Every time a foreigner asks me about my city, I am like ‘meh, forget! If you are in Poland, go to Krakow, Gdansk or Wroclaw’. Although I am born and raised in Lodz (Łódź), and really enjoy my life here, I still claim – there is not much of touristic value to it. I think that if you come here as a tourist, you could visit all the must-see points in one or maximum two days.
I guess that this post is a form of auto-therapy for me – I just needed to write it to convince myself that there is really SOMETHING worth recommending in my city!
- OFF Piotrkowska
In 2014, OFF Piotrkowska center was announced as a winner of 7 Miracles of Poland plebiscite by National Geographic and THAT MEANS something.
Old textile factory (my city was famous for textile industry in XIX-XX century) was converted into a trendy complex of more than 20 restaurants, bars, pubs, design shops and workshops, in the very center of the city. NG compared it to New York or Berlin, I just love its climate – postindustrial architecture, hipster style, unique atmosphere. It all makes it attractive to people of all ages. I go there to study, eat lunch or dinner, drink a beer, watch a movie in the open-air cinema in the summer, just seat on the bench, anything, anytime. Just love it.
- Student life
I study at International Faculty of Engineering, Lodz University of Technology. At some point of life, I considered moving to Warsaw to study at the best technical university in Poland, but doing my Bachelor totally in English and not paying for it seemed more convincing, so I stayed in my hometown. And I don’t regret.
Lodz has great conditions for students! Five public universities (technical, humanistic, medical, art, film, music) bring many young people to the city (no matter that they leave it just after graduation and Lodz’s population is aging since years). Many courses available in English, low (for European standards) costs of living, good and constantly improving opinion and the oldest School of Polish Language for Foreigners bring us many internationals too. For me it is the best what can happen to this grey society! If they are not brave enough (or can’t afford) to travel abroad and see that people are people everywhere, independently on their religion, language, culture and skin color, it’s great that this opportunity comes to them by itself! Maybe some percentage of the population will broaden their horizons, get rid of xenophobia and open their minds
That’s out of the way, but we have great music too! From Artur Rubinstein (my Father’s option), through Coma (band of my rebellious teenage years!) with a great vocalist Piotr Rogucki and even greater drummer Adam Marszałkowski, to Kamp! – young blood of Polish electronics. Not much to add, just listen to them by yourself. I bet that if they were recording abroad, they would already be famous worldwide.
4. Pasaż Róży
Pasaż Róży is the decoration created in one of the yards of the main street by a great Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska (other famous piece of ‘art’ is the palmtree in Warsaw city center). It’s a tribute to the artist’s daughter, suffering from eyes cancer and her way from being blind to seeing. The installation was mainly created by the group of students and was a part of Dialogue of Four Cultures Festival. There is not much to comment on – just take a look at the pictures. It looks gorgeous, reflects sunshine, makes a great impression at any time of the day and in any weather. End every time I show it to someone, they are in love, as I was for the first time.
We have quite many of them. I am a total fan! The city does not have that much money to renovate ALL of the grey buildings which are falling apart (Łódź is said to be in very bad state, lacking innovations, however it’s changing from my point of view), so it is great that at least they allow for the cheaper option – decorating them with the murals, inviting the artists from all over the world. It’s a way to make the city cosmetically more vivid and energetic! Here – my favorite ones, but you can spot so many more of them!
That is actually funny part. Łódź is the third biggest city in Poland (after Warsaw and Cracow), but hardly anyone from abroad knows about it. Why? Cause no one knows how the hell to pronounce its name. J
When I try to explain it to foreigners, I go for something between wood and image, to form anything close to woodge, but that is a very rough estimation.
- Miś Uszatek
Wrocław has its dwarfs (I think I’m gonna show them to you at some point, I’m going to visit friends there soon), Warsaw has the palm tree, Cracow has the dragon… And we have Miś Uszatek! Although it’s not the famous super production, it is a part of my childhood – animation made with little toys which you could watch every day at 7pm in public television. After that kids where supposed to go to sleep.
