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.

Płock - Lida Aslanidou

  • sobota, 25 czerwca 2011
    • Volleyball World League-Go Poland!

      Puerto Rico was ready to play the game...was it ready to lose it all? 

      FINAL RESULT:

      Poland-Puerto Rico: 3-1 

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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 11:53
    • Some general observations :)

      Having spent a considerable number of days in Poland, I think I’m now ready to test the stereotypes I heard before arriving and share with the readers what I found surprising in Poland.

      Polish people, although not used to hot temperatures and although finding quite normal temperatures extremely hot, regardless of the weather, drink tea and eat soup in the summer. Until recently I thought it was an old wives’ tale but, trust me, it is true that a hot tea might cool you down. The explanation behind it, as I read online, is that “hot tea makes you sweat and that helps cool you off”(Source: About.com).

      I’ve fount myself many times crossing the street alone with a number of questionable pairs of eyes spotted on me. Polish people always stop on the red light regardless of how far the next car approaching is or how small the street is. Should the rest of us learn from Poland?

      Another observation regarding their streets is that you’ll hardly ever see cigarette disposals, which, in my view, is partially attributed to the fact that they’ve got a lot of bins in most of the corners and an obvious respect towards their town.

      Sadly enough, there are too many homeless people, drug addicts or alcoholics, in the streets, that, as I’ve been told, have only become annoying lately. They ask people at the cafes and bars for cigarettes or money and even when they get it, they will insist for more. The Mayor informed me that action is already taken to minimize the number of homeless people but the local government is planning to take more steps forward.

      As a native polish girl has told me, polish people love to complain. Although I tried to convince her that ‘complaining’ is an international phenomenon and it is part of the human nature, she insisted that no one nation does it to the extent that polish people do. Do you?

      When it comes to points that could be improved in Poland, there are some suggestions that could make Poland a better place. During my stay here, I hardly found any signs in English, whether that implies signs in the museums or in the streets. This, combined with the fact that most people in the streets did not speak any English, at times made me feel insecure about whether I will find my way or whether I am in the right place.

      Before I arrived to Plock, I was planning to rent a bike that will help me get around. To my disappointment, I didn’t find any places to rent a bike and I believe that especially for a town like Plock, bikes would be a very convenient means of getting around.

      As I had mentioned on my very first post, before I found out I would participate in Misja21, I knew little about Poland and most of it was about the country’s history. In regards to stereotyping all I had heard is that Polish people love to drink; indeed they do and the truth is that they can stand large amount of alcohol but, from what I’ve experienced, they will hardly ever harm anyone-it’s all about having a fun night!

      One thing I know for sure is that I will very much miss walking down the streets of Płock, interacting with people, learning new words in Polish and so many more things!

      Lida,x


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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 11:28
    • How sweet are sweet streets?

      Prior to my arrival, readers of the Gazeta voted for a list of things that I should avoid visiting while in Płock. I decided that I should visit all of them on the last day and so I did.

      “Sweet streets”:  they are called as such because, ironically enough, most of the streets in the neighbourhood in question have a name of a sweet. A depressing sight, indeed, that makes you wonder how people survive in those residences and why the authorities don’t take any action to

      improve their condition.  The saddest part of the story is that the place has a big potential as green areas and facilities for young people surround the dull, grey buildings. However, after the discussion that I had with the Mayor of Płock, I keep my hopes up that change and improvement is yet to come.

      Train station: for all those who have been readingmy posts from the beginning of this week, I can confirm that I found a station worse than Zachodnia in Warsaw. A terrible place, whose picture, explains why people in Płock make little use of trains and why there is only one train running from Płock. The image of the old and dirty is further enhanced by that of the homeless people sleeping in the corners of the station and the one of the bathrooms for which you have to pay in order to use.

      Otolinska street: this street is another place that the readers suggested I should avoid visiting as it is considered one of the worst streets to drive a car on. In my view there are a lot worse streets in the centre of Płock and, in fact, the only negative thing about this street that needs to be changed is its intersection with the railways.

      While driving on Otolinsta street you'll find yourself in front of a big, blue building, ironically named "the place of miracles". The building provides shelter to homeless people of any kind, and from what I've heard, it is the place where the most cruelties take place.

      If we trust the Mayor's words, the afore-mentioned places, we'll be worth-visiting only after 3 from now! 

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      sobota, 25 czerwca 2011 01:37
  • piątek, 24 czerwca 2011
    • Interview with the Mayor of Płock

      Andrzej Nowakowksi was inaugurated as Mayor of Płock half a year ago. This afternoon, I had the chance to meet with him and talk about his plans for the city, the key challenges that the city is facing and listen to his recommendations for tourists, visiting Plock.

      I arrived earlier than the time and received a warm welcome from the staff while waiting for the Mayor to return from his meeting in Warsaw.

