This story begins with a simple invitation. My girlfriend and I invited my two nephews to stay with us in Warsaw for a few days. We thought it would a new experience for them to spend time in the big city, looking after our nephews by ourselves was also going to be a new experience for us. We planned so many attractions that I joked to my sister that she will not recognize her boys at the end of the trip … I was not wrong … let’s start from the beginning …

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On July 29, 2018 we left Puławy in 30-degree heat and headed towards to the capital. My sister and her husband drove us the 120km to Warsaw. After arriving at our apartment they said goodbye quickly, not even wanting to stop for a coffee after a 3 hour drive, they were happy to have a few days of freedom without their 2 eldest children. So then it was Auntie and I now completely alone with a 4.5-year-old and an 8-year-old… We started to wonder if this was a good idea. But … there was no turning back now, after all we have 3 full days of activities and sight seeing planned.

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We start the afternoon by taking the boys to Mokotów Field. We live close, so this is an ideal opportunity…they begin complaining about the 15 minute walk and take a seat at a bus stop to rest. We finally arrive at the playground. Somehow they regain their energy and begin to run around the playground like crazy, exploring every piece of equipment. Auntie and I look at each other and realise that they do not need much to be happy and our planned itinerary may not quite appeal to them.

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The boys are running around the playground, we agree that we should split up and each of us keeps an eye on one child. Antek is playing on the see saw, a second later Antek falls, crash, his knee is bloody, but he doesn’t allow himself to cry. We sit on the bench, wash the wound and get plaster for the wound from a lady at a nearby ice cream parlor (and my sister gave me a packet of plasters, only I forgot to pack in my backpack). After a few minutes the pain is gone. We’re taking a break. We take boys for fries. We’re going to Pub Tola. We order four servings. Franek wants a lot of ketchup. Both order Tymbark apple-mint juice. Unfortunately, there is only plain apple juice.

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Stomachs full of fries and drinks, the guys are full of energy, and it’s already well past 8pm. We’re back at the playground. There, they meet other children and quickly become friends. The party lasts until sunset. It’s time to head back home. The boys are bathing, and we are preparing the sofa bed and creating a small home cinema, which we promised them after returning. Today’s screening is FROZEN – they have seen the movie a million times, but they promised Auntie – who had not seen it yet – that they would show it to her. Popcorn ready! Move begins! Two bowls of popcorn later, we both collapse on the bed and the boys are hypnotized by the movie, they don’t seem tired yet. But it’s late, we stop watching, and arrange to finish tomorrow. We’re all going to sleep.  

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July 30, 2018 – I get up very early before everyone and head to the bakery for bread. When I come back, I wake up everyone and we prepare for the first full day of adventure. Franek and I want a “knock- knock egg”. For those who do not know – it’s a soft-boiled egg, Franek calls it a knock- knock egg because you have to knock the egg with a spoon to take the shell off. Auntie and Antek eat traditional scrambled eggs. After breakfast, we’re preparing to go out. Auntie and I check everything: plasters, drinking water for everyone, towels and a change of clothes for the boys, tissues, hats, sun cream. I think we’re ready to go.

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We’re going to the metro – it’s a big event for the boys, it’s their first time! Franek asks a lot of questions about the metro. We go underground. Their faces are priceless, especially Franek. He rejoices like a small child – well, he is a small child. We get off at the Central station. We are in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. It is very early and it’s already over 30C. We have to take them somewhere inside. We’re going to PKiN to check what is on. A lady at the entrance approaches us and shows us leaflets with the STEEL GRAPHICS GALLERY exhibition – these are sculptures of steel figures, handmade from steel scrap. Bingo – this exhibition is a hit!

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The guys are in seventh heaven! There you can see heroes from comics, the most popular films for children and adults, as well as full-size replicas of sports and luxury cars and motorcycles. This is great fun and a shelter from the heat for a few hours. The guys must have counted every figure in steel that stood there and had their pictures taken with each one. The first hour passed in the blink of an eye. In the next hour, Franek hits is finger while pretending to drive one of the steel cars. (Antek’s knee yesterday and Franek’s finger today), but it’s good, we’ve managed to keep them alive so far 😉 Aunt and uncle are doing pretty well 😉 Franek is upset and wants to go because he hurt his finger. Antek is running around, playing and does not want to go. We swap with Auntie, who had to look after and comfort Franek. However, he quickly forgets his sore finger and says, “it does not hurt me anymore …” The play continues.

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After another hour and hundreds of attempts at bribery to get them out of there, we manage to take them for ice cream in Nowy Świat. After ice cream, we take UBER, because we do not want to walk in such heat and we go to the Warsaw boulevard along the river. Next stop – fountains for children. Meanwhile, after entering UBER, Franek asks: “Who is it?” He was surprised that we were getting into an unmarked vehicle, he was expecting a taxi. I explain to him that these are such “secret” taxis for people who have a special application on the phone and can order such a “taxi”. We get off at the Copernicus Science Centre, go down and sit down near the water fountains. The boys dress in swim trunks and go crazy in the water.