Since Łódź has a top-level Film School with the long tradition, many Polish movies (also animated) were directed and filmed here. And although today most of the TV are some crazy cartoons, we still have a couple of monuments reminding us of the series of our childhood.
- Piotrkowska street
Basing on The Independent’s description: At 4.2km, Piotrkowska is the longest commercial street in the country – and probably the most eclectic. From its northern tip at Plac Wolnosci (Liberty Square) to the junction with Pilsudskiego, you’ll find a hotchpotch of architectural styles from the neo-baroque House of Schiebler to Wilhelm Landau’s Bank House, adding some art nouveau into the mix. Then there’s “Holly-Lodz”, the city’s take on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame (it makes more sense if you remember how to correctly pronounce Lodz). Pavement stars honour Roman Polanski, a graduate of the city’s film school, and pianist Arthur Rubinstein.
For me it’s the center of the universe. This is where I go for my yoga classes and German course. This where I meet my friends. Eat lunches and dinners. Drink coffee and alcohol. Visit doctors and tattoo artists. Party. Do lots of shopping.
When it comes to nightlife, Łódź is the most convenient place ever! Most of the important nightclubs and bars are located there, on Piotrkowska. You don’t need to travel far away to change the party if you dislike the music or want to join your friends in a different venue!
And what do you like most about your city?
/// All the pictures come from Pinterest ///
I needed holidays. Not that I don’t need holidays any time you ask me J But now I needed them much more than usually, since Polish autumn is terribly gray, rainy, cold and does not influence my well-being positively. It was great to spend a couple of days in 25 degrees and the sunset coming around 7pm.
I am very lucky that my Mom does not drive a car and she needed a driver to take her for a road trip around the island – I had a chance to visit Lanzarote!
I don’t really understand why my Mother is so in love with the Canary Islands. It was great to be there for 5 days, enjoy the sun, lay down on the beach, drink sangria under palm trees and eat all the paella and tapas around, but I cannot imagine staying there for longer! It would be sooo boring! Unless you get an all-inclusive bracelet and have access to even more sangria…
There is not much more to my holidays than pure laziness, sunbathing, short swims in the ocean, 2 days of driving to the south and north sides of the island. I was astonished by Teguise – the old capital of the island, by Mirador del Rio – the viewpoint located high on the volcanic mountains with a great landscape, I loved the little sailors’ villages with all the shrimps and octopus I could eat. And I was super happy to drive – it turned out that you really do not forget it, although I have sold my car over 1.5 years ago and drove maybe twice since then. I also really enjoyed speaking Spanish – another thing I surprisingly do not forget.
There is not much to write about Lanzarote… Well, it’s not India 😀 Since I’ve already travelled and seen a bit of the world, my only comment is that it is funny to see a combination of the atmosphere of Maldives, architecture of Greece, society of southern Spain (fiesta siesta Spaniards & rich German tourists) with the Icelandic black deserts of volcanic ash and the horizon like on the moon.
One more thing – we should all learn to think positive from the Canarians. Whoever I asked ‘how is it to live in paradise’ told me ‘well, Lanzarote is amazing, but there are so many beautiful places all around!’. I bet that the standard Polish person would start complaining that it never snows and there are too many tourists.
I leave you with the gorgeous pictures – I am also lucky that my Mom is patient enough to contribute to the blog this way and take thousands of them (‘Mom! Help me do a head stand, that will look cool!’).
I think I have shared this news some time ago already on Facebook, but I will do it again properly.
When I came back from Sweden, all the memories were still vivid in my head (still are). I didn’t want to just let it go, and in the same time wanted to earn some money on blog – at least to finance the domain.
Eating breakfast with my Dad (it’s always a bizarre situation – he is always super active since 5-6 AM, while you cannot talk to me until the first coffee), I asked him courteously what is he reading. It turned out that he subscribed for the Polish magazine about traveling in Scandinavia – Zew Północy (The Call of North in my translation). I immediately contacted them and asked if they do not want to start some kind of cooperation. They offered me to co-write an article about the matches (yes, matches!) production in Jonkoping, as it is its capital in Sweden!
