Since our visit to Poland last year, we have been curious to see more of this beautiful and surprising country. The second trip there was to Łódź for a conference that Jit was speaking at. I thought it would be a nice introduction to the series of posts and videos if I shared some of my first impressions.
Before I start, let me share that despite the spelling, Łódź is pronounced “woodge”. I thought I would share that early on so that if I make any puns, you know what I mean!
Prior our visit to Krakow and Warsaw last year, we knew very little about Poland really. Of course we watched some YouTube videos, found things on Pinterest and grabbed a guide-book or two, but other than the ‘popular’ stuff, we really didn’t have any expectations. What we discovered far outweighed what we had seen and read. A country so green and lush, yet filled with a patchwork of modern and traditional architecture and art. It was the kind of place that gets my heart racing and my feet wandering. Having the chance to revisit and go to a lesser travelled place was a very exciting prospect.
Arriving in Łódź
Because of the location of Łódź we had to take a bit of a round about route to get there. (We also almost missed our bus too due to delays on our flight after a passenger went missing!) The journey from Warsaw Chopin airport to Łódź was a combination of far-stretching green fields and concrete hoarding. An unusual combination, but we were on the motorway.
After about two hours on the bus we pulled into Łódź Kaliska, the bus terminus and train station for the area. The air thick and warm we got our bearings so that we could walk to our Airbnb about another 30 minutes away.
The first thing that struck me was the street art. Not your run of the mill street art, but full wall murals. We later discovered that this was part of a citywide project working with different artists. I have to say that anywhere with street art to discover gets an instant tick in my book. We were off to t a good start with Łódź.
The main street
After quickly settling into our Airbnb in an urban residential part of town (it felt a bit like where we live in Manchester, only with courtyard flats rather than 1930s semis and terraces) we headed towards the main street. The light was going as we had arrived into the evening, but it meant that we were greeted with the most beautiful setting sun over the buildings.
One of the things that had come up a few times in our pre-trip research was that Łódź is also known as the Polish Manchester. OK, so they had street art, some rather neglected buildings some very rough and ready roads and some interesting statues. Tick. But then there was the main street. It was certainly no Market Street, that’s for sure! I was sure that there was plenty more to discover, but couldn’t quite see the resemblance from what we had seen to that point.
One thing for sure was there was a lovely calm vibe about the place. It could have been down to the intense heat of the day (and evening) but it was nice. People chatting over a drink (as were we), rollerblading with friends or cycling with family. The kind of city life you only dream of.
Grandeur and details
The day’s travel, cold beer and warm air started to take their toll, so we decided to head back to our flat. As we made our way down through the grids of buildings, we discovered not only more murals and art, but urban parks and play areas tucked between the tall buildings. As I looked up, I saw that there was much more to the buildings than meets the eye. Beneath the mesh netting you could see grand designs and stone carvings. Detail that you would normally expect on a National Trust property, not above a tiny convenience store.
Like the forgotten buildings of Manchester, I knew there was something waiting to be discovered. Wondering whether this was something that linked Łódź to Manchester, I decided to dig deeper in the morning.
Our Łódź home
Arriving at the urban park opposite our Airbnb for the few days of our visit, I felt quite at home. Although we had only been in Łódź for mere hours, it was a nice environment. Familiar in a way. I think because there were similarities to Manchester and the east of the city where we live. The forgotten parts of the Industrial Revolution, the lost grandeur of a city that lost its wealth, but somewhere that still had the charm that makes you want to stay. (Manchester has that affect on a lot of people – including me and Jit)
First impressions of Łódź
From the first few hours in the city of Łódź, the third city of Poland, I was hooked. It had plenty of things to pique my curiosity and I knew that the next day, guide-book in hand, I would be finding out a whole lot more about the Manchester of Poland.
However, sleep had to come first and we were certainly ready to refresh and reset from the day, dreaming of the adventures my next day would hold.
Have you visited Łódź? What do you think of my first impressions of the city?
Are you an urban explorer with a fascination for what lies beneath it all?
Let me know in the comments.