There is two good things for me about Poland. The first is the country being charming, the second is being easy to reach from France and the Baltics. Making my trips simple to plan. Having spent a week in France I chose to fly to Poznan to spend couple of days and explore some interesting parts of the country in the hottest month of the year.
Having been tutor of Polish students in Tallinn for several semesters, I have good relations with many of them in different part of the country. This time I could met with one in the west part of the country with the possibility to move around with a car so to not stay only in a city and see more of a region. I initially wanted to get a plane to Wroclaw and visit the south of its area but I couldn’t decide myself to buy the ticket, when I tried the flight was full and I switch my choice to Poznan. I heard a lot of this town but I never get to see it. It will make me complete my list of large Polish town, after Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Katowice, Wroclaw and Gdansk!
Landing in the afternoon, I bought a bus ticket to go to the city centre. Vending machine didn’t accept my credit card, and I had to make change at the store to use coins. Buses are going often and I didn’t wait a lot before one arrived. The closest stop I found was ten or fifteen minutes away from my hostel, right over a tram line. I checked in and took a shower, I felt like I needed it.
My first evening alone I walked to the main square and was amazed by how pretty it is! I couldn’t imagine that and I haven’t looked at any photos before coming (true). The town hall is pretty and the square was alive, lot of cafés and restaurant, a charming atmosphere, and live music at every corners. I only turn around this main building and sat at a restaurant to order pierrogies and mushroom soup served in bread bowl. Tasty and cheap.
After a good night despite the tram circulating until midnight, I took my camera and was decided to see a bit more of the town. The hostel is located only ten minutes from the main square! I began with the university square and Greater Theater park which has a nice large fountain.
Later on the old marketsquare I met with my Polish friend Aga who cam from Lodz by car. As she arrived around noon we had the chance to see the mid-day the head butting goats.
We first went to eat in a Polish restaurant one street away from the tourist square, and then discovered the park of Chopin behind the Jesuit College.
Cathedral and golden chapel
At the city’s border is a little island where we found the Poznan cathedral. This building is totally new and has nothing much in common with the historical cathedral of Poznan which has been destroyed by the Red Army during the Second World War. According to images I saw, the pre-war building of baroque style, a large and white cathedral common in Poland. Within the wall of the cathedral is a small chapel with the wall entirely in gold; giving it the name of Golden Chapel.
Palaces of Wielkopolaska
Aga and me left Poznan for the two southern palaces we found on the tourist map: Kornik and Rogalin. In Kornik we bought ice creams and paid to enter the botanical park, there were many type of flowers and trees. I am not a specialist of any sort so it was for me just a nice park to walk in.
In Rogalin we enter the palace’s park for free. It doesn’t have the same charm but remain good. There was a couple getting photograph for pre-wedding pictures. We saw some road sign indicating several viewpoints and special gardens and followed the road by walk to not find anything…
Former capital of Gniezno
In the morning, after a little walk and a coffee by the lake, we left definitely Poznan to get to see more cities on the centre. We arrived in Gniezno, first capital city of Poland, and where the legend episode of the brothers Lech, Rus and Czech took place. The three brother searching for a place to live discover the wild land on the region. Lech saw and tamed an eagle which became the symbol of Poland and decided to build a castle there. Cezch continued his journey to the south, and Rus to the east.
We parked the car for free behind the cathedral, the first related to the beginning of the Christianity in Poland. Inside of it we had a lot of tourist groups, school children and elderly. We climb the high tower from which we had a good view on the surrounding: the main street, the square and the landscape outside the town.
Leaving the tower, we came to eat at a restaurant on the main square, food wasn’t top but I was hungry. There was some festival: games, folk songs…
Cathedral of Lichen Stary
I had the chance to see and visit the largest Polish cathedral! That is a very impressive building though it is new (1994-2004). The tall building is lost in countryside and has a large park with older church and several elements that can please Christians.
