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.

Łódź - Kamilla Nyegaard-Larsen

  • sobota, 25 czerwca 2011
    • My lists of things to see, and not see, in Lodz

      I summed up my visits to the five places the people of Lodz did not want me to see yesterday.

      Here is my revised list for over things not to see in Lodz.

      Chinatown: I was imagining a place with lanterns and lots of food, but Chinatown in Lodz is nothing like that. There isn't much there to see, or eat for that matter.

      Chinatown

      Fabryczna train station: A bit hard to avoid, but nevertheless not a pretty place. Like I have said before; it's just a roof. I'm afraid I don't have a photo of the station. The people of Lodz told me to get out of there as quickly as I could, so I did not take the time to take a photo.

      The former Juventus shopping centre: Neglected by the city, it is a place of dirt and darkness. But on the other hand, all it needs is a little attention, some light and some shops, and it would be good as new again.

      Juventus

      Legionów Street: Simply because there isn't much here, it's quite a deserted street.

      Legionow

      Parking lot on Zachodnia Street: Only on this list because it has potential to be a much nicer parking lot than it is now.

      Parkinglot

      And now, my list of top five things you must visit when you're in Lodz.

      The Textile Museum: A precious place where you can see and experience the history and heritage of Lodz. It is an absolute must!

      Textile Museum

      Manufaktura: Representing all the things Lodz is heading for in the future, it is an organic and lively place where you can do absolutely everything, from shopping to eating to going to the cinema.

      Manufaktura

      Ksiezy Mlyn: Another place where you can see a bit of Lodz's history. Plus, it has that magical, calm feel.

      Mlyn

      Piotrkowska Street: An obvious choice, but the street is definitely worth a visit. It has hundreds of restaurants and shops, and the buildings are beautiful.

      Piotrkowska

      The Jewish cemetery: On the outskirts of the centre of Lodz you'll find a huge Jewish cemetery. This is where the Jewish victims of the Second World War is buried. A place that has a sad, but divine feel over it. 

      Cemetery1

      Cemetery2

      So that's it, that's my lists of things to do and not do in Lodz.

      When it comes to the oh-so important question, and also the goal of this mission - is Lodz ready to host the tourists of the EURO 2012 - my answer is yes. But the people of Lodz have to believe that it's true.

      Before I got here I had many people from Lodz commenting on my blog saying that Lodz is a horrible, grey and dirty place, and that I shouldn't come here at all. 

      I have now been here for a week, and Lodz has definitely won my heart. So I would like to tell all the negative thinkers out there to believe in their city, and all the great things it is. Because Lodz is worth a visit, and tourists will come here to experience this city for themselves next summer. That is just the way is it :)

      - Kamilla

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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 00:33
  • piątek, 24 czerwca 2011
    • Partying in Lodz

      After almost a week in Lodz I have seen a bit of everything. This also includes night life, of course.

      My first night here, last Saturday, I went to a bar called Owoce i Warzywa with Maciek. I had one of the best Mojitos I have had in a while, and the laid-back atmosphere and random furniture made the bar feel like home. And it sort of has been home while I have been in Lodz, as I have been there more than once.

      Mojito
      Since yesterday was a holiday here, I spent Wednesday night with fellow journalists and English teachers in a place the young people of Lodz call "the wall". It is a place where young people hang out and drink, be it vodka or beer, together. 

      The Wall

      The place has a unique feel, as people from all kinds of jobs, areas and religions come together to drink and have a chat. I learned a few things while I was there, such as Poland not being as Catholic as it is made out to be, as the younger generations don't think of themselves as strict Catholics. Someone also told me that "the wall" is a place where different people come together to discuss the future of Lodz. How much sense such ideas make the day after I don't know, but at least people care about their city.

      While I was there I was taught how to drink the proper Polish way: one sip of vodka and then one sip if your mixer, preferably Coca Cola. This is also the first, and only, place I was recognised

      We left "the wall" around midnight to go to a club called Baghdad. There was an elektro festival there that night, and I got to experience my first live elektro concert. It was very interesting! 

      Elektro

      There is a new club opening here in Lodz tonight, and since it is my last night we're all going there. I can't wait, as I have never been to the opening of a club before!

