Thursday, 17 February 2011
Charlie's on holiday to Poland (2) - Zielona Gora
I landed in Berlin. That will be another blog post soon. Berlin, for those who have not been, is a great city, really beautiful, with a profound sense of history. But I headed by train to the town of Zielona Gora. A stop off on the way to Wroclaw, and it would be my first night in Poland.
All right, I am going to be blunt. There is not much in Zielona Gora. Really, it is a bit of a backwater, and in winter this is not the world's prettiest town. I should have come here in the summer, but such is the way of the world that I was in Poland in the winter. However, it makes a useful pit-stop if en route to the bigger towns in Western Poland and is a relatively painless place.
But, for all the things you could say about Poland, I have to admit that ZG is probably not my favourite place in the world, and certainly not a highlight when stopping off. A lot of it comes from history. A formerly German town that was given to Poland after WWII, bombed to smithereens during that conflict then reconstructed by the communists. While there is a lot of culture (in the summer) this is not a place to settle in the winter.
But to see a less visited side of Poland, this is probably it. Interestingly, there are no hordes of German kids coming to take advantage of cheap booze across the border, like the British would do if Poland was located next door to it. Or like the Americans to Mexico. In fact, there are very few tourists from Germany coming to this part of Poland at all.
ZG has its quirks however. The Polish, as I mentioned yesterday, do have a sense of humour. The wineries which surround the town and give the area its summer character has inspired odd bits and bobs throughout the town.
(The gnomes. You will see a lot more of these later on...)
But, I am not going to spend too much on this town. It is, what it is to the casual tourist. A quick stop off to the bigger attractions later on. And there are a couple. It breaks the journey well, and has all the facilities that a small Polish city (or a large European town) should have. Funky little eateries, an oversized shopping mall, and some great countryside that can be enjoyed in the summer!
Getting there and away:
In effect, this was one of the more tricky destinations to get to. From Berlin, there are no direct trains to Western Poland. You have to change in Rzepin and take another train towards Wroclaw, Krakow etc. Zielona Gora is the first big town after changing in Rzepin. A good break in the longer journey towards Wroclaw from Berlin.
But if you are going to come here, head over in summer. A Wine Fest (useless for the lightweight in me), Film Festivals and even a Music Fest dot the calender. Great countryside as well, and very importantly, not that many tourists...