MISJA 21: Podróż dookoła Polski w 21 dni Euro

Nasi wysłannicy z Londynu i Łodzi - Petter Larsson z City University i Maciej Stańczyk z Gazety Wyborczej - przemierzają kraj w poszukiwaniu największego sukcesu i porażki Mistrzostw Europy w Piłce Nożnej UEFA - Euro 2012.

Bydgoszcz - Kimberley Bailey

  • sobota, 25 czerwca 2011
    • Bye bye Bydgoszcz...

      After an overnight stay in Warsaw I will be flying back to my home in London. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

       

      I am looking forward to being able to understand what people around me are saying, I have missed the ease of knowing where I am going and how to get there and I’m excited about being able to do something without having to write about it later that day.

      But those things aside, I am genuinely going to miss this city; the architecture, the strolls around Mill Island, the food and the drink.

      Although it has not been without its challenges. As I’ve written about before I have struggled to find my way around the city, to use the transport and to break down the language barrier.

      Bydgoszcz has a lot to offer and as seen in the comments on my blog for Misja21 the people of the city have been happy to help and guide me and I’ve felt very welcome. Unfortunately Bydgoszcz, along with other Polish cities I’m sure, isn’t prepared for tourism... yet!

      The absence of signposting, the lack of information at the train station and the difficulties involved in using the transport create a sense of exclusivity in Bydgoszcz and means that tourists and visitors can feel very much like outsiders.

      Throughout my time here I’ve tasted traditional food and alcohol, I’ve witnessed a Catholic procession, I’ve spoken with native Poles, I’ve used trams and trains and water buses, I’ve visited museums and cathedrals and I’ve even witnessed Polish Karaoke.

      Tourists will be doing all of these things if they visit Bydgoszcz - and it’s definitely a possibilty that they will considering the fact that it’s so accessible with an airport offering direct flights from London and other cities. So it’s important that the city - and more vitally, Poland - is excited and prepared for the influx of people, for the increase in interest and for the pressure both from foreigners and for meeting expectations.

      Hosting Euro2012 will inevitably be an honour, it will be thrilling and it will be hard work.

      For any country - whether it’s in Europe, America or the UK - hosting an important event on such a large scale is ultimately a catalyst for change, for improvement and for reflection. 

      In an interview I had with Piotr Kurek he said he was inspired by my trip to Bydgoszcz - which was very flattering - and thinks it’s so important for the city and for the country. He would like to see more tourism in Bydgoszcz and in Poland. He wants to expand the existing interest and relationship with foreigners that Krakow and Warsaw have.

      These cities are ready for stag dos, for football fans and for holiday makers. (Although I must add that Warsaw railway station was certainly not prepared for the participants of Misja21).

      Most importantly, does Poland want visitors? I’ve had a mixed reaction, it’s a tale of two sides. I’ve encountered hospitality and I’ve encountered ignorance.

      Visually there are two opposing elements to the city also. I have spent a lot of time admiring the architecture, the restoration of 19th Century buildings, the attention, time and love paid to areas such as Mill Island, the Old Town and the Music District. But I also can’t help but notice the run-down, neglected and un-loved parts such as Londynek and the buildings along the riverside I noticed throughout my water tram ride.

       

      The restored meets the forgotten. The old meets the new. The pride meets the shame. The welcoming meets the wary.

      These two sides and two characteristics are truly mirrored in Poland and within Polish people.

      There is a battle between being proud to be Polish; patriotic, Catholic, inclusive and quick to defend the country but also a strong mentality of critically looking at themselves and passing harsh judgement on their shortcomings.

      Earlier in the week I tried to buy a tram ticket from a kiosk in the centre of Bydgoszcz and was met with a frustrated older generation Pole who didn’t even want to attempt to understand what it is I might be asking for or showed no patience for me. The photographer from Gazeta later informed me that she was embarrassed that she wasn’t able to communicate with me, and it struck me... Communication. It’s all about communication.

