurse. Unfortunately, she was fatally wounded on day one of the insurgency. A third one, with beguiling fantasy heroine looks, is found on Wiaduktu Markiewicza, a windy street going down from ul. Karowa (next to the Bristol Hotel). Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see this half-woman half-fish all around you, on public transport, tickets, and more.


About kitfchung

Experienced food and travel journalist based in Warsaw, Poland.
This entry was posted in Poland, Published articles, Warsaw and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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