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.

Toruń - Gabriella Olsson

  • sobota, 25 czerwca 2011
  • piątek, 24 czerwca 2011
    • My revision of your list of Torun

      Here are my opinions of the places you readers considered to be Torun's best, and worst, attractions.

      Your suggestions of places I should visit:

      Top 5

      Muzeum Piernika An interactive and well-maintained museum with acting guides who speak English very well. A fun experience for people of all ages; you learn the history behind the famous torunskie pierniki, bake your own gingerbread cookie (you get to take it home with you as a souvenir), and after the tour is over you can sit down in the café or buy chocolate-covered, or rose-hip filled, gingerbread from the gift shop.  

      Maciej, my shadow, mixing the secret gingerbread ingredients

      Rynek Staromiejski noca The Old Town Market is one of my absolute favourite places in Torun: it is vibrant and people-packed during anytime of the day as the square serves as a natural meeting-point with its many outdoor restaurants and cafés. And having a glass of wine, or a pint of beer, at nighttime in the Old Town Market gives you the square at its best with the beautiful Town Hall illuminated in the dark. 

      Muzeum Etnograficzne I really think I could have loved this museum - as I’m interested in exploring other countries’ people’s way of living - but unfortunately there was very little information in English and so I didn’t understand most of what the things in the exhibition were all about. However, I would recommend tourists to visit the museum as it displays an extensive collection of old Polish household items, and the beautiful outdoor area - with a mill and lots of typical old wooden Polish houses - is a great feature.

      Breakfast (almost) in bed

      Planetarium I obserwatorium astronomiczne W Piwnicach pod Toruniem For families with young kids the Planetarium is a must: the interactive Orbitarium is fun and knowledge-thirsty kids will learn a lot from trying out things at the many stations.

      Koscioly na Starowce Although I’m not religious – if you’re a Swedish Protestant you’re most likely non-religious – I enjoy visiting churches as they instantly overflow you with serenity. Also, Catholic churches are way more beautiful and grand than their Protestant counterparts. My favourite church in Old Town is Virgin Mary: incredibly majestic with beautifully painted ceilings and an impressively ornamented altar.

      Virgin Mary

      And the places I should avoid were:

      Bottom 5

      Dworzec Glowny It’s a shame that the first thing tourists see when they arrive in Torun by train is the poorly maintained train station. There’s an eerie atmosphere around it and the place feels desolated although it’s located only a short ride away from the city centre.  Torun is such a beautiful city, which is why the station could use some refurbishment to give tourists a more visually beautiful welcome. However, the station looks much more well-kept than many of its Polish counterparts.

      Basen przy ul. Basynskich I couldn’t explore the pool as it was closed for refurbishment. However, I did go there.. The building is in bad condition – it almost looks abandoned with its dirty windows, rusty walls and terribly dark reception room hall. I asked the receptionist if it was ok for me to take some pictures of the pool although it was closed – no one was refurbishing at that moment – and all I got was a rude and arrogant “No”.

      The dirty pool

      Muzeum Okgregowe Muzeum Okregowe [meaning regional museum] is an institution; in Torun it comprises five museums spread across Torun’s Old Town. The Town Hall – the symbol of the city’s heydays – museum and the Nicolaus Copernicus museum – located in the building said to be Copernicus’ birthplace – are two of them. The museums are perfect for historically interested tourists, but offer little interaction. Tourists should pay a visit to Old Town’s tower to get a birds-eye view of the medieval rooftops and buildings in the city core. However, I would recommend families with kids to instead visit the Planetarium or the gingerbread museum.

      Most drogowy An ordinary boring road bridge that has seen its better days. Adds nothing the beauty of the scenic city located on the Vistula river. However, tourist should walk across one of the two bridges to see Torun’s panorama.

      Autobusy I tramwaje Well, they’re not the most modern and clean but from my experiences they’ve been on time and have (with the help of fellow passengers showing me what to do with my ticket) transported me without hassle. Also, the distances within Torun are never long and so regardless of where you’re going you won’t have to spend much time on a bus or a tram.

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 10:17
    • A religious walk around Torun

      Walking towards Old Town this morning I heard church bells ringing in the distance, accentuating today’s religious highlight: Corpus Christi. Up until last week I had never heard of the event: a Catholic tradition, dating several hundred years back, celebrating the Body of Christ consecrated in the Mass (thanks Wikipedia).

      The procession's priest dressed in a yellow robe

      As a Protestant from Sweden – one of the most secular countries in the world – religion plays a very small part in my life. Prior to today the only religion-related events I had attended were funerals, weddings and christenings. Thus, I had no clue of what would await me at St John’s Cathedral – the procession’s starting-point.

      Huge crowds of people

      Hundreds of neatly dressed people from all ages – very few teenagers though – had gathered in the streets to watch nuns, Torun’s mayor, the priest and his white-robed companions walk around town to commemorate Jesus’ body. Leading the way were young girls in white embroidered dresses who scattered colourful petals across the streets.

      Flower girls with petal-filled baskets

      As the procession continued, hundreds of followers turned into thousands and suddenly it felt as if every person living in Torun had joined in the religious feast. As people around me started to kneel I panicked as I wasn’t sure of what to do; was I, a non-religious protestant, allowed to kneel or would it be seen as an insult to the actual religious people? What if someone discovered that I wasn’t a Catholic? (I kneeled as I feared the alternative would be even more of an insult). 

      After the priest had said his prayers at the different stations set up for today’s procession, people went berserk and hurried to rip off sticks from the blessed branches temporarily planted around the altars. What once had been prosperous birch branches were stripped down to skeletons of sticks.

      Starting to undress the branches..

      Two minutes later.