Here you can read the article in Polish, while below I put the English translation.
Matches Museum and not only
by Zuzanna Lisowska
For me – Biomedical Engineering student – Jonkoping was the symbol of my Erasmus programme dream coming true. City which grew up around the University – you can study there engineering, nursing, communication and teaching, or the courses in prestigious Jonkoping International Business School well-known worldwide. Multicultural and buzzing with student life. Additionally very well located – around 3h by car from Karlskrona, where the ferry from Gdynia arrives, with the beautiful landscapes and surroundings. Among the other attractions – one of the biggest lakes in Europe – Vattern, the Taberg hill, from where you can see the panorama of the whole Smaland region, or a quaint neighbouring village called Granna. It is famous from production of polkagris candies, because of which honey coming from this area is redish, as bees scavenge on the sweets left behind by kids.
Huskvarna is just nearby, together with its famous industry of chain sews and other electronics, but Jonkoping is still connected mainly to the matches industry. The buildings which used to accommodate Tandsticksfabriken – the factory producing the first safety matches in the world – are nowadays the cultural heart of the city. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, brewery (Idle beer is just delicious!), shops and workshops, but also a student club open every Wednesday – all this attracts both locals and tourists.
Tandsticksmuseet is still the main tourist attraction. It is apparently the only matches museum of this kind in the world!
– I guess there are some other museums presenting the history of matches… But as far as I know, we are the only museum specializing in this topic – Bo Levander, museum’s educator, shatters all the misconception about the Jonkoping Matches Museum.
The museum is open all year long, the entrance ticket costs 50 SEK (http://www.matchmuseum.se). What can you see there?
– Tandsticksmuseet shows how Jonkoping and Sweden in generally, were gaining its industrial character. We have stories of the workers and about how their lives looked like. On the ground floor you can see traditional workers room, which shows their every day life. We display the films about the greatest machinery, which throughout the years revolutionized the production process. We also have many animated movies, showing how it worked. We tell the story of the King of Matches – Ivar Kreuger, who popularized this business worldwide. In the museum you can see hundreds of matchboxes, labels and many other exhibits – encourages Bo Levander.
– And the machines which we have in Tandsticksmuseet are the first of this kind of machinery in the worls, and surely they are unique! – he adds.
Zuzanna Lisowska – a traveler, who has visited over 30 countries, a blogger (http://www.suzanaindiana.com), a student of International Faculty of Engineering at Lodz University of Technology, participant of Erasmus programme in Sweden, where she has spent half a year. She got contracted with passion for Scandinacia by her Dad – an engineer and traveler.
I am very grateful towards Zew Północy team for the work we have done together. It was a pleasure and an honour! And what is more – we do not stop here. I am soon about to write another article, which is gonna be published on Spring… Stay tuned!
On Wednesday I decided to become one of those lazy tourists, not a traveller, and bought a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus, to be more effective while sightseeing.
After the breakfast in the bus with Merve on her way to work, and a coffee and my favorite orange juice near Sultanahmet Square together with one of maaany kitties I would like to take home, I boarded the bus and, crossing the city center, went to Istanbul Modern Art Museum.
I am not a museum person. It sounds bad, but I would rather spend 10 euros on a good dinner than entering the historical or archeological museum (I just hate them), but I am really keen on modern art. I really admire how creative some people are! And I was lucky, cause I also could take part in Istanbul Biennale exhibition, which also made a good impression on me.
Afterwards I took a long route by the bus – crossing some interesting districts of the city, going through the bridge to the Asian side and a palace. Then I needed to take an Uber, cause the bus did not go to the place where Merve and Sevnur recommended me to go to it – Ortakoy. There is one particular street there, where they sell huge (bigger than your head!) baked potatoes with various feelings. I went for cheese, butter, olives, corn and couscous. It was great! Another typical thing is a huge waffle – with Nutella, fresh strawberries and bananas. I was so full afterwards!