      Bydgoszcz needs to be able to communicate with one another about what needs to be done in the city if they want people outside of Poland to experience it and first and foremost they need to decide if they want people from the ‘outside’ coming ‘inside’.

      Piotr Kurek said the lead up to Euro2012 is going to be a positive challenge, but it’s vital to see it this way so the city can accelerate and flourish.

      Poland has not been a part of the European Union for a very long time and this football-based opportunity may be what it needs to grow - if that’s what it wants to do.

      Spain has done well in terms of economy and broadening its mentality towards foreigners since being a part of the European Union. Poland is perhaps what Spain was 20 years ago.

      People from the older generation here, in Bydgoszcz, haven’t been able to speak any English and therefore haven’t been able to help me if I’ve needed it during my visit. There is no way to teach everyone English before the arrival of global football fans next year but I  want to highlight that there are simple things that can be implemented to help foreigners here.

      Like I’ve talked about before; sign posts, information boards, better train services, easier and better ways to buy tickets and English translations on menus amongst other things.

      And possibly the not-so-simple things are to open Polish people’s minds to the positivity of encouraging more people to the country.

      In terms of what Poland is to offer it’s very varied; mountains, lakes, nightlife, culture, beaches... so why is it that it remains relatively unexplored and not number one on many peoples ‘must visit’ lists?

      I have had a brilliant time here in Bydgoszcz, truly, and I will be singing its praises when I return to England. But without Misja21 and my journalistic hunger to be involved in this project I wouldn’t have felt compelled to visit. Despite the fact that there are so many Poles living and working in Great Britain.

      These two different mentalities continue to run parallel to one another. Bydgoszcz’s restored buildings represent progression and dedication to better itself and this is apparent in talking to people here. It’s a mix of pride and tradition but also of willingness to grow. You can be very critical of your city - Hotel Brda has been an absolutely fine place to stay and Londynek was a darker part of the city but not the seedy alleyways I was expecting.

      There is a way to embrace all that is traditional, all that is deep-rooted, all that is Polish and still embrace what is new, what is fresh and what could broaden the country and Bydgoszcz. Do you feel ready?

      Bydgoszcz is charming and from reading through the comments on my Misja21 blog posts it seems much loved and evokes fond feelings. It’s important to not lose sight of its charm but to understand that for a tourist it can also be an isolating place matched with an isolating Polish mentality. I honestly believe that this is not a conscious or active way or behaviour.

      I don’t know how to compare my expectations of the city to what I have ultimately experienced because I avoided creating my own perceptions and ideas before my arrival. I think that the amount of people who spoke English matched how many I thought would be able to do so, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that if someone is willing to speak English with you that their grasp of the language exceeded my expectations and their understanding and conversational skills were really good. - Especially at the Tourist Information centre and in pubs and restaurants. Using the transport was far harder than I had imagined however.

      The food here has been absolutely delicious, no complaints there at all. And I’ve certainly become more accustomed to beer - even though it’s only very rarely that I drink it at home. Also, drinking vodka that has a distinctive taste... I’m not so used to this. I’ve found that when it comes to alcohol Polish people like to drink something of definite, substantial taste. The joy is in the drinking element, not necessarily in the getting drunk element.

      Based on stereotypes - unfortunately we’re all guilty of having them - I thought that Polish people were very religious, very family-orientated, very serious and very prideful people.

      I don’t think I was entirely wrong. I now see that although a lot of people attend church services and mass and Corpus Christi is a very much alive celebration it’s not such a taboo subject to ask about my curiosities regarding Catholicism in Poland.

      I haven’t had the opportunity to socialise with Polish families so I can’t comment on what family life is like - which is a shame - but I haven’t heard or seen anything that would lead me to believe that Poles aren’t as I originally believed and are in fact family-orientated. 

      I’ve struck up a rapport with people here, including humour, which I am surprised with. I didn’t expect my sense of humour to cross the cultural barrier and visa versa, but this has not been an issue. And I was so shocked to find out that a Polish couple I have spent time with here is a massive fan of English comedy sketch show ‘Little Britain’!

