by Alex in Toulouse
Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 11:22:27 AM EST
A very short "on the road" diary about my trip East (with a few pics).
Back from Poland yesterday.
I started my trip with the 3 day Open'er festival in Gdynia with a lot of big scene names like Manu Chao, Franz Ferdinand, Placebo, Basement Jaxx etc etc. But I only really saw the groups on the first day as after that we partied on the parking lot with Poles and Lithuanians we met. (which made me and my buddy think that next year we'll just take the parking ticket and skip the festival zone entirely).
The parking had thousands of cars, some people camped in tents in another section. We had a camping car so no need for a tent. Few cars were from the West, but there were a lot of Czechs, Russians, etc etc. And it was interesting to see all of Europe's Eastern youths (should I say central, Dodo?) speaking together in English.
Manu Chao was impressive, and his repeated "Thank you Polska" and repeated interpretations of Clandestino's line "Marijuana illegal" got him a lot of cheers from Poles raising fingers holding fat grass joints in the air.
A few pics, including of the beach nearby:
Then we went to a Baltic sea resort:
Then down to Toruni, headquarters of the Catholic church and the influential Radio Marija (and home to Copernicus):
Then on to Lodz, the most broken city in Poland that also has the best bar in the world, the Lodz Kaliska Klub (click on the outdoor and level buttons on top to see what it looks like):
Then on to the mountains, near Zakopane, through Krakow:
Then back to Lodz. Which is probably the biggest city in the world not to figure in the Guide du Routard guide book (they say there is nothing interesting to see in this 1 million inhabitant city).
My quick thoughts on Poland:
Poland is an unfairly depreciated country here in France. People imagine a broken down country, where people travel on horseback and have no electricity. I'm exagerating, but when I told friends here I was going to Poland, they all seemed surprised ("why don't you go to Portugal/Greece/Spain/Italy" (etc) ) It's a complex country, with varied landscapes and people.
To be trendy in Poland means to be a centrist (left wing is bad, right wing is bad). Most hippie girls and rasta boys we met said they went to church at times, but - and this is another trendy thing apparently- do not appreciate the church's meddling in political affairs. I also had many conversations on Communism and Capitalism with many youths. They accused France of being too communist. My take was that in both systems 10% of the people exploit 90% of the others - but capitalism is probably better because you can make it out of the 90% and into the 10%. Generally. Is that good? Don't know. But I did see some positive aspects of communism in Poland (public transport for example).
And a lot more wild advertising than in France (see top picture in this diary).
Most of the hypermarket distribution outlets are French, I have no idea why (ie. Carrefour, Bricomarché etc):
Drinking seems to be generalized. Weddings rarely have wine or beer, generally only vodka that even the grandpas will drink. I've also never seen so many drunken blondes in bars in my life, which is frankly amazing.
None of the youths I met (and I met heaps) understand why the twins' party won the elections. They are disappointed to have such a right-wing conservative bunch in control. Here is a picture of a political party ad you see all over the place (a party in the government coalition), it reads: "family work poland", which reminds me of Vichy's slogan.
In the Ruda neighbourhood of Lodz, a broken down, social case/alcoholic part of town, there are graffitis everywhere by the town's two football team fans. Each time one fan writes the initials of his team, a fan from the opposite team writes a Star of David on top of it. So it seems that stupidity exists in Poland too.
Finally, a lot of the socialist buildings look like French social buildings. Except these are in the center of town and are perceived as good/high standard. Which means it's not the architect's fault in France - but we already knew that. Also to be noted, all the workers on highways for instance are white.
Ok I'll write in more detail later, I need to get back to Frenchness for now. In the meantime I quickly went out and bought a Polish language CD-Rom today so that I can learn the language before going back this year or next, so that I can seduce the barmaid of the Lodz Kaliska Klub, who is my idea of the perfect woman.