Tag Archives: poland

Travel Tip: Szlak Orlich Gniazd (Trail of the Eagles’ Nests)

The Orgodzieniec Castle ruins by Mariusz Kucharczyk (Flickr, CC Licence)

The Orgodzieniec Castle ruins by Mariusz Kucharczyk (Flickr, CC Licence)

1.What is it?

A protected area  with 25 Medieval castles, often built on tall white rocks, by Kazimierz the Great, the Polish king. The trail itself is over 160 kilometres long and passes through all 25 castle sites, including the most famous Polish castle, the Wawel Castle in the heart of Kraków. Many of the castles were destroyed or damaged during the Swedish Invasion of Poland in the 17th century.

2. Where is it?

In the south of Poland, between Częstochowa and Kraków.

Pieskowa Skała Castle by Francisco Manzano (Flickr, CC licence)

Pieskowa Skała Castle by Francisco Manzano (Flickr, CC licence)

3.  Why bother?

The Trail of the Eagles’ Nests is one of Poland’s best and most picturesque trails. You don’t need to follow the entire trail, of course, you can just pick a castle and go there. The Pieskowa Skała Castle, for example (see above), is easily accessible by car and bicycle. It’s a stunning location, perched high on a tall rock, with lovely views and garden.

4. And you don’t want to miss…

… the Maczuga Herculesa (‘Hercules’s bludgeon’) rock. Called that thanks to its distinctive shape resembling a bludgeon. It’s located just a few minutes down from Pieskowa Skała.

5. Want to know more?

Watch the lovely promotional video (no, I wasn’t paid to show it, I just came across it on YouTube), created  to promote the region. Oh, and when you visit, go in the summer or early autumn…

How Europe has changed over the centuries

74 years ago today, just over 2 weeks after the start of the Second World War, Poland was invaded by the Soviet Russia.

A month or so earlier, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been signed and as a result Poland’s territories were divided, this time between the Soviets and Nazi Germany. The European borders were redrawn again.

A few days ago I came across an interesting video animation (see below). The video shows how Europe’s political map has evolved over the past thousand or so years. And while I cannot guarantee the video is completely accurate (although I have no reason to believe it isn’t), it shows how turbulent our collective history has been.

If you keep your focus on Poland in the centre of the screen, you’ll see how the borders have moved throughout the centuries. They changed their shape numerous times, expanded east, then shrunk again, then the name Poland disappeared completely before re-emerging after WWII with the country’s current borders.

A great crash course in the history of the continent.

Over 500 thousand Polish passport holders live in the UK

Image Copyright joellybaby via Flickr

Today’s papers quote the Office for National Statistics which claims that

“Between the year ending December 2003 and the year ending September 2010 the Polish-born population of the UK increased from 75,000 to 521,000″

It also claims that in recent times immigration of Polish people has declined:

Immigration was highest in 2007 at 96,000 Polish citizens, but this declined to 39,000 in 2009. Emigration has also decreased from 54,000 to 29,000 over the same time period.

But what’s really interesting are the employment figures:

In the first quarter of 2011 an estimated 82.1 per cent of Poles aged 16 to 64 were in employment, compared with a rate of 70.7 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Which to me suggests most people still come to work, and not to claim benefits as some would make you believe. I won’t go into detail how various papers decided to interpret the data – those of you who live in the UK can probably guess. Some of them claim that many Poles decide to return to the UK after failing to find jobs back in Poland.

Have you noticed a new influx of Polish migrants? Are the above figures credible - and more importantly, do they bother you?

Image Copyright joellybaby via Flickr

Poznan: Eastern energy, Western style

Another Polish city is about to pump some serious money into an international TV campaign to promote itself.

Poznan, one of the oldest Polish cities, for decades recognised as an important trade centre favoured by many Polish entrepreneurs, will be showing a series of ads across a number of TV channels in Britain and elsewhere.

Those behind the “Eastern energy, Western style” campaign want to make the city more recognisable abroad. But also, presumably, they want to present it as an important acedemic and cultural hub, on a par with Warsaw, Krakow or Gdansk.

And it is an important city, after all this is where Mieszko I, the first Polish ruler, was linked to Poznan and the first Polish cathedral was built here ten centuries ago. Poznan has always been seen as a dynamic, successful city and last year it launched a new logo and a new promotional slogan: “POZnan: the city of know-how”. (The capitalised POZ is how the city is recognised internationally in aviation).

The city’s mayor, Ryszard Grobelny, said the slogan reflected the character of the city’s inhabitants, their ability to do things skillfully and professionally.

The newest campaign is supported by a 3-minute long video shot by Xawery Zulawski, the son of Wojciech Zulawski, the famous Polish director, and his wife, Malgorzata Braunek, an actress.

You can watch the full version above, while shorter versions will be shown on Sky News, Sky Sports and CNBC in the UK, CNN internationally and on various channels in Germany, Spain and other countries.

Oh and if you ever wonder how to pronounce Poznan – or any other major Polish city – you know where to look for help ;)

From Poland With Love

My job here is done. Well, not really. But I’m glad to report others have also started discovering – and sharing – Poland beyond its sad history and stereotypical perceptions.

I just got an email from a production company inviting me to watch a video series about Poland called “From Poland With Love”. Yes, it might be a promotional vehicle for a particular sponsor, but it’s also a great series featuring some fantastic and less-known aspects of modern Poland.

In the above episode we get introduced to a Polish hip-hop performer, a ‘country’ band (watch out for their definition of country) and a Warsaw-based sculptor, Pawel Althamer, who relies on his neighbours from a working-class district of the city to help him create his elaborate art.

The series consists of five episodes in which a Swede, Ivar, travels up and down the country to discover places and people you hardly hear about.

You get to meet Edward Szwajkiewicz, a Solidarity member who fought the Communists, but also a modern Goth from Silesia. There’s a lot of clubbing and vodka drinking in Krakow, of course, but Ivar and his Polish side-kick Julita also make sure you get more than a glimpse of the beautiful Polish mountains and meet Trebunie Tutki, a fusion reggae band from Zakopane.

You can watch the entire series here – each episode is 8-10 minutes long and packed with some great stuff.

I loved it. It resonates with the Polski Blog and in a way, I’d like to think the series was made specifically for it…

It’s like the BBC, but from Poland

I’ve recently introduced you to a new Polish cultural site aimed at the English-speaking world, and here we have another one.

This time it’s all about the latest news.

thenews.pl is run by Poland’s equivalent of the BBC World Service, Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy. It’s published entirely in English and is mainly focused on Poland or Poland-related issues.

You can also listen to English-language bulletins there and the site also offers Polish press reviews translated into English.

If you are really into all things Polish, you’ll find their micro-site on the upcoming presidential election particularly useful.

I found the new site particularly useful during the recent floods. While the BBC and most British media outlets completely ignored the disaster (American and Middle Eastern news outlets seemed to be more interested), thenews.pl had regular updates on the situation.

And just out of curiosity: HOW MANY of you are actually interested in daily news about Poland in English and is the existence of such service justified? I’d love to read what you have to say.