Saturday, March 18, 2017

[POZNAN] Castle, Brewery, Bunnies

Visiting Poland became non-negotiable when I decided to move to Berlin this month. Poznan can be reached from the German capital in just three hours by bus, and some border cities even less than that. Going from capital to capital is also possible on the road, but I’m just not feeling a long road trip to Warsaw right now, which would’ve been another three hours of travel from Greater Poland’s capital. Booking a cheap return ticket via Polskibus, I left Deutschland on a Saturday morning for my Polish excursion.

Poznan played an integral role in the birth of the Polish nation, serving as its capital along with Gniezno. There are some noteworthy attractions here and there but the proximity of one from another is not that far to merit a few days of stay. Of course I am saying this with a backpacker’s mentality. If your sole objective is to collect cities to cross out from your Polish map, then a day trip of Poznan would suffice. As for me, I decided to stay over for the weekend to chill. And chill I did.

Comparing its weather to that of Berlin, Poznan seems to be enjoying the same moderately cool weather as per Google, except that I found out firsthand that it’s literally too chilly here. Perhaps the rain is to blame? I don’t even recall the sun making an appearance during the two days that I spent in this city. As expected, my adverse reaction to cold climes hindered my sightseeing activities. Even so, I think I was still able to see a lot of the main attractions during my stay. And which attractions are those, you ask?

I got off at PKS, which locals call Poznan Glowny. It’s one of the main bus stations in the city and is right next to a huge modern mall. There you can change your Euros to Zlotys because yes, Poland kept its own currency despite being part of the European Union. How much you get depends on the day’s exchange rate. My 5 Euros got me 20 Zlotys in return. From PKS, I suggest you take a stroll towards the direction of the old town. Loading Google Maps before I got off the bus, I saw some random castle or Zamek.

The imperial castle was constructed back in the early 1900’s during German rule, but it obviously no longer functions as such nowadays. There’s always an ambiguous line between a castle and a palace here in Europe, depending on what you think about the concept. Zamek Cesarski looks more like a palace to me, although its high walls do seem to fall under the category of defense. I don’t really know what’s happening inside those walls as of late, but one part of the castle has been converted into a movie house.

I had to chill in there for an hour or so because it suddenly rained so hard and the accompanying windpocalypse killed my umbrella. I was thinking maybe I should just see a film, but everything there was in Polish. When the downpour started to mellow down, I had the chance to take a stroll. The entrance to the castle’s garden is on the adjacent street. There you see the castle’s actual façade, which looks really regal in beige and blue. The garden is well-maintained, and the greenery matches the palace well.

The area is surrounded by buildings hosting a university. Most of them are also worth the photo-op. On the other side of the street is a square with a sculpture in the form of a cross, erected as a commemoration of the 1956 protests. It was time to get some food after all that walking, but first I had to locate the trams and buses. That’s when I stumbled upon a section of the sidewalk with big mirrors on it. They don’t seem to have a purpose other than aesthetic, injecting some postmodernist qualities to the older ones.

I ended up walking all the way to Stary Browar, which wasn’t that far to be honest. Poznan seems to be a really pleasant city for walking, when the weather is feeling cooperative. There are plenty of parks where you can just chill. In this weather, though, you will literally chill. And so I just rushed to get into that old brewery, which has now been remodeled to house a shopping mall. The motif for the month is bunnies, so don’t be surprised to see a mix of purple and white ones of different sizes.

You know I love malling, and Stary Browar looks kind of different from the malls I’ve been to thanks to its design. I did not get to see the entire mall because it was time to find my Airbnb place in Rolna. In the end, I just had late lunch at KFC and bought some take-aways for dinner later on. Suffice it to say that I’ve already found my default chilling spot if ever I relocate to Poznan. Tomorrow is reserved for the old city center as well as Park Cytadela up north, if I decide to include it in my itinerary that is.

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