I walked a bit to burn calories and took a bus again, to check the northern part of the city where many mosques and museums are. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go to Miniaturk – museum of miniature sculptures of famous Turkish buildings, as I was supposed to meet friends back in Sultanahmet (or SultanMehmet, as I kept calling it) Square.
Esmerjan was my Erasmus student back in Lodz around 2 years ago. He comes from Albania, but studies Marketing in Turkey and speaks many languages. He is also my twin brother – the only person I know who is born on 10/09 like me! Unfortunately he just had one hour for me (business meeting with a girl with nice long legs xD), but we managed to keep up with our lives quite a lot.
Then I met Kemal – lovely Turkish guy whom I met, like Merve, in Sweden during my Erasmus. We attended quite a few courses together and it was very funny not to see him there. He was one of a few people who – during their stay in Sweden – spent more time abroad than in Sweden, travelling with their fresh Schengen visa.
Kemal was in tourist guide mode, but unfortunately it was evening already and my legs hurt, so we just went to Grand Bazaar and next sat down in a nice coffee shop on the rooftop, with nargile and panorama view for the whole city. He also took me for dinner, but Turkey is not a place for vegetarians. Hummus with vegetables and roasted eggplant salad (from cold starters page of the menu) were the only non-kebab things.
Afterwards Merve, who left work super late, joined us and we started pre-partying. It was so great, it almost felt like Sweden again! Especially that we headed for the Erasmus party. Akademien (club in Sweden) – Istanbul edition! We also planned to feel like Erasmus again and decided to pretend to be Russian, Spanish and Portuguese for this night, but no one spoke to us :(.
Both clubs we have been in had inbuilt auto-selection: they were located in narrow old-school buildings on stone streets. Dance floors were located on 4 floors. If someone was too drunk, they would never make it inside!
Second party turned out to be even more Erasmus, due to the high extend of body fluids exchange between the swingers, but it was fun anyway 😀 Music was great too!
We were so lucky that Kemal has his car in Istanbul and his stomach does not handle alcohol, as he drove us all the way back home. However we promised each other that the next time we finish the party in his hometown – Antalya, which is the Miami or Hawaii of Turkey.
Next day – surprise surprise – we woke up very late and very dead, but Merve needed to go to school and I needed to be productive.
I visited the Hagia Sofia museum (very impressive, it’s so cool knowing that it was built around 500-600 years A.C.!), Basilica Cistern (lame, just a huge dark basement with water on the floor and weird smell), didn’t succeed to visit Tokapi palace (due to the huge line) and Ataturk palace (as it was closed). I ate a great grilled fish with salad in bread, though! Turkey is not only about kebab.
In the afternoon I met Merve in the district called Taksim – really modern and hipster place, full of tourists, young people, book markets, coffee shops and lovely architecture. We walked a lot (according to my iPhone I was doing at least 15 km in Istanbul every day!) and entered Galata Tower with a huge crowd and impressive view. It was the first time for Merve too!
Next she forced me to eat Turkish dessert – super sweet Baklava made of pistachios. I was so afraid that they added some walnuts by mistake, but I kept eating it even the next day in the flight.
We also drunk a couple of beers and gossiped a lot about how handsome the Turkish waiters are.
We came back home exhausted. Again I almost slept in the bus! And people were staring at me like in India, as I was sitting on the floor… Well, it is normal in India but not in Europe! By the way – I have no idea what Turkish people do with their lives… No matter what time it is, the buses and trams are FULL. And the solution for that would be to introduce more buses into circulations… But they already come every minute! Good that Lodz is not like this, I would get crazy.
Merve’s mum gave us a delicious veg dinner and I finally liked Ayran – Turkish yoghurt. I think it was just original, not like a strange waterish substance I tried in Sweden. I still hate Raki – the herbal alcohol, though.