      As far as I'm concerned, Lodz is a great place to party, and I think the city should aim to show the tourists of EURO 2012 the Lodzski night life next summer!

      - Kamilla

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 14:48
  • czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011
    • Dark and grey Lodzventures

      Yesterday was a new day of big contrasts in Lodz. 

      In the morning we set out for a walk along the grey and run-down Wschodnia, Pomorska, Rewolucji 1905 and Wlokiennicza Streets, number three on the list of what not to see in Lodz. I have got so used to Legionów Street that I no longer think about the dog droppings, the broken windows and the bumpy pavement. Seeing Wschodnia, Pomorska, Rewolucji 1905 and Wlokiennicza streets yesterday made me think about greyness again.

      The facades of the buildings were crumbling, balconies had fallen off the walls, some buildings were missing all its windows and doors were bolted shut, and I could see big graffiti reading "F*** the police" or "F*** you all" in many places.

      Run-down building

      No windows left

      Walking in Lodz, I'm constantly taken back to a point I have written about before: the contrasts. Even though these streets are run-down and dirty, some of the buildings have been restored or painted so that they look as beautiful as they all are under the crumbling facades. 

      Contrasts

      Heavy contrasts

      But if you take a closer look at the tired facades, you can see absolutely beautiful details, which made me think that all these streets need is a sander and some paint. I know, it is not that easy, but maybe it is not as complicated as people think?

      Details, facade

      Beautiful details under the crumbling facade

      From Wlokiennicza Street we headed towards the ruins of Zachodnia Street, yet another place the people of Lodz have advised me not to see. When we got there it struck me how big this open space was. 

      The people of Lodz have described it as an empty "hole in the ground", which is exactly what it is. And, as it is with all holes in the ground, this one is not very aesthetically pleasing. What they have done with it, however, is turning it in to a parking lot.

      Parkinglot

      Good use of "hole in the ground"

      I think this is constructive use of space. I mean, a city will always need more places for people to park their cars, and turning this hole in the ground into something useful is a positive thing. It would have been a lot worse if the hole would just be a hole, and nothing else.

      The fifth thing on the list of things not to see in Lodz is the former Juventus shopping centre. It is situated quite close to the Wyborcza office, and is a big concrete building with many corridors and stairs.

      Today, the building is used by a few gyms, and as we walked through I could see some builders working in some of the empty rooms - a sign of revival, maybe? Because that is the biggest problem with the Juventus building - it's empty. 

      Club, Juventus

      Closed down club

      It used to have a few clubs in them, but they have closed down now. I said to Maciek that "this is an all right place, but I would not walk there on my own at night because of all the dark corridors". 

      Empty corridor

      Empty and dirty corridor

      I don't think the Juventus building is beyond help. With a bit of light, some paint and a few new shops the Juventus shopping centre could be restored to its old glory. It is all about working with what you have got, right?

      Summing up my impressions after seeing the five things people would prefer I didn't see here in Lodz leads me back to that one, oh-so describing word: contrasts. If you want to, there's a video of me summing up the "bad sights" of Lodz here.

      Lodz Fabryczna and Chinatown were not the prettiest of places, but it could have been a lot worse. The pigeons in Chinatown could have been dead and rotten, and the train station could have only a partial roof and no shops at all.

      The streets of Wschodnia, Pomorska, Rewolucji 1905 and Wlokiennicza could have had only broken and torn down buildings, but instead it has a few very nice ones, and a lot that has major potential to become beautiful.

      The parking lot on the ruins of Zachodnia Street could just be a hole in the ground, and the Juventus building could have fallen apart. But none of those things are a fact.

      Lodz, you have shown me your worst sides, and I don't think it is as bad as you might think. :)

      - Kamilla

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 17:20
    • Biala Fabryka - the heritage of Lodz

      Although yesterday started with greyness it would soon turn into magical bliss.

      After seeing some rough sights of Lodz we headed off to Biala Fabryka (The White Factory), also referred to as the Textile Museum. 

      After buying tickets from a lady that did not speak a word of English, we headed into the machine hall. This is where all the old textile machines are on display. Sometimes the museum staff turn all the machines on at the same time so that the visitors can feel what it was like to work in a textile factory back when Lodz was the centre of textiles in Poland. Unfortunately they did not do that yesterday, as Maciek and I were the only visitors.

