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Communist Warsaw Tour

Communist Warsaw Tour

I've written previously about my fascination with Poland's tiny communist era "family" car, but here's a photo refresher below:

The Polski Fiat 126p, aka the "Maluch", roughly "toddler", or "little one". It was the family car of the Polish People's Republic (i.e. Communist Poland). Although, almost unbelievably, they kept on building the Maluch straight through the year 2000. I've heard tales from Polish friends reminiscing about their childhoods, and families of four piling into these cars for five-hour drives to the seashore in the summer, and the mountains in the winter (luggage strapped to the roof and in laps). I think it goes without saying that I've wanted to go for a spin ever since seeing one for the first time. Not as far as the Polish mountains of course, but at least around town. I wondered if I'd even fit.  

Enter the Mrs. and Warsaw Tours. I'm apparently not the only foreigner who's wanted to drive a Maluch before. There's enough demand that the company created a self-driving tour of Warsaw, where you drive yourselves and a guide in a Maluch through the city. The Mrs. remembered seeing the cars parked during our summer walks, and thoughtfully booked a tour for me as a birthday present. 

Company cars from a photo we took during the summer.

Company cars from a photo we took during the summer.

Now, my birthday is in February. Luckily for me, Warsaw Tours is crazy enough to keep running in the winter. Even when the temperature was an icy -14 degrees C, as it was on my birthday (7 degrees for those of you who think in Fahrenheit). The tours come in several themes, but we were destined to choose "Communist Poland" because, after all, we'd be driving the people's automobile. Despite the cold, the tour was awesome. Our guide was fantastic and very, very knowledgeable. I learned a lot, and we even discovered a couple of hidden gems hidden just down the street from our flat (including the mural/relief shown in the first photo).  

Ready...

Ready...

Set... (That's the guide in the backseat fwiw)...

Set... (That's the guide in the backseat fwiw)...

Go!

Go!

Driving a Maluch was an experience. It has the acceleration of children's tricycle and the stopping ability of a first-time skier. Luckily, everyone on the road here already knows this, so you get a wide berth. It's not exactly comfortable if you're above 6 feet tall, and the heat didn't really work in the cold weather, but you can, literally, park it anywhere because it's so small. I'm glad I got to try it out once, as now I know I can cross it off the list of "cars I'd want to own someday". Some more photos from the tour:

Stopped in the courtyard of a pre-communist ear building in Warsaw's Praga District.

Stopped in the courtyard of a pre-communist ear building in Warsaw's Praga District.

For the gearheads... a 2-cylinder, 24-horsepower, 650 cubic centermeter engine in the trunk. No, I don't know why there are roles of toilet paper on a string in the back window... we should have asked.

For the gearheads... a 2-cylinder, 24-horsepower, 650 cubic centermeter engine in the trunk. No, I don't know why there are roles of toilet paper on a string in the back window... we should have asked.

Goofy ear-to-ear grin after the tour...

Goofy ear-to-ear grin after the tour...

If you ever come to Warsaw to visit, I'm game to do this again... Just sayin'.

Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday)

Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday)

Be the Tsar in this Polish village

Be the Tsar in this Polish village