I slept early as I needed to wake up at 4:30 next morning… My flight to Bucharest and then Warsaw was at 10, but getting from European side of Istanbul to the airport on the Asian side is more complicated than getting from Lodz to Warsaw…
Luckily my travel went pretty smooth, I just needed to pay 10 USD for 2 additional kilograms in my luggage… If that poor lady knew about my other backpack which I was hiding behind the counter not to pay for it… 😀
It felt good to be in European Union in Romania! I could call my parents and not worry about the cost, as the roaming in UE is not charged extra since this summer. And I was laughing at Elizka when she called me from Amsterdam on her way back from India, but she was right: people in Europe are tall and white, everything smells nice and the real workers are working on real work! It was nice to be back in safe, developed and comfortable environment (although after India Istanbul was very European too! I wonder what would be my opinion if I came there directly from Europe, not from Asia).
I landed in Warsaw at 14:25 and happily taken ModlinBus back to Lodz!
Yes, it is happening! The graceless kid is coming back to her homeland for the period longer than 2 weeks for the first time in 2017! And of course – directly to attend Latino party!
I just love Turkey, Turkish people, Istanbul!
The flight from Asia was exhausting. First – 12 hours from Bangkok to Kiev. – I am a vegetarian. – Then we have nothing for you! and other situations (I have never seen so unpleasant flight attendants like in Ukrainian International Airlines), I was finally in Europe, just 1000 km from home. The air felt so fresh, cool and clean finally after 3 months!
Transit in Kiev and flight to Istanbul were a circus too. It turned out that there was some important Jewish celebration in Kiev this weekend, so all of them were just coming back home… I have nothing against, but why the hell they start praying exactly when the flight attendant tells them to sit down and fasten their seatbelts?! The flight was 2 hours late when Merve finally picked me up from the airport.
I have so many great Turkish friends! During this week I am staying with Merve, to whom I met on my Erasmus exchange in Sweden, and her family. Her parents do not speak much English, but some traces of Russian we all had were kind of helpful. I was so happy about my refugee camp on their sofa!
After I dealt with 5 hours jet lag, I went to explore Istanbul. Merve had to be in school this day.
First I visited the famous Blue Mosque – which surprisingly turned out not to be blue at all. I also went around, seen Haga Sofia museum and palace from the outside, got to know an offer of the Big Bus city tours (with a proposal of my new Turkish husband who were selling the tickets) and then my friend Sevnur joined me.
We met over a year ago during my internship in Germany, now she got permanent job there and hopefully will screw me in, too. I was so happy to see her after such a long time!
We walked around a lot, have seen some more mosques and Grand Bazaar, finally took a boat trip around the Bosforus Gulf. It was amazing 2 hours of sightseeing and talking. And again I got terribly sunburnt, ehh, white people life…
Afterwards we ate a great late lunch – fish in bread and 3 kinds of eggplant in different sauces, as well as those Arabic ‘spring rolls’ made of rice in grape leaves. It was so good, we couldn’t move afterwards.
Sevnur had to go back to Asian side, where she lives, but I went further to meet my friend Selim, other intern from India, for some beers and nargile (that’s how they call shisha here). It was so nice and Besiktas is such a great party part of the city!
I went back home, falling asleep in the bus, and was more than happy to see little baby Merve again, still working hard on her homework in pyjamas.
I slept so long again, apparently jet lag was not gone yet. Communicating the basic words like coffee and pilates I spent the morning with Merve’s parents and then went to pick her up from school.
We ate a huuuge brunch in quiet residential area and went to explore the Asian part of Istanbul. It was so nice to cross the bridge between Europe and Asia by bus! And I am so happy than my lovely Merve found time to spend this day with me, it was so lovely. We were coming back to Sweden in most of the conversations… We both really miss that time!
We got off in Kuzguncuk and walked around a lot. It is such a nice place! Full of quaint coffee shops, impressive architecture and many many cats! I wanted to take them all.
Then we took a bus and went to the Bosforus Gulf coast to drink tea and watch the boats passing by near the Girl Tower. It is situated in the middle of water and the legend says that the princess was put there by her father, as it was said that her destiny is to be killed by the snake. The girl was safe there but some woman sneaked the snake hidden in beautiful apples and she got killed anyway. Just another city story!
