I’ve never been to Poznan before but a bouncer in one of the Birmingham venues told me that it was his favourite Polish city. A few of us headed out together, to go for an energising swim. We wandered from the pool into town and I swear we must have gone through the worst bits because my first impression was that Poznan was grotty. Once in the town itself it was easy to see why my Birmingham friend spoke so highly of the place. The old town is so pretty, with painted houses, a lovely square and even a clock that around midday bursts forth with two mechanical fighting goats. Incredible!
After a lovely walk around in the sun, we went on a hunt for food and found Chatka Babuni, an amazing pierogi place which serves up all sorts of variations on this Polish classic. It was definitely one of my favourite meals of the trip, oven baked pierogi with different sauces and a lovely garlic sauce. I had it with a black coffee and mint lemonade. Feeling sad right now that I can’t have it.
I always remember my friend Marie-Louise’s Polish grandmother telling me ‘for a long time Poland didn’t exist as a country’ which sounded very confusing concept to a ten-year old. It’s a shame that not a lot of people know the hard times Polish people has face and also how much Poland has to offer, much more than being the butt of anti-immigration jokes. Between Nazi invasion and Communist regime it’s a country that has faced extreme hardship, but then I guess it’s very British of me to root for the underdog!
One such hardship was the destruction of Warsaw’s old town by Nazi bombing during the second world war, most of the damage was done after the Warsaw Uprising. But you know what? Those guys took paintings, family photos and architectural plans and lovingly rebuilt the whole thing, sifting through the rubble for original features. If that’s not the most wonderful thing that you’ve heard today I’ll eat my trainers. I’m aware that I sound totally ‘This One Amazing Thing That These People Did Will Change The Way You Look At Bricks Forever.’
Anyway, I massively digress. Warsaw immediately made it onto my ‘visit again’ list, it’s an effortlessly lovely place with a great buzz about it. My first sight was the Jewish monument to the Ghetto Uprising, we’d not long all been on a grim day trip to Auschwitz on one of the days off and it felt right to visit this memorial to one of the largest Jewish revolts of the war. After that, I lightened the mood considerably with a visit to the amazing Paradox Café, a place for gamers and World of Warcraft enthusiasts to crab a coffee and chill with their nerd-buds. Great.
I walked back towards the old town in the sun, falling more and more in love with the place and the kind of people that would determinedly rebuild their city brick by brick. Everyone was out in the sun, obviously enjoying one of the first few days of Spring which only added to the good vibes.
I got the bus back towards our venue (you know I started to become quite the pro at foreign public transport) and went for a walk in the beautiful Lazienki Park, a massive which has a Palace on the water, rivers, other palaces… It’s basically huge! Once I’d been walking for about four hours, I decided to get back, picking up some biscuits for the band and crew who couldn’t make it out.
My last encounter with Krakow included a run-in (not literally) with a man openly wanking in the street, so I wasn’t worried about surpassing that visit. We had a hotel that night, so I got some lovely takeaway veggie food, a beer and a chocolate bar and holed myself up for an early night in my room. As it happened, sleeping came much more easily on the tour bus and I read Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit cover to cover before falling asleep around 5.30. Still, I hauled my ass up, took a lift selfie and resolved to see more of the place.
Krakow is hella pretty -I remember on my first trip being really impressed- and conveniently most of the best bits are within an easily navigable old town (the ol’ Stare Miasto again!) I think I was flagging a little that day, you can sort of tell by my pictures, they look a little half-hearted. Definitely blaming lack of sleep, but also a graphic anti-abortion protest happening in the main square when I walked past. I mean, I appreciate differences in political opinion, but nothing is going to get my back up more than people telling me what to do with my body, especially when coupled with stupidly horrific images. Cheers guys.
Anyway, feminist rants aside, I did really love my little wander around Krakow, saw some really lovely bits, especially round the Vistula river, which in the hazy light looked kind of eerie.