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.

Zielona Góra - Lis Evenstad

  • sobota, 25 czerwca 2011
    • Goodbye Zielona Gora

       

      

      My bags are packed and I’m about to visit the train station in Zielona Gora for the last time this week. (I won’t say forever, because I know I’ll be back).

       It’s with sadness and great memories that l leave this city. I have become so fond of the people here and I am so proud to have been able to experience Zielona Gora and all it has to offer.

       As I said my goodbyes last night, I found myself rather upset with the thought of leaving the city.

       Sometimes it has been a battle between languages, sometimes it has been an adventure, but most of all it has been nothing but a wonderful experience.

       I am so thankful for Ala, Ada, Kacper , Rafal, Pulpet and everyone else from the Lubuski Traditional Dance Ensemble for showing me that tradition is still important to youths.

       I am greatful for my amazing shadows, Lukasz and Kosma for always being there for me. Even though they weren’t very helpful when it came to finding out what bus to take or what ticket to buy, they were my safety blankets in a foreign city.

       Thank you Agata for always smiling and teaching me how to dance. Thank you Paulina for being my bitch, partner in crime and friend. Thank you Sebastian for all the great/terrible photos and for all the fun we’ve had.

       To the people of Pomorskie: You have showed me (and probably the rest of Zielona Gora) that Pomorskie is a welcoming community and nothing to be afraid of.

       To everyone at Gazeta Wyborcza Zielona Gora, Thank you for welcoming me with open arms.

       Finally, a big hug to everyone I have forgotten to mention. Everyone who has helped me, smiled at me and guided me around the city: I am forever grateful.

       

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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 08:02
  • piątek, 24 czerwca 2011
    • A hidden tourist treasure

      My stay in Zielona Gora is coming to an end, and I am relucantly packing my bags before going for my last night out in town.  I have experienced the best and the worst the city has to offer and I am so grateful for everyone who has helped make my stay eventful.

      My mission here has been to see how prepared Zielona Gora is to tackle the hustle and bustle of the Euro 2012 tourists. It seems people here don’t think Euro 2012 will affect them at all because “no one comes to Zielona Gora.” Let me tell you this: This city is a hidden tourist treasure. True, it might not be the place for those wanting a city-holiday, but for those interested in relaxing in beautiful surroundings, its prefect. If the region and the city do more to promote tourism, I can picture hordes of tourists flooding to Zielona Gora and its nearby areas, not just as a stopping point on the way from Berlin to Warsaw, but merely because of what the city has to offer.

       My goal was to make a list of the best tourist attractions in Zielona Gora. My result turned out slightly different. The last two items on the list are my definite favourites, but as they don’t necessarily fall under the category of tourist attractions, they can’t be included in the top five.

       This makes Zielona Gora attractive: 

       

      1.The Old Town.


      Walking around old town is a peaceful and calming experience. Picturesque streets and houses make for beautiful scenery as you enjoy a coffee or a beer in one of the many cafes and bars. I could spend ages just walking around or sitting on a bench watching life go by. Definitely my ultimate favourite place in Zielona Gora.

       2. Ethnographic museum in Ochla


      Although the lack of English speaking staff and information put a slight damper on my trip to Ochla, it’s definitely worth a visit. Friendly and welcoming staff combined with a museum of great historical value makes it a must-see. It almost doesn’t matter that the staff don’t speak English because there is so much to see here.

       3. Łagów Lake


      The village and the lake combined is a paradise for anyone wanting to relax on a hot summer day. I rented a paddleboat and explored the lake, which was amazing. The view is breathtaking and if you like to explore, you can take a walk in the woods surrounding the lake. If you prefer lazy days, you can get your tan on or go for a swim. I had no idea this place excited and would gladly have spent every afternoon there.

