Stop one on the #EuroLongevityTour: Warsaw
Off and on during school, I worked at OZ Architecture in Denver. During this time I had the privilege of working with four curious, talented Polish Americans. In most cases I got to know their families and knew these architects to be some of the most kind and creative people I've known. This reputation was met again during my time in Poland, a country with great pride—deservedly so.
After having an entertaining Uber ride from the airport Friday evening, I found a group of college students who spoke wonderful English. Of course I asked them where I might I find older adults. Their first response was: "...the hospital!" This joke quickly transitioned to respect and the answers became more thoughtful.
The Hala Mirowska
The best answer was the local market—specifically, the Hala Mirowska. It is an old market in the center of Warsaw. The Saturday morning elder rush hour was a bit overwhelming and as time passed more older patrons were shopping with younger family members.
These elders seemed to move with a sense of purpose and had a deep connection, not solely to the experience and routine of frequenting the market, but with the other patrons.
Playing, Socializing, Relaxing, Walking
Outside of the market sprawls a large public park. Warsaw is full of beautiful parks, and on a Saturday morning next to the market, it was packed with older adults. Some were relaxing on the bench or chatting with a friend.
Some were briskly walking home with bags of groceries, but my favorites were those playing next to the children at the playground. To me, this image encapsulates the concept of healthy aging.
Other suggestions from the students included veterans' associations and the cemetery, as many elders visit memorials. Next time I will have plenty to explore...preferably with a translator and grandchildren.
Next to an enormous Samsung building, a short walk from the Warsaw Uprising Museum, is a new residential real estate development. Along the outer walls of the development, ad campaign posters are plastered tall with with portrait images of young children, youthful 30-somethings, and gleaming elderly faces. The images face a wide road.
It seems as though the advertisers wanted to depict happiness, laughter and smiling across the generations and I believe they did a wonderful job. I'd even consider moving to Warsaw at this rate. American developers and marketers: take note!
Millennial Sacrifices His Soda
I stopped for lunch and ate outside on a raised portion of sidewalk. A young man was sitting next to me. He had his headphones on and we never said a word to one another, but what he did makes me proud to be a millennial.
Just after he sat down, we heard a loud thud—an older woman had tripped on the uneven sidewalk. He sprung up so quickly to help her that he spilled his cola. I tried to tell him how kind his gesture was, but his headphones went right back into his ears after making sure his new friend was okay. Maybe it's a millennial thing.
Regardless of his reaction time, his authentic concern and humble nature were especially comforting coming from a fellow Gen Y.
Healthy Aging + Architecture in Warsaw Old Town