      My stereotypical views of fashion here is exactly as I thought they would be. In London and in other cities and towns across Great Britain there are so many varying appearances, varying hair styles, and varying trends. In Bydgoszcz the fashion is so similar for everyone, there is no one, or no groups of people, that have stood out from anyone else here in terms of how they dress and how they style their hair. This is as I thought it would be. I think this may be because Polish individuals don’t wish to stand out, or to draw particular attention to themselves. I think this is deep-rooted in their reserved nature.

      Because Poland is a strongly Catholic country this raises questions over sexuality. Is it ok to be gay or lesbian here? After talking to a group of people that live in Bydgoszcz they explained to me that people may tell their close friends and close relatives that they are homosexual but wouldn’t consider behaving openly so in the city. Perhaps in other bigger cities like Warsaw this wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t know if this is solely based on the religious implications or whether as a society being homosexual isn’t as acceptable as in other more liberal or progressive countries.

      Even though I believe that if you visit another country you should respect their ways of life, their views and their protocol unruly football fans might not be as considerate and I think Bydgoszcz might get a surprise if the city is unprepared for the differences in cultures that big events - especially football- inevitably unites together.

      I get the impression from the younger generations of Poles that I’ve encountered is that they’re open to - and even excited about - extending a hand to other countries and welcoming them into the country and into Bydgoszcz. I realise Poland has never made an outward statement that they don’t want tourism or that tourism is a negative thing but as a tourist who has been here for the past week analysing your readiness. I’ve taken away that  you could be, even you wanted to be. Practically speaking the city has to be more easy to use for tourists but on a deeper level it has to be decided that you want to open the gates and you want to be ready. But I don’t think it will be easy to change so much so quickly.

      I will take home fond memories of my time here in Bydgoszcz. I have been lucky to have been put in touch with great people at Gazeta and I have received primarily eager and positive responses from my blogs - and I’m so appreciate of this.

      Thank you for having me, Bydgoszcz.  

       

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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 08:00
  • czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011
    • Don't wear a vest-top to Corpus Christi

      The Feast of Corpus Christi or Boże Ciało is observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday in villages, towns and cities all over Poland. 

       

      In smaller locations it’s not uncommon for the whole village or town to become involved in the organised processions and in Bydgoszcz everything was closed except a couple of restaurants and small shops and people gathered in the market square for the start of the procession.

      People walked along a route through the city to four different altars or temporary shrines and were holding branches. I asked what these were and although she couldn’t explain to me what the plant or tree was she explained they’re for luck and happiness.

      It was a display of robes, uniforms, pretty white dresses and tradition - for me, a non-Catholic. But it was clear it meant a lot more for those participating.

      Before my visit to Poland I had built a stereotype that Polish people are very strong, active and  faithful Catholics, and after spending time here I don’t think I’m wrong in that perception.

      Catholicism is the religion of this country and attending services is a major part of life for a lot of Polish people and families. Before arriving in Poland I saw the subject of religion as a very much taboo subject for conversation, I would have been hesitant to question anyone about their beliefs. I felt I would come under-fire for my own, or be misunderstood to be judgmental or prejudicial. 


      However, after talking to people of younger generations I’m aware this isn’t necessarily the case and that although Catholicism is at the heart of Poland it is not practiced fully and whole-heartedly by everyone - as I initially thought.

      Everyone was quite serious during the procession, apart from the young girls scattering the petals and I definitely received some confused and suspicious stares from the elder participants as I was wearing a vest top. Oops. Evidently not very respectful. Apologies. I felt quite uncomfortable and was aware that I was possibly imposing on something which had great meaning to the people gathered there for the day.

      An event like Corpus Christi wouldn’t be seen in the same way in England at all. There are so many different people practicing different religions and denominations that there would probably be some kind of protest to the dominance and dedication of this time to one particular religion.