      Machine Hall, Biala Fabryka

      The machine hall

      After looking at all the different machines (and discovering that a few of them were imported from England) we climbed some stairs and found two rooms covering fashion over the years. Maciek told me that Lodz used to be the centre of fashion in the 1920s and 1930s, which I found very interesting and surprising. 

      When we finished the fashion bit of the museum I thought we had seen all there was to see, and I was a bit disappointed. But as we were headed for the door a lady came running after us. I explained that I did not understand Polish, and she started walking up the stairs, indicating that we should follow. What waited upstairs was truly amazing.

      There were two more floors with two rooms in each. The first room contained embroideries of old and famous paintings. The second room had traditional Polish blankets and other textiles on display. The third room had modern art embroideries with lots of colour and some abstract art. The fourth room, my favourite room, contained modern materialistic art, with trees, jeans and shoes, all made from textiles.

      Textile shoes

      Shoes made from textile

      As we were walking through all these rooms we could see small wooden houses outside. As soon as we had finished looking at the textile art we hurried out to see what was in the small houses. 

      The houses were remakes of how people lived back in the day when Lodz was the textile centre of Poland. It showed kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms, all decorated with blankets, curtains and towels from that time. It was magnificent.

      Wooden houses

      Maciek walking among small wooden houses

      The Textile Museum is definitely my favourite place in Lodz. The people of Lodz voted Manufaktura as the ultimate tourist attraction here, and I agree that it is a great place, but Biala Fabryka has something magical about it.

      It covers every aspect of the textile industry here in Lodz, from machinery to fashion to living, and it offers an important insight into the heritage of this city. It shows where the people of Lodz come from, and it is an important piece of history that must not be forgotten in this age of modernisation.

      - Kamilla

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 17:10
    • Corpus Christi in Lodz

      The morning started at 11am, when the church bells rang all over Lodz. Out of the St. Stanislaw Kotska cathedral came women, men, children and the people of the church; nuns, altar boys and priests. As the bishop of Lodz came out of the cathedral the whole group of people on in the churchyard kneeled.

      The parade started to take form in the middle of Piotrkowska Street, and police cars were blocking all the side roads so no cars could disturb the religious procession. 

      Corpus Christi Lodz

      A bit windy at the start of the procession, but nevertheless; a beautiful sight

      Two boys carrying speakers on their back joined the sea of people that joined in as the procession started walking. The speakers were playing a single man's voice singing hymns, and the people soon started singing as well. You can see a short video of that here.

      Corpus Christi Lodz, children

      The children's procession - not everyone found it as interesting as me! :)

      After walking for a few blocks, the procession stopped, and it was time to sing and pray. Some people fell to their knees, while others bowed their head in prayer. And that's when it hit me: there were barely a young adult in sight. It was like a whole generation was missing. The people between 20 and 30 were nowhere to be found.

      Then I remembered what came up in conversation the night before. We were at a very popular party place in Lodz, and someone was asking me what I was doing the next day when everything would be closed. I said that I was going to see the Corpus Christi procession, and at least three people sighed and shook their heads.

      "Why are you going to see that? It's just a bunch of people walking," said one of them. I was baffled, as I have been told that in Poland, 90 per cent of the population is catholic. As I told them what I had heard, they told me that the number does not say anything about what life is like in Poland.

      They told me they thought of themselves as Catholics, but mostly because they had grown up with it and been taught it in school. Most of them were not practising any religion at all. 

      This explains why there were almost no young adults participating in today's celebrations, but it has left me wondering if it is a good or a bad thing, both for the people of Poland, and for Poland as a country.

      - Kamilla

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 16:12
  • środa, 22 czerwca 2011
    • What Norway should learn from Poland

      There are many things we can learn from Poland, and I'm going to tell you about two of those things here on the blog.

      The first is something that came as a pleasant surprise to me: public wireless internet.

      In Oslo you can get Wi-Fi in some places, like Hard Rock Café or T.G.I Fridays, but in most places the networks are closed, and they will not let you have the password. "It's our private network, and we don't want just anyone using it," they say. And that's as close as you get to most networks!

