I was less than thrilled when I was asked to add Poland to my November travel itinerary, mostly because I was already bouncing to a new city every two or three days. And all the stories I'd heard of the former Communist world made me nervous about how a Polish stopover might affect the rest of my trip. Fortunately I was able to defer the trip; unfortunately, the new date was in March. In case you've ever wondered, spring comes very late to Poland.
Between the weather and a killer schedule (lecture from 9 to 2; then travel
for up to six hours to the next city), I didn't get to see much of the
country. Krakow (which is properly pronounced Krakoff) was my first stop;
these pictures are the view from my hotel. There's an impressive market
square and a gigantic old castle in Krakow; some day I hope to get more than
a passing glimpse of them.
Lòdz, which the locals pronounce Woodch, was my second stop. I saw even less here than I did in Krakow. (And thanks to a driving snowstorm, even less of Gdansk, my next stop.) The guidebooks describe Lòdz in less than glowing terms. And in truth it's a pretty unattractive industrial city. But the people I met more than made up for the scenery; they were knowledgeable, creative, interested and extremely hospitable. I'm looking forward to a return trip. But next time let's try for a less Arctic time of year...
My second visit to Poland came just over a year after my first. That
just over part is important, since April's weather is a bit
more civilized than March. Trip number two was quick: just over
thirty-six hours from arrival to departure for Budapest. It isn't
fair to evaluate a city from such a limited exposure. I'm sure there
are interesting places to visit. And one day I hope to find them.
Most of the architecture I found was, to be polite, kind of uninspired.
The Communist era stuff is your basic egalitarian ugly. And then
there are modern horrors like this skyscraper shared by LOT (the
Polish airline) and the Warsaw Sheraton. To be fair, it was perfectly
nice inside. And the phones didn't disconnect on me, which put it
ahead of my hotel in Athens. But I sure would have liked to see
some more distinctive scenery. Even the churches I saw were kind of
dull. Big and dull. I have a few coworkers who are like that.
Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California