       4. Aquapark

      Photo credit: Sebastian Rzepiel/Agjenca Gazeta

      The aquapark is great for a day of family fun and I can imagine it being incredibly busy in the summer. It was an expensive investment for the city, but it’s probably worth it. I didn’t get to swim myself as I forgot my swimming costume, but I watched as families enjoyed splashing in the water. I’m quite confused as to why guys aren’t allowed to wear shorts to the pool, Speedos make me cringe and I know I’m not the only girl who thinks so. 

      5. The statue of Jesus in Zwiebodzin


      I debated in length with myself about whether or not to include the statue. But when asking myself the question: ‘is it a tourist attraction”, the answer is yes. The statue could be a money making machine. The world’s biggest Jesus Christ statue could be a destination point for pilgrims as well as the average tourist. That said, its surroundings need a bit of improvement. Personally, the statue wasn’t one of my favourites, but I can definitely see its potential.

       6. Zielona Gora arts


       The small city has so much to offer anyone who is hungry for culture. Whether it’s fine arts, dance, theatre or music, there’s plenty to watch or take part in. I was so happy when I found out Zielona Gora is full of great art venues. I think this is something the city should endorse more as it’s one of your greatest assets.

       7. Pomorskie 

      Anyone who has read my blog or the newspaper knows that I fell in love with Pomorskie. After having been warned to stay far away and being told it was “terrible” and “ugly”, I was expecting the worst. Yes, it might need a refurbishment, yes it might look a bit daunting, but the stereotypical estate I was expecting wasn’t what I found at all. I am very glad I educated myself on Pomorskie and saw it with my own eyes. If the people of Zielona Gora really think Pomorskie is so bad, maybe you should take a trip there yourself. Don’t judge a book by its cover.


       These places are nothing to brag about (in no particular order):

       1.Focus Shopping centre:

      It might be a great attraction for German pensioners looking for cheap booze and wine, but if anyone goes to Zielona Gora only for shopping purposes, I’d be very upset with them. Focus is great for you locals, but I’d advice tourists to spend time doing other things than go shopping at a commercial mall.

       2.  Palm House

      The absolute biggest disappointment in Zielona Gora. After being told how great it was, I had high expectations. It didn’t take long for my expectations to get shattered. No information in English and no one who offered to give me any information. I was simply told: “unfortunately we have no information.” It has a great location with an excellent view, but I’m sorry, it’s hardly a tourist attraction

       3. Wagmostaw Pond

      It’s not only dirty and neglected; I’m worried about safety. The playground next to it tells me that children play right by the pond and without any form of security measures, a child could easily drown.

       4. Chlopska Chata

      I was told this was the beast place to go for Polish Cuisine. The place itself is cozy and traditional, and I instantly fell in love with the interior. However, after waiting at the table for a while, having to get my own menu as the waitress simply ignored me and not being able to decipher it, I was beginning to think it wasn’t a good idea. When I asked for pierogis she simply said “No” and was told there was an hours wait and I felt uncomfortable and left. It might be a great place for locals, but if that were how they treat foreign tourists, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

       5. Speedway stadium

      The stadium in itself doesn’t reflect how popular speedway is. You would think that the home of the city’s most popular sport would be in better condition.

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 18:50
    • The truth about Zielona Gora

      Shortly before my arrival in Zielona Gora, I was presented with a list of what I should and shouldn’t see whilst here. I have now visited all the places on the list and some of them proved to be full of interesting surprises.

       The five places I should visit according to you (pictures to follow shortly):

       Old town

       The old town was voted number 1 on the list and I completely agree. The old town is the most attractive part of the city and I’d gladly spend hours eating ice cream in the sunshine or taking pictures of the cute old houses.

      Score: 10/10

       Wine Hill with the Palm House

       This was one of the biggest disappointments for me. Voted number 2 on the list, I was expecting a lot more than what I found: A glass house as hot as in a baker’s oven and absolutely no information in English. On the plus side, I’ve heard that the restaurant is excellent and it’s a great view of the city. The Wine Hill and the little park below are beautiful and worth the walk.