Afterwards we took another bus and went to Kadikoy. It was so cool and hipster! We walked around, drunk a beer near the seaside, I bought the most original fake New Balance shoes of Istanbul and some other fancy souvenirs: a power bank in the shape of unicorn, a watch with The Little Prince quote, the lenses for iPhone camera. And I made another of my crazy plans come true.
It took us looong time to come home from Asia to deep Europe, but we were welcomed by typical Turkish mum with a huge dinner (first meal after even more huge breakfast).
My second day in Thailand was amazing too! Having a long morning and talking to some new people in the hostel, I was very relaxed and motivated to again see as much as I can.
I took a taxi (very cheap one) from the hostel to meet Anshisa – my little Thai girl (she is literally half of me in every dimension) I’ve met in India. Obviously the driver did not speak English so he took me to some other place, nearby luckily, where I needed to ask locals to call Anshisa and explain her where I am and where should she collect me. Like a baby lost in a supermarket!
When we finally met, we went to Chatuchak (or JJ) Weekend Market – full of EVERYTHING you can imagine. Putting limits on my shopaholism is not the easiest thing to achieve in Thailand with these prices… I bought two more gorgeous shirts and a wallet with my name.
And if yesterday I wrote that my day was all about eating – FORGET. Today was crazy! We ate literally on every corner, just because I wanted to try everything – from spring rolls, through all the seafood and rice, to very weird Thai deserts of strange colors and texture.
After the Chatuchak market we took a taxi, which took almost one hour (Bangkok is so big and crowded also on weekends!), to the famous Floating Market – Khlong Lat Mayom. And yes, it was mostly about food again! We decided to share everything we eat, and ended up filled up to the nose again. After all the sea-grass and papaya salads and coconut pudding with dried jack fruit, together with the dragon fruit, which Anshisa brought me from home, we took a boat trip and it was so great!
First of all – it was cheap. When I have seen the similar tour in the travel agency in the center, the price was 1800 Bhat (around 55 USD). Buying the ticket directly on the market, where all the boats reach anyway, costed 100 Bhat for me and 40 for A., as a Thai citizen.
The boat was supposed to take us to the temple and to the orchid garden. Unfortunately the latter one had to be cancelled, because it started to rain heavily during our trip. Being in the boat and watching all the local life going on around was cool too, though. I was just super-afraid of all the monitor lizards (warany z Komodo. Nie, jeszcze nie wyginęły!) – they can swim, they were everywhere around in the river, they have at least 2m length and 70kg of weight, look like the chimera of dragon, lizard, snake, crocodile and dinosaur. It was soooo creepy!
After the trip we took another taxi, another one-hour ride to the other side of the city – Chinatown. It was so funny to see Thai and Chinese cultures blended together! Although it was not as impressive as Chinatown in London, we again ate a lot of good food and went on the 25th floor of Grand China hotel to see the panoramic view of the city. Prices killed us, though, so we shared one cocktail just to enjoy the view.
Later on Anshisa’s boyfriend joined us, so obviously we ate some more Pad Thai, walked a bit around and took a tuk tuk back.
Anshisa wanted to do an experiment – I asked for the price of the tuk tuk and was told 300. When she asked for the same destination in Thai, it was just 150… Very racist!
We went back to my hostel and hang out a bit in the common area with all the other travelers I was seeing there before. Really nice French lady on her lonely travel (she planned to do it with her boyfriend but then they broke up so she decided to be strong independent woman!) and Swiss-Austrian hippie couple, as well as some Greeks (have you ever seen them out of Greece?! I realized I haven’t!).
I can totally recommend my hostel in Bangkok! It is called Hidden Lumpu and is located in the center of everything – near Pom Phra Sumen – walking distance to all the important points of the city. The owner – Tony – works as flight attendant, so couldn’t meet me when I arrived cause he was flying back from Japan. The next evening he was called to go to Munich, but he was like ‘Maaaan, I am drinking with these nice guests… Give me tomorrow-morning shift, not now!’.
After a couple of drinks it was much easier to pack my even bigger luggage (why the hell did I buy so much in Bangkok?! And Istanbul is still left…). I went to sleep to wake up early in the morning and catch the flight through Ukraine to Turkey.