      I’m glad I was able to witness something as traditionally Polish as a Catholic ceremony whilst being here.  

       

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 18:06
  • środa, 22 czerwca 2011
    • Things to be taken away...

      In London - and England in general - the green man at the traffic lights means pedestrians can walk across the road, the red man means pedestrians often try and run across the roads.

       

      It’s a very normal occurrence back at home that the people take it upon themselves to judge whether it’s safe to cross the road or not. A brief look left and right and a quick assessment of just how far in the distance the cars are and with little hesitation you hedge your bets and jog across to the other side in the hope your judgements will result in your survival.

      In Bydgoszcz - and apparently on the whole throughout Poland - this simply doesn’t happen. Everyone must adhere to the green man/red man protocol. 

      I was wondering why the roads were clear and yet everyone stopped at the edge of the pavement still waiting for the permission of the green man and the clicks to go.

      I hear you can even get fined if you cross the road prematurely?

      I’ve never encountered this kind of strict adhering to the rules of pedestrian road safety before and definitely think it’s something worth implementing and abiding by in England.

      There are so many accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians on the road and it could be so easily prevented if people were more willing and more conscientious about following the basic rules that are essentially put in place to save lives and limbs.

      Another revelation I’ve had during my time here is pancakes with savoury fillings that I sampled at Manekin.

      I’ve even joked about opening my own Manekin-inspired restaurant back in London...

      In England pancakes are only really known and appreciated as a dessert; with lemon juice and sugar or chocolate and strawberries or ice cream... but never with vegetables, or meat, or garlic sauce.

      I was hesitant to believe that what I would consider a sweet thing like a pancake would taste good with such things, but I stand corrected... and I’d love to have it again in London.

      I haven’t noticed as many striking differences to London and cities in England as I thought I would. There are of course so many differences such as the transport, the language, and the architecture; but not much more alien than another country in Europe. There have been times where London feels like nothing but a memory but I haven’t felt a million miles away from home... 

       

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 19:17
  • wtorek, 21 czerwca 2011
    • Hungry and thirsty in Bydgoszcz...

       

       

      My experience of the pubs in Bydgoszcz have definitely been good... In fact, some of the pubs even remind me of the kind of places I go out to and drink in at home in East London.

       

      Each pub I’ve visited – including Warzelnia Piwa, Kubryk and Prl and London Pub have all had English speaking bar staff. Great for us tourists.

       

      I have only been out on weekdays so can’t comment on how busy or not busy the pubs can get on the weekends but each time I’ve been out drinking the pubs have had a really good atmosphere; good music, interesting décor (some very similar to East End London pubs) and a good selection of alcohol (at very good prices!)

       

      There is not the same decoration or style in every pub and each one offers a different kind of atmosphere… This is a great thing as it provides a sense of  variety and means that depending on what kind of person you are you will probably be able to find a pub that suits you.

       

      To a tourist I would definitely recommend Warzelnia Piwa to get a true taste of Polish beer.

      All 4 unique beers are brewed in-house and you can order sample glasses of them all (my favourite was definitely the dark honey beer).

       

      The barman was able to give me a good explanation, in English, of what the beers were like and it was his suggestion to offer me to taste samples of all four – definitely a good idea. Why have one when you can have four, right?

       

      The pub was big and the copper brewing cylinders were on display – an unusual but great form of decoration. Seating was available outside and inside and sitting outside meant we could enjoy the beer looking out onto the Brda river - an important sight that Bydgoszcz has to offer – this was lovely and would be something even more special on a hot, sunny day.

       

      Back at home in England I drink mainly whiskey and vodka, so it made perfect sense to try the Polish vodka Zubrowka, with apple juice. I really liked it! It seems from my time here, and from getting to know some Polish people, that they like to taste the alcoholic contents of their drink, it’s important for it to have a real taste to it – not just important to get them drunk no matter what the alcohol is like.