      Score: 3/10

       Museum in Ochla

       Excellent open-air museum. The only negative aspect is the lack of English speaking staff and information. If the region wants more tourists, give the museum more funds!

       Score: 7/10

       Zielona Gora pubs

       There are plenty of great pubs to choose from. I really enjoy sitting outside and Zielona Gora has definitely understood that beer gardens are the way forward. The nightlife has also proved to be a positive experience although the clubs often get overcrowded.

      Score: 8/10

       Aquapark

       Nice venue with plenty of activities, although mostly for families with children. With affordable prices and modern equipment, but I was expecting it to be bigger.

      Score: 6/10

       

       

      The five places you didn’t recommed I’d see:

      1.Train Station

       It looks like a derelict old warehouse, but it serves its function: departure and arrival of trains. It honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, although the smell wasn’t too pleasant.

       2.Wagmostaw

      The pond and its surroundings definitely needs a bit of work. I noticed a playground right next to it, couldn’t it be dangerous to have children playing so close to the pond without any security measures?

       3. Neglected surroundings of the old town

      I think neglected buildings are trademarks in every city around the world, although it would be nice to see these buildings renovated, as it would add to the charm of the old town.

       4. Speedway stadium

      The stadium in itself is in poor condition and I wonder about how safe it actually is. A visit to the stadium when there’s a match on is definitely worth it though.

       5. Pomorskie

      It’s not a secret I fell in love with Pomorskie. It wasn’t the blocks of flats or the Falubaz signs that made me like it, it was the community. The little shops and the playground, the flowers and the people made Pomorskie a great experience.

      

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 14:57
  • czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011
    • An Englishman in... Zielona Gora

      The usually quiet streets of zielona Gora suddenly got very crowded, as it seemed like the whole town had come together today’s Corpus Christi celebration.

       Last night the streets were filled with teenagers and young adults enjoying Zielona Gora’s nightlife, dancing into the long hours in clubs such as Heaven, Pina Colada and Straszny Dwór. This morning, a completely different crowd filled the streets. The sun had only been up for a few hours, but as I watched people hurrying down the street in the sunshine, dressed in their Sunday best, I was eager to take part in the celebration.

       Arriving late to church, I hurried in and found a seat. It’s been very long since I’ve been to mass and I struggled to keep up with what was going on. The church was packed and people were even standing outside, willing to kneel on the hard asphalt.

      Dressed to impress

       Afterwards I went to a different church for the starting point of the procession. Here it was even more crowded. Old, young, boys and girls all gathered here and I was surprised by the hordes of people gathering for the celebration of the body of Jesus Christ.

       As we waited patiently for the procession to begin, a cute dog and a little girl, playing in the park, sidetracked me. Suddenly I heard an English voice. I quickly turned around and saw the girl’s dad calling out for her. “You’re English?” I almost yelled. After spending nearly a week quietly getting frustrated with myself for not speaking polish and struggling to be understood, I was delighted. Robin from Chester had been living in Zielona Gora for 3 years with his Polish wife and their daughter Anya. In the midst of the excitement of meeting an Englishman in ZG and playing with his daughter and his dog, I suddenly noticed all the people had disappeared. “Oh no, the procession has left”, I cried out as me and Lukasz bid our new friends goodbye and ran down the street.

      The celebration of Corpus Christi had made the whole town get out of bed

      Luckily they hadn’t gotten far and we soon caught up. Watching the procession was great! I found it very humbling and honoured to take part and watch all these people joining together. For me it wasn’t just about religion, but about a community gathering for a common cause.

      Joining the procession was the saint of wine

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 21:30
    • Lubuski Teatr conquers money problems

      It isn’t only in England theatres are struggling with funding, But even though their budget might be small, Lubuski theatre in Zielona Gora are set on giving people great spectacles.