From the outside, the façade is huge, but it is nothing compare with what I would see from the inside! High columns, golden walls, countless bench and a underground with name of all people who made donations. There were not many people in it, us included were less than twenty pilgrim/tourists.
In Lichen is also the icon of Our Lady Lichen, a famous lady on a red frame. We wanted to see it and crossed all the park. The weather changed quickly and once arrived in a small chapel protecting it, the rain appeared and Aga and I were stuck in the small building. Beside the rain were heavy storms, scary and loud.
We stayed in the chapel from more than 40 minutes and when it rained less we walk fast to get back to the car. We needed to be before the night in Toruń…
Medieval town of Toruń
Toruń is said to be one the five Polish beauty. The entire city has kept a medieval appearance and a great atmosphere. Everything I like to see when I go abroad 🙂
We arrived very late in the city, some accident happened on the only road that goes to Toruń from the south when we were only 10km from it. It took us more than 1h30 to turn back and take the other road, passing by Bydgoszcz… During this night we discovered the main attractions by night, and stop in several pub to drink.
The morning later we more productive, the city being also much more alive. I bought souvenirs, and we looked at a flea market. Aga bought me a special Polish dish consisting of smoked cheese and jam! Interesting taste but good 🙂 I heard that is somethign typical from the south of the country in mountain areas.
In Torun I found my favourite part around the castle ruins. There are the ruins, a gate and a nice crossroad with small waterfall and river.
Back to lodz
Leaving Toruń it took us a bit more than three hours to get to Lodz, having stopped at two town that were more or less on our way.
Łęczyca & Poddębice
The small town of Leczyca is one of the oldest city of Poland, the first meeting of the Polish Parliament took place in the town in the 12th century. Already back in 6th century there was a fort and nowadays people can find an old castle built around 1330 under the Kazimierz the Great.
My friend had to do something in Poddebice, I use the time we were separate to visite to the church of Saint Mark the Evangelist. It is simply decorated but the altar looks nice with its few golden touches.
Short walk in lodz
In Lodz I had difficulties to walk, my right foot was hurting so we didn’t move a lot. Mostly being the famous Piotrkowska street.
We drove to an old factory re-designed into apartments and shops. The main buildings looks great and are completed, but the workers residential houses were still being under reconstruction. It will look pretty in few months I think. On Piotrkowska I looked at the many statues and houses, it remind me a lot of memories from my first time in Lodz. The air was hot and firemen open public water to make improved fountains. Many children were playing in them. That main street was crowed, thousand of thousand of people were walking or sitting at terraces!
Aga brought me to the train station and after saying goobye I took train to Warsaw the capital and then a night bus to Vilnius. That is how I left Poland and concluded an amazing vacation in interesting places that would be difficult to see without a car and a local to guide you 🙂
One day in Vilnius
Haven’t been to Lithuania in a year I hoped to do a lot and see new things, but my pain in my right foot plus a bad night and a luggages made it complicated. Instead I chill and ride bikes most of the time.
In the morning I began walking in the old part of Vilnius, it was sunny and not very hot (sun rise early in summer) and I went to find a coffee place that open before 9am, found one on the avenue. Later I bought a ticket for city bike, allowing me to go everywhere without having to walk or take buses. This is something very convenient and cost less than 5 euros for one day, trip on bikes are limited to 30min, but one can take as many ride as he wants 🙂
In the most soviet park of the capital (where was a statue of Lenin) I found for the first time the Lithuanian coat of arms floating in the air.
I got more coffees and climbed the Gediminas hill to get to the the castle tower. The weather changed so fast that all tourists and me were trapped and had to hide from the rain and the thunders. It was a little scary as we heard the loud noises coming closer and closer to finally make the ground shakes!
In evening I went to the train station to change clothes and feel a little more comfortable for my second and last night bus. Day later I will be in Tallinn for the last days of summer vacation and then go to work again with my head full of memories! 🙂