I went to Poznań for the weekend, well, 24 hours and 19 minutes…
I left home just after 07.00 on Saturday and, despite the Stansted Express being more like a local stopping train and then the chap at the bag-drop losing my boarding pass and having to print me another, I touched-down at Poznań Airport at 13:31 (UK time). The bag-drop guy had scanned my boarding pass to print the label for my bag but when he went to hand it back to me with my passport it had mysteriously disappeared, he then asked me if I had given it to him, “Yes,” I said, “you scanned it.” He looked at the label which he had just printed, shrugged and said he would print me a new boarding pass, which he then did and you can be sure that I scrutinised it thoroughly along with the bag label as he attached it to make sure that they were for the right flight…
Anyway, I got there.
I walked out of the airport into a bright sunny day, got to my hotel, checked-in, left my bag in my room and went to Stary Rynek (the old market square) and then up to Plac Wolności (Freedom Square), camera in hand, just on the off-chance of some interesting photography opportunities. Did I say it was a bright sunny day? It was about 25°C, the sky was cloudless. Not bad for the first day of April (no, this isn’t an April Fool’s story). I returned to the hotel, changed from travelling clothes to concert clothes which isn’t really much of a change to be honest, and went down the road to Fermentownia, a rather splendid multi-tap bar for a couple of cold beers.
Na lewo, na prawo.
Time to go to the concert, I’d memorised the route to the concert venue, it wasn’t far, these things always look further on the map than they are in real life; up ul. Fredry, across the railway, right into Roosevelta, left into Poznańska, right, left, 200m, and bingo! Klub U Bazyla. It was 18.28, the doors were advertised to open at 18.30, I congratulated myself on my timing.
When I was crossing the railway bridge at the top of ul. Fredry I had noticed first a lot of people sitting at tables next to the railway line, then a large concrete built signal box, with people inside it; no longer a signal box but a bar/restaurant, now this was my kind of bar but unfortunately I wouldn’t have time to visit it, ah well, another entry on the “next time” list.
The concert started just after 19.00 and went on until 23.00, four bands, three of which I had seen before (Beyond The Event Horizon, Art Of Illusion, Abstrakt) and one, the headline act (Votum), which I had not seen. The heat of the day lingered and one or two (maybe three of four) more beers were consumed. The band I was most interested in seeing was Beyond The Event Horizon and as I have documented, I had a failed trip to see them back at the end of February.
Afterwards there was general chatting with band members, who were surprised and delighted that I had come all that way just for the one night, just to see them. The keyboard player from “Beyond The Event Horizon” was most impressed at my journey. Thank goodness for cheap, no frills air travel.
I walked back to the hotel and had to ring the night bell to get in; it was past one in the morning. A very chirpy young lady came to the door and let me in, smiling and saying “Dobry Wieczór” as she did so, I gave a smile and a “Dziękuję” in return and went to my room.
Ale śniadanie piekne jest
I was staying in a small establishment called “Hotel Stare Miasto“; I’ve stayed there before, a few times. It’s nothing special, four stories high, maybe an old town house; the rooms are adequate in that they each contain a bed and a bathroom, TV, chairs, table… The real beauty of this hotel though is the restaurant and the breakfast. Being an Englishman, I’ve grown up with the idea that breakfast means a bowl of cereal or maybe “Full English” but the Polish notion of breakfast is quite different. Cold hams and salami, cheeses, olives and feta, pickles, salad, hard boiled eggs, various kinds of delicious breads, fruit juices and the ubiquitous coffee. I must admit to being quite smitten with the Polish idea of breakfast.
Hotel Stare Miasto has an alarm clock; it’s in a fairly quiet location on ul. Rybaki but at the appointed time of the morning the first tram of the day rumbles past along ul. Strzelecka just around the corner. It’s not an intrusive sound but once you get your ear in, so to speak, you can’t miss it.
After I’d eaten my fill, I went out for a walk about before having to go to the airport. It was another lovely day and the heat was already rising. In the Stary Rynek there were lots of wooden kiosks set-up, I had seen them the day before, some sort of Easter Market, but unfortunately none of them were open yet. I navigated the narrow cobbled lanes off of the market square, looking again for the elusive photo opportunity.
Returning to the hotel, I collected my bag, checked out and walked up to the railway station to do a spot of train spotting; the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a bit of gricing.
I went to the taxi rank and got into a taxi, I said “Dzień dobry” (Good day) to the driver, he said “Dzień dobry” back.
I then asked, “Czy pan rozumiesz po angielsku?” (do you understand English?)
He grimaced and shook his head, “Nie” he said, “ale pan rozumie po polsku.” (No, but you understand Polish), the beginnings of a smile on his face. Oh, the fun of having just a little of the language. He then admitted that he did know a little English, I told him (in Polish) that I knew only a little Polish, we laughed.
E bah passport gum
I had misjudged my timing a bit and spent the next hour or so waiting for the bag drop to open, oh the joys of sitting around in an airport. Eventually the desk was open, the bag was dropped, no shenanigans with boarding passes this time and I proceeded to security. The flight left on time at 14.50 and arrived at Stansted around 15 minutes early, splendid I thought.
Then the next hour or so was spent negotiating the various stairways, escalators and corridors that Stansted is heir to followed by the inevitable queue for the ePassport gates (surely one of the worst things ever to have come out of Yorkshire). We all marched to and fro within the confines of the roller ribbon things delineating our path until the gates were reached. The ePassport gates usually work for me, only once have I had to go and visit a real person to get back into the country but as you are queueing to get to the gates there is usually a steady stream red lights and people being advised to go to desk so-and-so.
Crossing the border I collected my bag and made for the Stansted Express platforms only to witness a train pulling out as I descended the final flight of the escalator. Not to worry, there was another in the other platform and soon we were on our way; I sat back and watched Essex slipping past the window.
At Liverpool Street I made my way to the Metropolitan Line platforms and got onto the first train which came in, a Circle Line train for Hammersmith which I rode until Baker Street, just for the experience of struggling up the stairway which says “THIS SIDE UP” against the relentless flow of people trying to come down it. Next time I’m there I really must check to see if there is a corresponding “THIS SIDE DOWN” sign at the top. The Chesham train was indicated as being in 5 minutes time, splendid, I thought again.