      Award winning actress Anna Haba  (Photo credits: Sebastian Rzepiel/ Agencja Gazeta)

       Performing arts is incredibly important to society and I wanted to see what it was like being an actor in Zielona Gora. Nervous and unsure what to expect, I went to meet Ernest Nita and Anna Haba, two of the actors from the Lubuski Theatre.

       My nerves soon disappear when I am greeted with big smiles and firm handshakes.  As we take our seats in a nearby café, fellow actors Marta Frackowiak, Karolina Honchera and Piotr Charczuk join us.

       The conversation goes on in half Polish half English as the actors tell me they all studied together at the school of Theatre in Wroclaw before joining the theatre here in Zielona Gora: “Before I came here, I had never heard about this city and about what’s happening here”, says Ernest Nita who in September will embark on his fourth year on stage here. “It’s pretty cool. I can’t compare it to other theatres because after theatre school I came here.

       “Acting is a great opportunity to have a few lives. Sometimes I get to be an angel and sometimes a whore without any responsibility for it” - Anna Haba.

      The popular Anna Haba, who earlier this year sweeped up several awards chosen by students, journalists and the public for her outstanding perfomances in plays such as “Po prostu Leon po prostu”  (In English: Just Leon just)  and “Spot”, also enjoys Zielona Gora.

       When I ask Anna about what they play, she tells me: “Everything! There is only theatre in the city so we must play fairytales for kids, comedies, dramas and so on.”


       This brings up the never-ending subject of money. Just like most places, arts funds have been cut here in Zielona Gora too: “Most theatres in Poland have money from the ministry of culture”, Ernest says. In small cities like Zielona Gora the theatres are mostly government owned.

       When I ask if they think their funding is adequate, both Anna and Ernest shake their heads. Both the theatre here and in Gorsow have very small yearly budgets: “I’m not sure exactly how much is it, but something like three million zlotys.” Says Ernest. For a theatre with 24 actors and a total staff count of 66 who all need their salaries, costumes, set design and directors who need to be paid, the tight budget is difficult to work with. Lubuski Theatre risks missing out on getting famous directors to the town because they simply can’t pay the asking price: “That is the problem of our theatre”, Ernest says.

      “Sometimes I want to be someone else. A person has many different people inside and on stage I get to explore” –Marta Frackowiak

       The actors are clearly passionate about wanting the theatre to do well, and are quick to point out that even with the lack of money they can still do good things. Big theatres might have more money, but “We are not behind them”, says Anna. “We have a very good team,” Ernest says before trying to explain to me in broken English that they have a great ensemble with both young and more experienced actors working together.

      “On stage you can use really big emotions. You can be whatever, whomever you want. “ -Karolina Honchera

      The season of controversial, contemporary and funny plays, ended in style as Zielona Gora was the proud host of the first ever International Pro Vinci Theatre festival: “it was a great thing for us”, says Anna. “We had the possibility to see what other theatres are doing.” The four-day event sported 12 plays including two premiers. The actors are clearly proud of the festival, which brought together theatre companies from local towns in Germany and Poland: “Small theatres from Jelenia Gora, Gorsow, Legnica and Zittau were invited with their monodramas, dramas, comedies”, the actors tell me.

       One of last season’s great successes was Playhouse Creatures by British dramatist April De Angelis. The play explores the story of four actresses and their dresser in 17th century London where women had just been allowed to perform on stage: “This was our favourite performance,” says Marta Frackowiak. “I think it was a very important performance for women,” she adds.

       Plans for autumn’s repertoire are still being finalised, but the public can expect to see classics such as Shakespeare and Moliere with Lubuski Theatre’s own twist.

       

       

       

       

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 20:30
    • "So typically Polish"

      Stereotypes exist everywhere: the English are known as fish-and-chips-eating, bowler-hat-wearing conservatives. Norwegians are all meant to be tall, blonde and patriotic. Does everyone in England walk around with bowler hats? No.