       

       

      I enjoyed my Zubrowka and apple juice in Kubryk – there were a lot of younger people there and it was busy even on a Monday night. This would be ideal for tourists as it also offers the opportunity to show off your singing talents – or maybe your lack of singing talents – at Karaoke. (English songs available). This created a lively and fun atmosphere typical of what English tourists would want on a night out. 

       

      I discovered that the non-smoking ban has only been implemented in Poland since January which I found really surprising. But this will not affect tourists as they will definitely be used to these rules, whether they like them or not. 

       

      I have been seriously impressed by the Polish food; the Pierogi, the pancakes at Manekin, the ice cream and meringue at Sowa and Zurek. They have all been delicious! But if tourists don’t feel like sampling traditional Polish food – which I think would be a real shame – there is enough choice of international dishes and cuisine available in Bydgoszcz too.

       

      I had never tried pancakes with anything savoury before so the idea of eating it with mince meat, onions and peppers was very strange – but I tried it anyway, and I very much stand corrected. It was great!



       

      The menus in Manekin weren’t in English which made the choice of  34 savoury filling options and 20 sweet filling options very hard to choose. The only words I could work out were broccoli, olives and asparagus.

       

      The waitress had an ok grasp of English though and tried to help as much as she could to decipher what was on the menu – if not I would have closed my eyes, pointed at an option on the list and hoped for the best, been very lost and ended up ordering something very strange like cottage cheese and chocolate!…. Oh, no, wait… Polish people like that, don’t they?

       

      In general I have found that the staff in restaurants and pubs in Bydgoszcz have been friendly and willing to help when they can. As a tourist this really is an important element for visiting a new country and can make all the difference to an evening out. Also, so far I have not been in a pub or a restaurant that hasn’t had a high standard or cleanliness or attention to it’s decoration, style and atmosphere.

       

      There are plenty of choices for restaurants which really is great and means that you can visit a different place each evening. There’s nothing more boring than going to the same place to eat every single day.

       

      For a couple, or a small group of friends Bydgoszcz offers just enough to have a decent night out and get merrily drunk but I haven’t seen a really lively, buzzing or loud nightlife reminiscent of those in cities in England and I think it is common knowledge that tourists on holiday – especially those who have come to watch and celebrate football – will want those kind of ‘crazier’ nights out. This may not be the sort of crowds that Bydgoszcz wants to attract anyway, but big football events often attract these kinds of people. 

       

       

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      wtorek, 21 czerwca 2011 23:04
  • poniedziałek, 20 czerwca 2011
    • "Hello, um, could you help me?"

       

       

      As a tourist in search of information it doesn’t take a genius to realise I should head to Tourist Information.

       

      After walking around the Old Town and Mill Island yesterday evening I noticed the comforting ‘i’ symbol on a shop front and made a mental note of how to get there... so this morning arrived and there I was (after buying a Gazeta newspaper with pictures of me in it, of course).

       

      The man working in the tourist information centre was extremely helpful, had a great grasp of the English language and was able to answer all of my questions. I cannot explain, as a foreigner to Poland and a first time visitor to the country, how brilliant this was.

       

      I was handed maps and leaflets, given recommendations, and a brief explanation of how to travel by tram.

       

      Considering the unpredictability of the weather I decided to postpone my trip on the water tram until later on this week... but I was determined to test Bydgoszcz’s transport today so my mission was to take the tram to Focus Mall (tourists enjoy shopping, no matter what country they are in!)

       

      I was told that tram tickets were available to buy from tobacco shops... this, I eventually deciphered, meant a kiosk. 

       

      To find the nearest kiosk I had to play the role of your typical ignorant tourist - possibly not the hardest role I’ve had to play - and ask anyone that I saw where I found one to buy a ticket from.

       

      I soon discovered that it’s definitely not recommended to ask people of the older generation if they can help you - in English. English wasn’t taught in schools in previous generations, they favoured Russian or German, so tip #1 for tourists would always be to ask younger people for help or directions as they will understand you better and generally be more willing to help.

