January 18th, 2018
While Chopin probably used a feather quill dipped in ink to compose his masterpieces, the 21st Century writer in Warsaw has a very different experience. After walking in Warsaw for several hours, I was eventually able to check into my £5 a night hostel. It was clean, warm and comfortable. This seemed like the perfect place to write a blog or two. Then I found out the WiFi didn't work.
When you spend your writing life on Chrome, Google Docs and blogging platforms, it can be difficult to put together a piece without a good quality internet connection. I wish I had a typewriter, free from distractions where I could be alone with nothing more than 26 letters and a few punctuation marks. However, as a writer I need to feed off the inspiration of other blogs, I need to fact check (yes I Googled early 19th Century writing implements) (EDIT: Yes I Googled when Chopin lived) and I like to have a concentration creating, inspiration inducing music playlist in the background.
Failing to write from the hostel, I went in search of a coffee shop. An authentic, Polish coffee shop. As it turns out, authentic Polish coffee shops don't have WiFi either. So instead I went in search of a Costa, Starbucks or Caffé Nero. The nearest ones were a good 20 minute walk away, but here I was able to write with the soft background noise of Christmas music and Polish conversation. It's a lot easier not to get distracted by eavesdropping when you don't understand the language.
If you can get yourself a coffee shop with a view of the Old Town, then you really feel like you're writing in the footsteps of Chopin. The architecture - originally built in the 13th Century but entirely rebuilt with meticulous accuracy following the Second World War - provides a calming, yet intriguing atmosphere conducive to good writing. And as I walk back to my hostel, across the river in the fading daylight and through the Praga District, I am handed yet more inspiration on a plate.
The Praga District was where the Soviet Union chose to house the city's undesirables. Alcoholics and released prisoners would end up here providing a dark edge in stark contrast to the fairytale feel of the Old Town. It was while drinking in a dimly lit dive bar that poetry began to form in my mind. Laptopless, I quickly noted the words down on my phone.
I am at a new hostel now, from which I am writing this post. This hostel has fast and consistent internet. I am alone in an 8 bed dorm, the other bunks devoid of bedding. It's only just gone 4pm, but already is dark outside. To my right, a large window and a spectacular view of an uplit church through the naked trees. The only noise is the click of my keyboard and the squealing wheels of passing trams. This is a nice place to write.
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