Lack of internet has messed with my mojo and I feel lost without it. No interaction, it’s like talking to myself, to which I get no sense at all! Nothing for it, a strong cup of coffee, a calorie uncounted breakfast and a direct plan of how to tackle this city.
Lodz which is actually spelt Łódź and pronounced Woodge (confused then join the queue) is certainly the sexiest industrial city we have ever seen. Its well cool and nothing like we expected. The second largest city in Poland, full of character, characters and contrast. Rich mingle with poor, warehouses with beaches, shabby alongside shiny, mansion around the corner from the slum, it is the place were opposites attract and it somehow works really well.
Right folks, imagine the one straight pedestrianised street that runs for several kilometres just lined with shops, bars and cafes. Along the way quirky bits like a neoclassic town hall, mansions and massive wall art. All surrounded by restored brick factories, warehouse and chimneys. If thats not enough you have parks, museums, ghetto’s and beaches. Something for everyone.
All along the Piotrkowska (main street) colossal buildings proclaim a industrial past – the opulent mansions tell the story of how this once fabric village attracted thousands. Workers from all over Poland flocked, as it became the centre for suppling cheap material to Russia and China. Despite the Russia rule the majority of the textile factories owners were German. The village soon developed in to a city with mansions and villas for the wealthy owners and its here were most the mansions stand, all looking much the same with grand colonial fronts, balconies and towering entrance columns.
One street back from Piotrkowska and it all feel very different. With such a huge influx of workers in a short space of time, it is no surprise the city soon developed peasants housing and slum quarters. In recent years Lodz has really cleaned things up but you still get a feel for those pockets whether it be shady characters, crumbling dwellings of bits of wasteland.
Back on Piorkowska and bike rickshaws zoom up and down the street transporting workers from one end of the street to the other. Along the way, the pedestrianised road is paved with 12,859 blocks with engraved names all in monument to its citizens. At the end the old town square, town hall just after the ghetto.
Lodz boomed as an industrial city and as years went by, a huge community of Jews settled in the city. Mainly traders with a mix of wealth. After WW1, Poland was no longer Russia and so it lost all the benefits of trade with the east and the city went in decline. The Nazi’s moved in and the we all know what that meant for the jews. Today, the ghetto remains with element inhabited but mainly boarded up and sectioned off. Lodz is home to one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe with around 400,000 graves.
Around the corner from the ghetto, the train station and orthodox church. Sadly sectioned off for renovation! It from here we heard a chap screaming. As we looked along the high street, we could see two policemen wrestling with a chap as they tried to calm him down. All a big disturbing, so we briskly cycled on.
A swift right to the most beautiful building, Lodzi Museum. I had a quick toot and Craig had an even bigger toot inside Lodzi museum. Free to visit the permanent exhibitions as long as you collect your handwritten free ticket before you pass go. Up the elaborate staircase, it was fabulous, vast, grand, full of paintings, furnishing, pianos and much much more.
Last but not least, the manufacture section and what a real wow. They have cleaned up and converted all the old mills in to a shopping complex but it feels so unique and cool. Some things inside and some out but right smack bang in the middle an open air beach bar. Not any bar, it has a massive beach with valley ball court, deck chairs, music, screen, palm trees. I just loved it.
Five minutes walk away from the manufacturer centre and you have a dodgy area with men drunk as skunks walking around like zombies. Such a contrast. To top it, we arrived back at Vin to find riot van at our side. No riot but clearly the police were planning their tactics for whatever is going down in Lodz. Shame really because this city has so much to offer and I do hope tourist eventually start to visit, it has a lot to offer.
Our Bumble Verdict: Lodz, excellent city, the contrast messes with your head but equally, it adds to the experience of its unique charm and character.
Time to move on before the riot squad return with a load of rioters! An hour or so later and we arrived in Czechochowa. Spotting a Tesco we popped in for a few bits only to exit and find it was night time. Now this might seem bazaar but we got so used to 24 hours of sunlight in Norway, we haven’t managed to adjust to only 12 hours on sunlight. When night arrives, it freaks us out and constantly surprises us. So we had to find a kip spot in the dark, a tad of a challenge. Not many options but as we have a special treat in store for tomorrow we spoiled ourselves with another campsite!
Our sleepy spot: Czechochowa, campsite on a slope. No idea what it is like until tomorrow. A nice surprise.
Paid Camping GPS position at Czechchowa N050.811381, E019.090938
Route: Lodz to Czechochowa