      Attractions

      The first question regarded tips that the mayor would offer newcomers to Płock and the answer that I received was quite obvious. Mr Nowakowksi would definitely suggest a walk around the old city, the old market square, the view of the Vistula River from Tumskie Hill, the cathedral and the zoo, which, as he said, is a "favorite attraction especially for families with young children." Later in the discussion, he said that, adding to afore-mentioned, unless someone sees the Orlen arena and the Orlen oil company by night, they are missing out a great deal.

      Challenges of the city

      When asking the mayor about the key challenges facing the city, he answered that the biggest challenge is to take the traffic away from the city centre. In regard to the Orlen oil company, he referred to it as a ‘blessing and a problem’ as, on the positive side, it increases the wealth of Płock, but on the downside, it releases hazardous gases in the city.

      “Realizing that the Euro ’12 will only last for a month, we’re not planning to change something exclusively for this occasion. In general, however, we are aiming to build sport infrastructure for young people and increase the number of young people who engage in sport activities.” He also added that there is a program in Poland which funds the building of basketball and football courts; Płock is aiming to make use of the fund to create such areas, a swimming pool near the sports arena and a skate park.

      One of the saddest things that I observed while in Poland is that there is a big number of homeless people in the streets. My question to Mr Nowakowksi was whether he has any plans to provide those people with food, shelter or education.

      “The city covers social assistance but, unfortunately, not everyone wants to accept the help that we are offering. The city has cooperated both with educational institutions and with NGOs to prevent such cases but there is a considerable number of people who do not accept the help offered.”

      Although Mr Nowakowksi has not had enough time to materialize most of his plans yet, I asked him whether he has had any obstacles that prevented him from doing a better job than what he is presently doing. Before his inauguration as Mayor of Płock, he was a member of parliament. He admitted however, that it is only his current position that offers him the authority and the opportunity for real changes. One of the possible obstacles that he might face is the cooperation with the city council, which has been great so far. “One of my goals is to try to convince the city council to take into consideration the opinion of the opposing parties, as well. The second one, is to make workers of the city hall more sensitive towards the problems of Płock.”

      After my visit to three of the places that the readers had voted as places that a tourist should not visit while in Plock, I decided to ask the Mayor of Płock whether he is planning to change their current condition and transform them into a better place both for the locals and the tourists.

      “Every city has places that is proud of and ‘ashamed of’. I’m hoping that in 3 years time, the appearance of the “Sweet streets” will change and the train station will be hugely improved.”

      Plock and Poland

      When asking the mayor about the relationship between the local administration and the polish government, the general impression that I got is that, so far, it is a very positive relationship that has been extremely beneficial for the citizens of Plock. Prior to our meeting, the mayor was in a meeting with the Governor of the Mazovian region and discussed the case of building a department for fire fighters in the left part of Plock. Besides, he hopes that he will, soon, find substantial funds for the reparation of currently damaged streets in the city.

      After the discussion, the Mayor urged me to visit Płock in 3 years’ time and witness the change that he has been referring to throughout the interview and invited me to the Volleyball game that is taking place tonight in the Orlen arena.

      I’m wishing good luck both to Mr Nowakowksi and his plans and to the…polish volleyball team!

      Off to the game!x

       

       

       

       

       









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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 17:50
    • Walk on religious Płock

      Corpus Christi is a celebration for some Anglican and most Catholic churches and it celebrates the Body of Christ, consecrated in the Mass.  Having grown up in a Christian orthodox environment, I had never heard of this feast before, but seeing that it is quite important for Polish people, I headed down to the city centre to the Eucharistic procession.

      The celebration takes the form of a parade, which passes through the streets and stops atdesignatedaltars along the route. There, the bishops and the rest of the crowd stop and sing a hymn of adoration. Coming from a quite religious background, apart from the journalistic nature that required my presence, I had a personal interest in finding out what Corpus Christi is all about and how it is celebrated.

      As I was heading down to the city centre with my shadow, Milena, and her family, I was hearing bells ringing and could, identify, that it was coming from the Basilica Cathedral right at the centre of Płock. Indeed, a few minutes after, I realised that a considerable number of people had gathered at that point and the parade had already started. The sound of drums to keep the rhythm, combined with the music played by the orchestra and the whole atmosphere, created a beautiful environment that reminded me a lot of the way Christian Orthodox celebrate Easter.

      As Kamilla, who is visiting Lodz, wrote in her recent post, there was a quite obvious absence of people between 20-30.  For once again, I thought to myself that apparently it is not only a Greek phenomenon but, on a more international scale, young people tend to be indifferent towards religious matters. Correct me if I’m wrong but this was my observation.

      I have, many times, witnessed a very disrespectful atmosphere that made me think why people have to join religious celebrations when they, hardly, understand their meaning and they, hardly, mean anything to them. In this case, although I don’ feel I have perfectly understood the deeper meaning of Corpus Christi, it was an interesting celebration and I was happy to witness an occasion where most people seemed to respect both the feast and the rest of the people present. Furthermore, it was really dissapointing to hear that there are many occasions where people go to the hospital because of the great amounts of alcohol that they consume on this day.