       Naturally the polish stereotypes don’t apply to every Pole. Some of them might not be applicable to anyone in Poland.

       Did my visit to Poland strengthen of diminish the stereotypical view of Poles? Read on to see what I discovered:

       “All Polish people are Catholic.”


       Poland has been Catholic since the year 966, and Catholicism has played an important part in the country’s culture and political developments. Statistically speaking, 95% of Poles are catholic, and with 80% going to confession at least once a year,  it’s easy to imagine that most Poles are religious.

       However, just like anywhere else, many people are Catholic by birth but not necessarily practicing. One of my friends here in Zielona Gora was surprised when I asked her if she was Catholic: “Of course I am,” she said. But when I asked her if she believed in God and practiced her religion, the answer was a quick “no”.

       It’s my impression that there are a lot of what I like to call ‘Holiday Catholics” in Poland. These are people who only go to church on important holidays like Christmas, Easter and, of course, Corpus Christi.

       Stereotype truth: 5/10

       “Poles are pessimistic”


       Before going to Poland I was warned never to ask a Pole how he is. A simple “How are you”, could make a Pole go on in length about his troubles instead of the “I’m good thanks”, we are so used to in England.

       I was also told that Poles complain a lot. Now this might be slightly true, but so does everyone else in the world. It’s human nature to never be satisfied.

       Almost every single person I have met so far have come across as funny, positive and happy souls, far from the pessimists I expected to meet.

       Stereotype truth: 1/10

       “Drinking is their favourite hobby”


       “Be prepared for some heavy drinking when you go to Poland”, my Polish friend told me. “Poles can drink like no one else”.

       There’s not much to say about this other than the fact that I have definitely had some first hand experience with Poles and their alcohol, but they have been nothing but enjoyable.

       Stereotype truth: 8/10

       

      “Very friendly”


       Poles are known for their hospitality. If you’re invited to the home of a Pole, be prepared to eat dish after dish while being taken good care of.

       During my stay I have eaten a lot, which suits me perfectly fine, as I love food. I keep saying how friendly everyone’s been to me and I must sound like a broken record, but I can’t emphasise enough how great it’s been to meet such friendly people.

       It might take Poles a while to warm up, they won’t come up to you on the street and offer to help, but if you ask, they won’t turn you down.

       Stereotype truth: 9/10

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 12:51
  • środa, 22 czerwca 2011
    • These are a few of my favourite things

      1. Buses

      Before I arrived in Poland, I imagined it as a country still far behind Western Europe with reminders of communism still apparent in society. Instead I was met by a modern country very similar to the UK. It's therefore hard to think of obvious differences because I have found that both Polish people, Polish shopping and Polish cities are much like people, shopping and cities everywhere. 

      As you might have read, I had a bit of a struggle with the bus and buying tickets. But now that I've gotten the hang of it, I could ride the bus all day long. Here in Zielona Gora, buses are very frequent and they're rather pleasant to be on. Buying a ticket from the machine on the bus saves time and effort, it's much more convenient than trying to buy one from a grumpy London bus driver who frowns at you if you don't give him exact change. 

      If placed in the UK, a city the size of Zielona Gora would barely have local buses, let alone frequent ones. Small cities are often neglected and the government don't exactly pour money into public transport. Instead you're forced to spend a lot of your hard earned cash on petrol, trying to keep your car running. 

      Zielona Gora buses: I am forever grateful! 

      2. People!

      Need I say more? I keep praising everyone I meet because people here are absolutely wonderful. Although maybe a little shy and sometimes hard to convince to speak English, Zielona Gorans are incredibly warm and friendly. Some have said that it might just be because I'm in the newspaper and people know who I am, but I like to think you're just naturally nice! 

      3. Picturesque buildings and beautiful surroundings

      Living in London where everything is big and rather ugly, my eyes are having a feast every time I go outside, soaking up every moment of beauty. 


       


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      środa, 22 czerwca 2011 18:57

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