Cozy cafés, creative street art, colorful little streets and rainforest! This year’s trip with mom starts in Poznan, Poland.
I find myself in a city in the middle of the country, but for a moment I feel like I could have been at a cafe by the sea. There are deckchairs all around me and in some of them people are relaxing. I sit in a hammock myself. At Burger KONT you get your chilled white wine served in colourful plastic glasses on a table made of pallets. It is rough and simple but very cozy. I feel the stress pouring out of my body while my tired legs get a rest.
It is the annual trip with mum and we needed a little rest now, after our stroll around the old town for a few hours. Just as we experienced in Krakow, Poznan also has an old square framed by colorful and beautiful old buildings. We toast and talk of how little we knew about Poznan when we booked our trip (the destination is really Wroclaw, but hey, why not add another city while we’re at it). Now we know this is a big student town and that Poznan was once the capital of Poland.
A lady in Wroclaw will later tell me that Poznan residents are the Scots of Poland. Careful with their money in other words. It is said with a smile and if they are a bit stingy with money, they are at least generous with their smiles. People are nice and relaxed, so no reason not to enjoy Poznan.
You won’t stay long in Poznan before you meet Pan Peryskop, or Watcher, as this character by the artist Noriaki is called. A sort of reminder of ‘Big Brother’ watching everything, I’ve read somewhere, while others believe it is just a happy guy celebrating life. Whatever he is, it seems as though every single wall in the city has a version of the rascal.
One good thing about student cities is that they often have many cozy cafes. We fall in love with Weranda. One afternoon we sit in the backyard of Weranda Café, which is located in one of the nicest little streets around the old square. Inside, the ceiling is filled with pink paper strips. In the backyard, the sky is almost shut out from an abundance of green plants. Here we eat large and tasty salads, not to mention the fruity spritzels we drink, which help in the heat. The weather has in fact decided to play on our team and it just gets hotter and hotter it seems. We don’t mind, when later in the evening, we enjoy our dinner at Weranda Caffe & Ristorante. Here too there is a lovely backyard and candles have been placed everywhere to give a warm ambience.
We really feel the sun when we stroll along the Warta river the day after, to find Kontainer Art. I make an error on the map and it turns out that the place is in the other direction along the river. We have to turn around and walk back. No problem. We have learned a little about life on the river now. School classes out for a boat trip, the occasional kayakers, men fishing and joggers. Unfortunately we also see a lot of garbage here too, but in a few years, we believe it will be quite a different experience to walk along here.
One thing we really notice is the absence of signs of a financial crisis here in Poland. Everywhere there is refurbishing and building work going on. Busy with parks, roads and buildings. Polish migrant workers are heading back home again, as there are better conditions here now. There appears at least to be enough jobs in the construction industry. We can’t help but notice many new bathrooms and toilets around. Clean and built to a high standard.
Kontainer Art. It looks very exciting when we finally find it. It is calm and quiet right now. Its midday and nothing is going on. But when there is life here, there are concerts, a bar (with seating on the container roof too), beach volleyball, beach chairs, gallery and studios. I would think this is a popular spot among the city’s students.
We walk and walk. Cross a street, stop and look. Move on. Details, colours and moods. We notice something else when we stop at street crossings. People stand, always patiently waiting for the green man. Only a very few walk on the red light. Later, when I search online, I find that one can be fined for crossing the street on a red light, so called “jaywalking” here in Poland. Not even tourists escape the fine, if they get caught.
We walk across to the Cathedral Island, where there is a statue of Pope John Paul, who they are proud of in Poland. Further along Ostrówek, we find Na Winklu, a delightful cafe, where you can rest your legs for a while. If you do visit there and use the toilet, look up! The coolest photo is on the ceiling.
Neither Mum nor I are great shoppers. We make some small attempt in Polwiejska Street and the shopping centers, Stary Browar and Poznan City Center. We end up with just a few token items. Instead we find our way to a place I read about in an old Lonely Planet before I left home.
By the Thomasen Park you find Palmiarnia Poznanska or the “palm house”. It’s rainy and grey when we head there and a perfect day to stay inside. In the massive green house we find plants and trees from all around the world. It is divided into rooms for rainforest, tropical forests, cacti and orchids to name but a few. With all the large green leaves, the smell from the plants and very few visitors, this place is providing us a delicious tranquility. Later in their café we listen to the meditation music being played and find ourselves wanting to return to the hotel to sleep. The sound of running water everywhere doesn’t really help either.
St. Martins Day is celebrated in Poznan and on November 11th the citizens of the city enjoy their St. Martin croissant called Rogal. It’s a delicious croissant filled with an almond mixture (in our case). Fortunately you can get this croissant at other times, not only this one day. In a tiny bakery right by the old town square we find them. Sweet and tasty.
After three days we say goodbye to Poznan. The sun is out again when we sit waiting for the train to Wroclaw and we pretend that we are on a mini interrail, although it is only a two hour train journey to our next destination. It doesn’t really feel like it, but Poznan is one of Poland’s largest and oldest cities. We have certainly missed a great deal with only three days here, but we are happy. We liked what we have seen of a colorful center, exciting cafes, cozy little streets and pleasant people. As Poznan disappears behind us, we are hurtling southward through golden fields and a flat landscape. Somewhere I read that Poland is the new Denmark (a very popular holiday destination for Norwegians). We might agree with that.