Over the years I’ve been here, the summer months in Warsaw have not really changed that much. There has always been a lot of heat, a few good storms and far fewer people than the rest of the year. Admittedly, the number of people (& cars) has slowly increased over the years. When I first arrived, a summer weekend would have me thinking I’d missed an evacuation siren, so much did the capital city resemble a ghost town. In those days you really were hard-pressed to find anyone else in the streets. With so few people around, there were fewer shops open and those that were had not yet discovered the ploy of “summer sales” to tempt the lonely punters. I have vague memories of a strange word (began with F perhaps?) used back then to indicate that there might be some reductions inside but I can’t remember what it was, it certainly wasn’t the obvious wprzedaż. Nowadays, the shop windows are ablaze with notices, many of them in English.
I was going on to state that roadworks have also been an evergreen feature of summer months in Warsaw but as I write I’m wondering if this is, in fact, true? I hesitate because I have memories of saying things like “Why can’t they do all these roadworks in the summer when nobody is in town!!”. Didn’t the roadworks season used to start in October/November or something equally ridiculous? The place was empty for months then, just as all the traffic gets back to town, they start with the roadworks! It certainly happened once or twice at least. Perhaps something to do with budgets or elections or something?
Anyway, in recent memory the summer is the time to play “Hide & Seek” with your favourite route to work, shops, everything. For the duration of the summer you can guarantee that whatever routes you used to use, no longer work! There is, perhaps, a website chocked full of useful information about what roadworks are planned and how long they’ll last but if there is, I’ve never found it. They spring up everywhere and are often so badly thought out that they managed to create traffic havoc even when there are only 27 cars left moving in Warsaw. The organisation of the roadworks themselves, the construction end of it, is also quite random in terms of its effectiveness. Here’s one I came across the other day on Powązkowska:
They have closed the right hand lane completely (a good thing because it was starting to resemble a fairground ride more than a road surface) and shoved everyone into the left lane. One small issue here though is the traffic lights you can see at the end of, and the other side of, the fence. There is another street (Tatarska) that joins with Powązkowska at this point with traffic coming from the right, as you look at the photo. The lights are, I would say, quite an important feature of the road system here, especially when you have a sodding great fence blocking your vision, so the brilliant idea of leaving them where they were, on the wrong side of the fence, seems just a little dangerous to me. It is just asking for someone who is not paying too much attention to fail to realise that the lights are still relevant, because they are hidden from view and not in the line of traffic, and to drive straight on and into the side of a driver or cyclist (who still has a green light) from Tatarska!
To be fair, the people in front of me in this queue did notice the lights and stopped when red. It certainly wasn’t so obvious for me. Reacting to lights hidden behind fences over lanes that you’re not in clearly involves a mental process that I am lacking.
Is it really too much to ask for a small extension of the lighting system that is actually directed at the oncoming diverted traffic?
NATURE UPDATE – jollying themselves in our ‘garden’ today were a Green Woodpecker and a Jay. Both quite colourful and both relatively shy birds.