      But in Lodz it's a completely different story. Every time I go to Piotrkowska Street, a restaurant, a bar, a museum - you name it, there's public Wi-Fi there for me to connect to. 

      If the network is closed and you need a password to connect to it? They will give you the password. Is the password not working? They will spell the password out for you, to make sure you got it right the first time. And if that doesn't work either, they will restart the router for you.

      There is definitely a lesson there for Norway to learn!

      The other thing Norway and Norwegians need to learn from Poland and Poles is to relax a little.

      Norwegians are a bit strange. We won't sit next to each other on the bus and we definitely will not speak to someone we don't know. Norwegians keep to themselves and solve their problems on their own, even though they may be in way over their heads and could use some help. 

      In Poland people sit next to each other on the bus and they speak to each other although they don't know each other (hey, they even speak to me!). They will not hesitate to ask for help either, whatever it may be. A woman asked me for something I think was directions the other day. I had to excuse myself and say that I did not speak Polish, and when I did she just asked the person behind me. Easy as that!

      So this goes out to every Polish person that ever goes to Norway - try to loosen us up a bit! ;) And, to the Norwegian restaurants that won't give their guests the Wi-Fi password - give over and realise how far the world has come.

      - Kamilla

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 18:45
    • Testing the stereotypes

      After five days in Poland it is time to test the stereotypes I heard about before I came to Lodz. I'm not much of a stereotyper myself, so if I have misunderstood any of them, please forgive me for that :)

      Firstly, let's look at the football hooligans of Poland, since the EURO 2012 is happening in just under a year. Will this cause problems when the tournament kicks off?

      If I have understood it right, it varies from city to city how bad the hooligans are. Before I came to Lodz I had not heard anything specific hooligans here, but when I got here I could not help but wonder if it was a problem in Lodz. Everywhere I went I saw graffiti on the walls, and there are only two varieties: LKS and Widzew, the two biggest football teams in Lodz.

      Curious, I asked my shadow if the city has a lot of hooligans. He told me that sometimes a few from each of the team's supporter club meet up and fight each other, but that is doesn't happen often. "It is more a war on the walls", he said. 

      Comparing this information with the situation in Oslo and the football teams we have there, it is more or less the same picture that is painted. Also, while I have been in Lodz I have not seen anyone fight, not hooligans or other people. So all in all, I think the stereotype of Polish football hooligans making trouble for others is not valid here in Lodz.

      The next stereotype I've decided to look at is the stereotype of Polish people not speaking English. This is an interesting topic, especially since Lodz is not too used to tourism.

      While I have been in Lodz I have met Poles who speak English, and Poles who do not speak English. Most of the people that work in services, like waiters or people working in hotels, speak English very well. On the other hand, people that work on the trams or drive taxis don't speak English. It also seems that the younger generations speak English, while the older generations don't.

      But, as it is with everything in this world, there is always something, or in this case, someone who surprises you. I told you about the man who sold sausages yesterday. He, a man in his 60s, spoke English. On the other hand, I have met young waitresses who don't speak English. So the picture is always more complicated than the stereotype.

      So the conclusion reads: Some people speak English, some people don't. And that executes the stereotype, doesn't it?

      The last stereotype is the one I thought of the most before I came to Lodz: the Polish people are a very closed and private people, who might come off as a bit unfriendly. 

      On the one hand I have met so many warm and open-minded Poles - women, boys, old men and young ladies - that have always been willing to help a foreigner out. On the other hand, for example when all the staff in a restaurant refuse to speak to you because you don't speak Polish, or in regards to the comments on the different Wyborcza websites, some Poles come off as rude and would rather not have any "outsiders" in their country.

      Luckily, the nice and welcoming Poles are stronger in numbers, so they outweigh all the other Poles who are not so welcoming, and I can conclude this post by saying that Poland is an open, warm and welcoming country.

      Of course there are some bad sides to Poland, but every country has both good and bad sides. I think it is important that we don't let stereotypes steer the way we chose to explore a new country, because if we do, we might miss out on things that are worth seeing and experiencing.

      - Kamilla

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 17:28

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