       

      At the first kiosk I went to the women behind the window spoke no English (this statement may sound like a broken record now, but it will always be an issue for tourists, unfortunately - no matter what country they are visiting). 

       

      I attempted different ways of trying to explain that I wanted a tram ticket to Focus Mall; pointing at my map, repeating “Focus Mall”, holding out money, trying to point at the small book of tickets on the counter... but I had to walk away, defeated, and find another kiosk.

       

      I got the impression she was embarrassed and apologetic that she couldn’t understand or help me but this came across as frustration and annoyance on her part and I felt a bit distressed by the experience.

       

      I asked someone further down the street where I could find another kiosk and followed her directions... here I was able to buy the ticket that I needed by implementing the same ‘techniques’ I tried earlier - but for some reason they worked this time and I had my tickets to and from Focus Mall!

       

      I watched a man riding on the tram put his ticket in the machine and copied him... this seemed to work and was a quick way to figure out what I had to do.

       

      Trams are so different to buses and underground trains in London - and they were even completely different to other trams I’ve used in Amsterdam, Paris and Bulgaria.

       

      But, it was ok. It wasn’t too busy, it moved relatively quickly and it was a welcome shelter from the rain.

       

      Luckily the Focus Mall was clearly recognisable and stood out - if it was a less noticeable destination I would have definitely struggled to know when I needed to get off the tram (this was a similar situation to the one I encountered when traveling from Warsaw station to Bydgoszcz Główna station).

       

      The mall had a great selection of shops, cafes and fast-food restaurants. |t was modern, clean and impressively big. It was nice to see familiar names such as H&M, Zara, Costa Coffee and KFC etc. - Even the most established travelers like some home comforts, and your average tourist certainly does.

       

      In each shop I visited there was at least one member of staff could communicate with me pretty well. I made it my mission to ask average tourist questions such as where the toilets are, where I can get the tram from nearby to central Bydgoszcz and what time the mall closes etc. I knew most of the answers but for research purposes I think it was important to ask them.

       

      The area surrounding the mall was a bit of a neglected space and appeared to be more of a place you’d pass through and not to.

       

      Travelling by tram today wasn’t IMPOSSIBLE, but it was certainly far from simple, but the tourist information centre certainly has a thumbs up from me! 

       

       

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      poniedziałek, 20 czerwca 2011 18:22
  • niedziela, 19 czerwca 2011
    • A taste of Bydgoszcz...

      It took me a little while to realise where I was when I woke up this morning, but it’s always comforting to know you’ve woken up in the same place you’ve fallen asleep, right?

       

      I met with two of Gazeta’s local journalists and their photojournalist before heading out into Bydgoszcz.

      As I was strolling through the streets I noticed a number of different things - some that conflict one another. 

      On one hand a lot of the architecture is very beautiful with a very Austrian and German style, they’re very striking and ornate - especially the large, red building near Hotel Brda that I have been informed is a Doctor’s surgery. 

      However, although there are many gorgeous buildings there are a lot of neglected ones and I was able to see this clearly today, as it’s a Sunday and not many places are open so the streets weren’t very busy.

      There’s evidently a lot of time, care and interest taken in the Old Town and Mill Island but less invested in the streets surrounding these areas. Not every city is perfect, of course, but with such a lovely market square, the Brda river and the areas directly surrounding it really highlights where a lot of streets, buildings and shop fronts have been neglected.

      I’ve noticed a lot of graffiti in Poland, especially on my train journey from Warsaw to Bydgoszcz Główna. I am a fan of graffiti as an art-form when it’s done properly and expresses some real talent but the odd ‘tag’ or word spray-painted here and there on buildings can unfortunately change the appearance of an area.

      In fact just before I left England there was an article about Adam Klodzinski, aka ‘Soap’, who is originally from Poland but is bringing his talents to the forefront in Bournemouth, South England and some other places around the UK.