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      piątek, 24 czerwca 2011 02:38
  • czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011
    • Best attractions in Płock

      Zoo: the zoo is beautifully located on the hills above Vistula River. Before visiting, I had heard that Płock’s zoo is among the best zoos in Poland. Although I have no measure of comparison, I can assure that it definitely among the richest ones I’ve ever visited on a global scale. While there, I had the chance to witness lions’ loving moment, penguins’ lunch time and meet the famous Marta, an 80-year-old alligator that has even taken part in a Polish movie. A must-see!

      Vistula River: should I say more? For the past days and since I discovered its existence, I always seek to spend a few minutes, sometimes hours, of my day, there, starring at the breath-taking view and falling in love with Płock. Although a meeting point of couples, singles will never feel lonely there; the place, itself, is enough. Also, a boat cruise on the river is guaranteed to calm you.  

      Małachowianka: the oldest school in Poland, dating back to 1180. The nicest part of the school is its observatory, which is located on the top floor of a 15th century tower. Aleksandra, who graduated from that high-school, explained that the day she made the greatest use of the school's facilities was the graduation day; she waited for everyone to leave the building and went on the tower with her friends and starred at the sky. 

      Cathedral Basilica or Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Masovia: another impressive historic building located on Tumskie Hill. Furthermore, as I've mentioned before, it is a shame that one has to pay in order to see the grave of the king and adds a commercial atmosphere to an otherwise, sacred place.

      Mazowian museum: not the best thing to visit while in Płock but worth visiting, as it will enhance your knowledge on the history of the town. The museum is, also, home to one of the largest and quite interesting Art Nouveau collections. If you’ll find yourself asking why there is a collection of stuffed animals, as it happened in my case, the answer is that it is part of the old museum that was located in the same place. Remember to read something about the museum before your visit as most of the descriptions are only in Polish.

      Spiechlerz museum: I visited a tattoo exhibition, which exhibited tattoos mostly from prisoners. The top floor is dedicated to the Second World War and has sculptures and paintings showing the priests, prisoners and victims and depicting the atrocities. If you find yourself in Płock but do not have enough time to visit both, I definitely recommend that you visit Spiechlerz museum.

      Street art: Street art in Płock is particularly interesting-walk around the town and spot the murals! 

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      czwartek, 23 czerwca 2011 19:05
  • środa, 22 czerwca 2011
    • Delicious Płock!

      A honey-beer a day, keeps Lida…in Płock

      Lida in a week: fat, alcoholic, both? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

      Being among the greatest food lovers and appreciating good alcohol, one of the first things to do while in Płock was to try both. I can now confirm that polish people are doing great on both kitchen and drinks.

      As I’ve mentioned earlier, on my first day I had a taste of the local polish food at a typical Polish country restaurant on Godzka Street. My first dish was a soup, Barszcz czerwony, which translates as red borscht. The soup is made of red beetroot juice and the taste dominating is a natural sweetness.  My main dish was “pierogi” which are boiled or fried dumplings stuffed with potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese or fruits. I tried sweet pierogi, which were stuffed with cottage cheese and were served with sour cream and strawberries-delicious!

      Earlier the same afternoon I tried Pszeniczne Miodowe, a local honey wheat beer produced at the Tumski Brewery right at the centre of the Old Square. To all of you beer-loving readers, try it, and I bet you’ll fall in love with it the way I did. Remember however that polish beers are not as light as regular ones so beware of the quantities that you consume.

      Today and yesterday night I ordered the same dish, by mistake, but both times it was delicious. It was another must-try polish dish, called ‘Placek po zbojnicku’ and translating as potato pancakes with goulash and salad. At this point however, although the dish was

      brilliant, I will focus on the place I had it this morning, which was a “babo’s” house. Indeed, we walked through a neighbourhood in the centre of Płock that took us to a small room comprised of two tables and a kitchen, the “old lady’s place”, as they call it. As we entered, a customer recognised me and asked my shadow whether I am ‘the actress from London’. Hearing this, the cook said ‘I don’t care if she’s an actress, a journalist or a student…to me she is just a hungry person’, which is the exact attitude that I needed with a hunger like that.

      The same morning, I visited the street market, Krolewiecka, and tried milk straight from the cow, cucumbers malosolne and wild strawberries! I pretty much liked all of them!

      Even though it was a Tuesday and the town was quite we spent an amazing night. The night started with 4 or 5 of us and ended with almost 10 people.  One thing I know for sure; polish people know how to have fun and how to stand enough alcohol. A must-try is ‘mad dog’ shot which is made of Vodka, Raspberry Juice and a few drops of Tabasco, and Vodka with flavour of nuts.

      Na zdrowie!

      Lida,x

       

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