Man In A Suitcase

Krakow, Poland

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, Poland

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...

Warsaw, Poland

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.

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