      On graffiti news website http://www.graffiti-grafiti-grafitti.co.uk it says:

      “Graffiti in Poland spoils otherwise beautiful old town centres. Countries like Poland do not necessarily have the resources to deal wit the problem. Much more public education is required for people to get together and commit to keeping their home town beautiful.”

      Most places were closed today - being a Sunday - but the Old Town and Mill Island was alive with stalls, people, and more unusually people rowing around on canoes made from plastic bottles and cling-film!

      It’s an annual event where teams race down the river in the aforementioned ‘canoes’ and it was great to see, it brought lots of people of Bydgoszcz out and together on the island - even in the rain and it was a brilliant atmosphere.

      My first day in Bydgoszcz wouldn’t be complete without my first taste of Polish cuisine and Polish beer. I tried Pierogi for the first time today (with chicken, spinach and cheese) and it was delicious! I also tried some Zurek and sampled some Kielbasa at the market, and they were equally delicious.

      Although Tyskie beer or “Piwo” is available in England I’ve never tried it before and I hear it’s a very typical Polish beer so - for journalistic purposes of course - I tried the beer too. Nostrovia!

      The menu had English translations underneath each dish which was invaluably helpful otherwise I would have absolutely no idea what it was that I was ordering, and the waitress seemed to speak and understand some English. I hope this is a sign of things to come in Bydgoszcz.

      Pierogi = yum, Kielbasa = yum, Tyskie Piwo = yum. Me = fat. 

       

      Kimberley x

       

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      niedziela, 19 czerwca 2011 18:02
  • sobota, 18 czerwca 2011
    • From London to Warsaw to Bydgoszcz...

      It seems like it has been forever in the planning.... but now I’m finally here - in Poland, and more precisely in Bydgoszcz.

      Unfortunately the journey didn’t start too well; the queues in Warsaw station were really long and I had to wait a really long time for the next train to Bydgoszcz as they aren’t very frequent. I think for a large influx of tourists for the Euro2012 this will prove to be quite a problem... especially as it’s very likely they’ll be arriving in big groups.

      No one spoke English in the ticket offices which is quite daunting to a visitor... luckily - by saying the name of my destination, politely pointing at my watch and looking confused - I was able to get my ticket and the lady at the ticket office kindly wrote down the time of the train’s departure and its arrival at Bydgoszcz.

      There are a lot of reconstruction works going on at Warsaw railway station currently... I imagine that the aim is to get them completed before the lead up to the Euro2012 begins as this could prove really disruptive if it’s not finished and it would be a shame for this to be many tourists’ first impressions of the capital.

      I was really impressed with the shopping centre next to Warsaw station... it’s so modern, has so many different shops, a supermarket.... everything you need really. I made a much needed stop to buy some bread, cheese and water (going back to basics). 

      Riding for four hours across Poland gave me a great chance to see what the landscape is like, I was stunned to see that it was exactly as I thought it would be.... there’s a lot of green and a lot of open land with the odd house here and there, neglected buildings and outhouses, and a lot of stations from Warsaw to Bydgoszcz seemed a little run down and unloved. 

      The thing that proved to be the biggest struggle on my train journey was that there were no announcements detailing what stations the train would be stopping at next, or indeed what station we were at. For someone visiting a new country this can cause quite a panic! I jumped up several times and grabbed my suitcase thinking that Bydgoszcz Główna was the next stop and it could have been very easy for me to miss it without realising. 

      The staff at my hotel are great; good English and really helpful and welcoming... and after waking up at 2.30am this morning a smiling face behind the lobby desk is exactly what I needed to see.

      All in all it has been a long day with mixed impressions. If it’s important for readers to know my impressions on a particular part of Poland that I’ve experienced today then please do let me know.

      For now sleep is beckoning and tomorrow will inevitably present a whole new set of challenges, experiences and opinions...

      Goodnight, Bydgoszcz!

      Kimberley x

      @kimmybojangles

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      sobota, 18 czerwca 2011 23:06

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