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Again, my girlfriend and I look at each other – they do not really need much to be happy! We spend a few hours with breaks for food and another layer of sunscreen. After another bribery with ice cream, we manage to take them out from the sun, because we are afraid that they will bake like yesterday’s French fries. We’re coming back home. It is still early, we stop by a market on the way and buy some fresh fruit that they requested. We are still planning an evening trip, but looking at their straggling footsteps and tired faces, we are decide to give the evening excursion a miss. We spend the rest of the day at home playing games, painting and of course home cinema. Another pack of popcorn and chips, which eaten in a few minutes, although Franek points out that they are unhealthy, but from time to time you can eat them 😉 After a lot of drawing and a movie marathon, we crash and go to bed.

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Another day, July 31, 2018 – Auntie and I wake up early and sit in the kitchen, planning another day full of attractions. Franek sneaks into the kitchen with his sweet smile. He sits with us and we ask if he will eat American pancakes we promised them for breakfast – of course we feed them as healthily as we can 😉 Antek yells from the bed that he will eat, but he has problems getting up, and Franek does not seem enthused to try American style pancakes. Aunte comes up with the idea that Franek will help her to make the pancakes.

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He enjoyed the cooking process so much that he forgot that he did not want to eat them and soon enough he was spreading them with the largest amount of Nutella. After breakfast, he learned to make Greek coffee with his Auntie. We had decided to head out a little later today to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day and to make sure they have enough energy for the evening, because we have plans for the Old Town and the multimedia fountain park.

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Packed and ready to leave, we are head out to continue to conquer Warsaw. We get off at Ratusz Arsenał station. Franek complains and asks why there is so much walking in Warsaw – they are used to riding their bikes around Pulawy. We head towards the Old Town, a short stop for a sip of water and to wet our heads with the cold water from the bottle. A few steps away and … there’s a fall on the road and tears. Despite his young age, Franek is a tough guy, he always gets up quickly after the fall and goes on. This time I knew there was something wrong. Adrenaline and panic engulfed Franek. I took him to the side, trying to comfort him in the shade, he began to calm slowly. At that time, Auntie was already looking for a taxi and after a while we were on the way to the hospital. I asked the driver to take us to the nearest hospital.

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We arrived at the emergency department of the Prague Hospital. I was relived that there was no queue. But my relief disappeared quickly. The lady at reception was – to put it mildly – very unpleasant. They did not want to accept us because this was an adult hospital and the doctors in this hospital must finish special studies to be able to diagnose a broken arm in a child … We were not helped. Franek’s hand was not placed in a sling to prevent further injury. We were turned away without being given any instruction on which hospital is the closest children’s hospital. After asking for an ambulance, a person came out who was probably the manager on duty at this unit and said in a very rude manner that we should go on a bus with the hurt child to hospital. We still did not know which one – because the lady who “beautifully” welcomed us, as she said herself: “nobody serves anyone here, we only works for the health service” … whatever that means …. I made a few phone calls to find out the correct information and I was given addresses of children’s hospitals.

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Another UBER – a great driver who comforted Franek all the way, drove us to the Warsaw Children’s Hospital on Copernicus 43. They took care of us, like from a fairy tale. If you need a hospital, then this is the one I recommend. Wonderful care. We were taken care of with full “empathy” (I write this word in quotes, because unfortunately not many people know what it means). Franek’s hand was placed in a sling immediately, we were told what to do. The doctor accepted us very quickly. Then it was just an X-ray, diagnosis and then a bed in a ward. Unfortunately, it was the breaking of two forearm bones with displacement and the parents as legal guardians (who were already on their way to Warsaw) had to decide whether plaster or surgery. Surgery was decided as the best choice. Franek has a free arm from unnecessary plaster, which did not guarantee that the bone would heal as it should. Franek is smiling and walks with his arm in a sling.

And I can only thank the Warsaw Children’s Hospital for Copernicus 43 for great care and for showing off the humanity that we miss today so much.

Please avoid the Prague Hospital!

And that’s how I broke my nephew.

It was a new experience for all of us, and the boys came back home in a slightly different condition … 😉

ps. Fortunately, they still want to come to visit their uncle and finish sightseeing in Warsaw 😉

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pps – The boys kept saying during their stay that they wanted their parents to be with them, because they could enjoy the activities together. In a sense, it has come true. After Franek was released from hospital, the whole family went to Old Town for ice cream and the Warsaw Mermaid (the main attraction the boys kept talking about).

Pawel Dobrowolski