Getting to Know Poznań and Saying Goodbye

Just like the previous trip, that one was also supposed to finish in Poland. There’s something reassuring about coming here, because it serves to help make a transition from Europe to Russia and that’s how many people in our country see it anyway. We spent this last night of our trip in the same hotel near the Polish-German border where we stayed on the night we found out the royal baby had arrived. We arrived there in the evening and found ourselves in the Polish countryside. The cafes were packed with lorry drivers and we had to struggle a bit to find a supermarket which was said to be in the neighbourhood. We did find it and stocked up on some good-value Polish food. Funny Polish letters made an appearance again, the second time around during this trip! After sitting on a bench for a while and sizing up a serene landscape, we headed back to our room and happily munched on our food. As much as I might oppose to people going on and on about their food experiences while travelling, I think it has to be one of the ways (not the only one!) to experience a country because just as I said on my account of Venice, it’s all about senses! But it’s not just what you eat but how you feel eating it. I was certainly happy but later that night it finally hit me that was it, tomorrow night I would be on the train to Moscow and would have to say goodbye to all the romance and the feelings it had aroused in me. How would I carry on without it all, the feeling of adventure and romance in the air? I had no idea back then but now of course I know going back to normal is inevitable even if it didn’t seem so back then… I came back to our room where I was expecting to find my friend fast asleep to see her wide awake and looking really frightened. She got waken up by the noise of someone sneeking into the room. According to her, that someone could only be a ghost and she was positively sure about that! I tend to take all these ghost stories with a pinch of salt, but in the current setting I could buy into it, because you never know after all these places we had visited what kind of games your imagination might be playing with you. We sat there for a while with the lights on putting the world to rights and speculating who that ghost might have been… Still wondering how things will transpire and what our “normal” daily lives would be like, we went to bed and of course, whoever that ghost was didn’t make another appearance through the course of the night…
It was a lovely brisk morning and we were bound for the final destination on our trip, Poznań, a nice city in west-central Poland. Translated from Polish, its name might mean “a known city” or “something you got to know”. So will Poznań be poznan to us? I doubted it would because we weren’t going to have too long to spend here. A few picturesque Polish landscapes later, we found ourselves almost in the heart of the city. To be honest, I’d never heard of the city before and had no idea we would be visiting so I was intrigued to make it as much of a poznan as possible. It is actually one of the largest cities in Poland, the capital of the Wielkopolska region and has a population of about 500 thousand people. What we saw when we arrived was rather a view you would get in a nice little town. The streets were queit and there didn’t seem to be much going on. Our guide was a friendly guy who spoke good Russian and had an amazing sense of humour. The highlight of our brief tour was the Old Town Square, just like in any major city of Poland. It felt like a fairytale to see all those differently coloured buildings which used to be merchants’ houses (domki budnicze). They were the brightest memory of the city for me. It would have been fascinating to learn more about individual stories of each of the lovely buildings.
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The only sombre feature seemed to be a punishment post (pręgierz). We proceeded towards the church at the opposite end of the square. I love visiting Catholic churches for purely aesthetic reasons and I was happy to find out we were going to get inside. The Lesser Basilica of St.Stanislavus was a really beautiful and enlightening place to visit and funny comments from the guide made this quite a light-hearted experience. It was just us and no one else in the entire church and there is something spiritual about Polish churches or it could be my perception of Poland that makes them so… We continued our brisk walk of a few more streets of Poznań. Some were lined up with lovely cafes and restaurants inviting to pop into. Some other time, some other day… Probably…
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No one would guess what the symbols of Poznań are. These are goats as we were later to find out as we were walking down ul.Kozia (Goat Street). According to a legend, two goats were the ones to save the city from a fire and now they are featured on different souvenirs. I’ve got myself a souvenir of two goats head-butting each other and it is really cute. There is a monument featuring them as well and one girl in the group was so fond of it that the guide made a joke saying that as a Russian proverb runs, love can be so tough on you that one day you might find yourself falling in love with a goat… He really had a dazzling sense of humour!
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Of course there are some German influences in Poznań because it is not too far. Bamberg’s Girl Fountain is one of them. People used to come here from an area in Germany called Bamberg during a plague and eventually assimilated into a local community. This fountain is a symbol of these close ties. You can tell about high aspirations of the city and there is a large business centre Stary Browar that got a number of international awards. It was seen a distance away, but we didn’t have time to explore that part of the city.
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We had time for one more thing and that was to buy a unique local pastry with a day’s worth of calories in it. That was Rogal Świętomarciński (St Martin’s Croissant). We had a bit of a struggle trying to buy it because the shop assistant didn’t seem to understand either English, or Russian, or German, or Ukrainian. But looking back, it was fun. Even though your waistline might be the last thing you would worry about on a trip, I didn’t attempt to eat the whole croissant one at one go. That was a delight I decided I would savour just as the memories of our Poznań visit…
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There was a cute black cat on a window cill as we were making our way back to our coach and I remember thinking as I was looking at it how cats didn’t really have a nationality… A quite random thought to have, I know… I hope I’ll come again even if it involves head-butting someone like those goats did…
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Munching on the rest of my croissant from Poznań surrounded by a bunch of oriental-looking kids making nuisances of themselves was my memory of getting back to Russia…

OK, that was it. Here comes the saddest part. When we got back to Moscow, we wanted more of course but it was time we got in touch with the rational part of us and realize it all had to end, it always does… That was a beautiful extensive trip of this part of the world that has yet so much to offer. Reconnecting with Warsaw in a more intimate way, having a fun-packed day in Berlin, getting a little disappointed by Paris, falling in love with a feeling of love in Paris, taking my first dip into the sea in Cannes, enjoying more Meditarrenean and blue skies in Nice, feeling as if rubbing shoulders with the royalty in Monaco, getting attacked by mosquittos in Milan, writing a letter to Juliet in Verona, have my mind floating in the floating city of Venice, having a green walk in Dresden and finally being delighted by the colours of Poznań’s Old Town were one of the highlights of this trip. And more importantly, just as in the first trip, I learned more about me, what I’m capable of learning and feeling through the course of the short ten days. Getting bac to normal isn’t an easy thing at all but it’s all part of a trip. May this ghost my friend allegedly saw entering our room be a memory of the trip which would never let go. These trips are so revitalizing because sometimes they seem to give you strength to get through a time in between. I still get overwhelmed by the amount of beauty I saw on this trip and I think now there has to be a romantic in me after all… There you have it. Here is to more beautiful travels and ever-lasting memories to hold onto!

Author: Olga

An English teacher and translator, a keen traveller

2 thoughts on “Getting to Know Poznań and Saying Goodbye”

  1. Hi Olga,
    I’d typed a detailed postcrossing message answering your queries. Postcrossing blocked it considering it a spam. Please send me your email address so that I can mail it to you.
    Best wishes,
    Bishnu

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