I think that there might be a risk that today’s post may well be more foodie than travelogue. My hosts are keen for me to sample everything Szczecin has to offer and so that is what I have to work with.
As I said yesterday the eating habits of the Poles, or at least those I visited, are very different to my own. With no lunch taken I was offered a “second breakfast”, again brought by my host for me, to try during the day. Firstly this consisted of a savoury wrap with vegetables and the inevitable gherkins. This was followed by a sweet pancake filled with a white substance that I couldn’t identify.
Late afternoon we took the tram back into the city. There’s something exotic about trams, even the ones in Birmingham, but when they are abroad they seem positively cosmopolitan. The trams in Szczecin are no exception and I greatly enjoyed get from place to place on them. Especially the old yellow Berlin trams which had a bit of character.
We visited Pierogarnia Kaszubska to sample another local delicacy, Kashubian dumplings which are potato based and stuffed with a variety of fillings but the tastiest were those with meat. They very much reminded me of the gyoza dumplings that you can get here. They came warm with an onion sauce and were very tasty.
The dumplings were warmer than the welcome we received. I’m told, as this passed me by not speaking the language, that the woman behind the counter didn’t want to take one order for the two of us but do us individually. This would have been challenging as despite the menu being in English she was not going to accept it in any language other than Polish. So two orders were duly placed and then I pissed her off a second time by having the cheek of paying with too large a note. Thing was she opened the till to reveal a mass of notes of all denominations so I suspect she was just being difficult!
Finally we went up what I am reliably informed is the highest building in Szczecin and the cafe at the top, Cafe 22. Twenty two stories is not really that high but it was the tallest building that I could see across the city by some considerable margin. By this point I think we were both full and so just restricted ourselves to tea.
So that’s my time done here and I flew out of the tiny airport which only has two international gates. Szczecin airport must be the only airport in the world named after a union as it is called Solidarity. Can you imagine the GMB Heathrow Airport? Nope me either. What is universal though is the grumpiness of the border guards. On the way in there is no welcoming “welcome to our country” smile and on the way out they don’t seem pleased that you are leaving either. There’s no pleasing some people.
I liked Szczecin but I’d have liked to have seen more of it in the light, so that’s a job for next time.
All my previous travel posts have been documenting our adventures while we have been on holiday so this post is a little different as at the moment I am away on business.
Travelling for business doesn’t always make for the most interesting of trips. Often you are on the outskirts of town on some business park seeing only the inside of an office and a hotel room. However, on this flying visit to Szczecin in Poland I have managed to get out and about to sample the local architecture and cuisine.
I got up this morning to find that lovely great big flakes of snow were falling and settling. In the UK this event would have caused chaos but the plucky Poles were going about their business travelling to work, school or wherever without any problem whatsoever – it was a sight to behold. And so I was able to take the tram (bought secondhand from Berlin apparently) and get to my destination where I spent the day in the office.
It’s always interesting to see how countries not far from your own differ and the culture shock here is the Poles eating habits. I was told that they don’t do lunch in the same way that we do in the UK but something much more like grazing. So a big breakfast and a snack at 11, again at between 2 and 4, and then a meal in the evening. To be honest I do that AND have lunch at 12! So today lunch consisted of gherkin soup kindly provided by my host’s wife.
This evening we went to what was a up-market Spudulike where fillings included a very tasty grilled chicken and broccoli option which would have been very healthy were it not for the cheese sauce. More interesting was a visit afterwards to Bar “Pasztecik” to sample local delicacy Pasztecik szczeciński. This is a like a doughnut with a meat filling, served hot in a simple paper wrapping clearly designed to eat on the go. It wasn’t unpleasant but there was such a small amount of meat in it that really it just tasted like a doughnut! The place itself was interesting too as it clearly hasn’t changed much since it opened 50 years ago. There was a cash desk by the door where you paid. Running the length of the wall was a brightly coloured mosaic leading to a hatch at the back of the room to exchange your receipt for the goods.
Later I walk out from the hotel and did a loop around some of the sights of Szczecin. I had particularly wanted to see the Philharmonic Hall which is the building in the header picture. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen, it almost looks like a temporary structure. Some of the pictures I have seen of the hall the place was lit with coloured lights. Tonight it was only white but no less impressive.
I then walked down to the river and then back up to the Ducal Castle and then past one of the many churches here. I would have lingered longer but it was cold and by this time my hands, which had been out of my pockets taking pictures, were frozen. I’m hoping tomorrow that I might also be able to see some of these place in the light.