I chose to live in Berlin this spring in part because it’s close to Eastern Europe, which I haven’t visited at all. When looking at a trip to Poland I realized I could just pop over the German border in a day trip and then I’d have “been there” but it seemed like cheating. A friend here in Berlin recommended Poznan so I booked a ticket and 6 trains later, I arrived in Poznan.
In the end it’s a good thing that I booked all local trains because it allowed me to circumvent the German train strike but when I’d been traveling for almost 5 hours and the 6th train filled up with drunk shouting college students, I had a moment. A “it’s a good thing I can’t understand you because I’d probably want to punch you in the face even more than I already do” moment. I didn’t punch anyone and probably I was hangry.
I actually did a modicum of research before I arrived in Poznan but nevertheless I arrived at the train station to discover many signs with English translations (hooray!) and completely different currency (um… what?). I just assumed they would use Euros. They don’t. So then I had to do some old fashioned sleuthing to figure out the currency exchange since all I had was Euros and I couldn’t get wifi for Google help.
I checked the train ticket machine and then went to an ATM and made a guess. If a 48 hour tram pass costs 21 zlotys perhaps 800 zlotys will be enough for 2 days? In any case, it was the least amount I could withdraw so I went for it. It all came out in 100zloty bills (of course it did) none of which the train ticket machine would take (naturally) so I had to charm a cute shop keeper into letting me buy 5zlotys worth of stuff and pay him with a 100zloty bill, which he did after treating me to my first English language sentence “you can’t be serious…” Alright, it’s like using a $50 bill to pay for a pack of gum but the interaction brought back memories of every country I’ve ever visited (hello Honduras, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala) where giant bills come out of the ATM and no shopkeeper wants to take them.
After all that I was supposed to take a bus and two trams to my hostel but … I didn’t. 6 trains, a mystery currency and a whole new language to solve seemed like enough for a day. Taxi! Plus I figured I’d spend some money quick before I figured out the currency exchange and felt bad about it.
10 minutes and 18 zloty later, I arrived at Rosemary’s Hostel and was escorted to Rosemary’s room.
Yep, this hostel pays homage to Roman Polanski films and I got the Rosemary’s Baby room so it’s just me and Mia for the next couple of days. The upstairs has Polanski film quotes all over the walls and they picked some curious ones
Polanski films are full of dark quotes but these are interesting choices for a hotel, right? But it’s cheap and clean so I’m fine with it.
After checking the exchange rate – very favorable – and orienting myself, I took off to see Stary Rynek – the Old Town Square – and get some dinner. The weather was cold and grey and rainy, leading to drab pictures of a very beautiful square. But dinner at Brovaria on was fantastic, which makes me reevaluate my theory that all restaurants in a public square will have great views and crap food.
Dude, that’s a pork knuckle, beloved all across Germany and Eastern Europe. I only need one this month and I’m glad this was it because it was stellar.
I’m so glad the weather got cleared up this morning because all the museums are closed on Mondays and my only option was to wander the city. Here’s the difference between yesterday
Isn’t this the prettiest central square you’ve ever seen? I couldn’t stop photographing it
This building in the middle of the square used to be a castle and is now a museum
and has mechanical goats that come out at noon and butt heads
This is only interesting because these goats have been part of this building since 1551, and keep getting replaced every time they wear out. That picture strained the limits of my iPhone, but you get the idea. It’s a big tourist draw.
After the goats I just wandered around the city, and took in a local market
It’s asparagus season here in Europe
And some beautiful modern and historical architecture all juxtaposed together
It’s such a pretty city that I could post a million pictures of the architecture. But I eventually made my way to Cathedral Island, where Poznan became a city 1000 years ago. Now it’s the home of the Poznan cathedral with a lovely mix of Gothic hallways
And baroque chapels
And some murals that seem to be a mix of the both with some Polish decorative accents
The cathedral has 12 separate chapels and has been rebuilt, remodeled and renovated multiple times since 968. It’s gorgeous and I’m glad I made the effort.
That wasn’t the end of my day but I’ll leave you here and I’ll tell you about the Citadel tomorrow, as well as this guy
More Poznan tomorrow.