      After two hours of procession walking I reckoned I had got as much as I possible could get out of the experience, and decided to break out from the following of people who still attentively listened to the singing of hymns (all of which started to sound very similar).

      Although I didn’t understand a word of what was said or sung, I realised that religion still plays an important part in today’s Poland. In Sweden people only join in the streets to celebrate the success of sports teams. I’m amazed at the large number of people who today gathered to take part in this old Catholic tradition.

      I don’t advocate religiousness as I’ve seen how it can transform people into dummies, and lately I have got angered at the mention of religion as it is the culprit behind many of the tensions spread across the globe. Today, however, I experienced one of the positive sides to religion: the power it has to bring together people of different backgrounds.

      Well, I guess I’ll have to wait a year before I'll be able to take part in Swedish street celebrations: the celebrations of Sweden winning Euro 2012 that is.

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 00:15
  • czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011
    • Room for improvement

      Torun is situated by the Vistula: Poland’s most important river and one of the longest in Europe. Although the Vistula isn’t located in Old Town (which in 1997 was made a UNESCO world heritage site), like most of Torun’s attractions, it flows just outside the medieval city wall. 

      The overgrown paving stones

      A city situated near water – be it a river, the sea, a lake – should consider itself lucky as water has the advantage of contributing to creating a beautiful scenery as well as serving therapeutic: sit by the water and watch it flow – you’ll understand what I mean.

      With the Vistula right next to the beautiful city core, Torun is a picturesque city without having to do anything. However, I believe the river walk isn’t anywhere near its full potential. Weed the grass between the paving stones or, even better, replace them with a nicer brick way.


      Open more restaurants and cafés along the river – there are only two at the moment – to help create the lively atmosphere present around the Old and New Town markets. If you cross the bridge to the other side facing Old Town, the city’s beautiful panorama appears.

      The city's beautiful panorama

      The river walk is like a football player, or speedway rider, who doesn’t embrace his talent and thus misses out on his full potential.

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 12:43
  • środa, 22 czerwca 2011
    • Torun - please export market stalls to Helsingborg

      My hometown Helsingborg is Sweden’s eight biggest city with a population of around 130,000 people. It might not be a big in comparison with other countries' largest cities, but there are enough inhabitants to help avoid the streets of Helsingborg being eerily empty. However, as the mall located ten minutes (by car) outside of the city is getting extended (from 100 to 200 stores) more and more shops in the city centre have to close down their businesses. 

      It’s a city centre with old and pretty buildings, cobblestone streets and a beautiful harbour and boardwalk. In front of the newest and most modern museum in town, Dunkers, is a large square: Sundstorget (the square of the strait). This square is eerily empty. If market stalls were allowed in the square, people would come here thus creating a more vibrant atmosphere that possibly could prevent some of the shoppers of emigrating to malls. 

      Sundstorget - a lively square indeed.. (Image courtesy of dahlstroms.com)

      Walking around Torun it’s obvious that this town has come much further than Helsingborg in creating and maintaining a lively city core. 

      The Old Market - Torun's main tourist attraction - with its many surrounding outdoor restaurants and cut flower stalls along with the New Town market - a main square in the old craftsmen's part of town - with its extensive selection of stalls offering everything from jewellery, Polish sausages to chocolate-covered fruit and woodworks, keep the city alive. 

      A New Town Market stallholder selling pucokiz grilla

      One of the restaurants in the Old Market square

      Helsingborg has much to learn, and should draw inspiration from Torun's markets and how they create a cosy, vibrant atmosphere that's impossible for malls to copy. The paving-brick squares bring the city alive. Please Helsingborg - follow suit. 

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 18:22
    • A Torun phenomenon?


      '

      Bank BPH; Santander; Citibank; Allianz Bank; Polbank EFG; eurobank; Alior bank; Multibank; Pocztowy Bank.. Is there a reason for why there are so many different branches of banks in Torun? 

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 16:47
    • Lack of translation

      Time waits for no man (or woman). After my visit at the Planetarium I took a short walk only to arrive at the next attraction on Tuesday’s touristy agenda: Torun’s Ethnographic Museum. 

      I begin to believe that many of the Poles who work at information desks or at ticket boots know about ten sentences in English period. “I would like to buy tickets for the exhibition,” gives one of the ten basic sentences: “Ok, how many?” I’m not going to give any more alternatives – as I have no clue of what they are – but the longer the conversation goes, the fewer the replies.

      The woman at the Ethnographic Museum’s ticket desk followed what I said as long it concerned the actual ticket purchase. “Do you get a lot of international tourists here during summer?” I asked. Her reply: a blank stare followed by asking Maciej what I had just said.

      Lots of information - no translation

      For the indoor exhibition – spread across two floors – I got a leaflet the size of an a4-paper. The purpose of this leaflet was to give me an overview of what the exhibition covers. I’m sure the museum is interesting for Polish-speaking people, but it wasn’t for me. Why? The exhibited items were of good quality and the museum itself is fresh and airy. However, walking around looking at items you don’t know what they are pretty much destroys the experience.


      An old milk dispenser? A hookah?

      What is that wooden thing hanging on the wall? Why is there an infant wearing a diaper on the TV? How is the year I can decipher relevant to the text I don’t understand?

      The second floor displayed swimwear fashion worn decades back and there were lots of pictures of Poles basking in the sun on the Polish Riviera. I got by just fine without English translations at this part of the exhibition as there was less text and more pictures: ”A picture says a thousand words”. Well, I just contradicted myself..


      Exchanged roles

      The well-maintained beautiful outside-area with lots of wooden houses painted a picture of how Poles used to live. I really enjoyed walking around among the mills and the sparsely decorated thatched-roof houses. Still, the museum really needs to invest in making the exhibitions more available to English-speaking visitors to attract the international audience.

      An old mill

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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 01:33

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