Tag Archives: warsaw

Celebrate Frederic Chopin’s birthday

Frederic Chopin statue in Warsaw © Patrick F via Flickr

This one is for music lovers planning a trip to Warsaw.

To mark the bicentennial of Frederic Chopin’s birth (yes, he was Polish), the Polish capital has published a Chopin audio city guide.

Available in eight languages, the guide will take tourists to some key locations related to the great pianist.

You can download the audio guide from Warsaw City Hall’s website (in English and other languages) or you can get in while walking through the capital as there will be several ‘music banks’ with special codes, which you can scan using your mobile – and get the audio files this way.

If you are a Chopin fan, you’ll be pleased to know that next year over 2,000 evens are planned across the globe to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth – and over half of them will take place various cities across Poland.

Just remember that – as Chopin was born to a French father and Polish mother – his name will often be spelt in two different ways in Poland. Frederic Chopin is the internationally recognised spelling of course, but Poles will refer to him as Fryderyk Szopen. The pronunciation is similar, just swap the French accent for a Polish one ;)

So, if you haven’t been yet, it looks like 2010 might be a good year to visit Poland at last!

Frederic Chopin Statue in Warsaw – image © Patrick F via Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

Poland’s recycled style

New York Times

So here’s something for all you fashionistas. A good article in today’s New York Times about Poland’s latest fad – second hand shops:

Thrift stores here have become impromptu laboratories of the changing mores and attitudes in a country adjusting to newfound wealth. Young Poles here in the capital are now confident enough in their ability to buy new clothes that they at last have taken to wearing old ones. Those eking out a living on fixed incomes, especially retirees, still lack the means to do otherwise.

But until recently, second-hand shops in Poland were frowned upon. One wouldn’t like to be seen shopping in them. NYT explains why it was so and why this attitude has changed now:

The pronounced stigma of buying used clothes in a poor country was once a powerful deterrent for shopping — or at least admitting to shopping — at secondhand stores, known here by the derogative colloquialism lumpex, which translates as something like bum export. That stigma has been replaced among the young by a playful attitude toward vintage clothing and bargain-hunting that would not be out of place among their contemporaries in London or New York.

The whole article is really more about social issues really than fashion. Well worth a read if you’ve got a spare moment.

One quote from the piece struck me as this is something many of my friends who’ve been to Poland observed too:

“Older ladies here are proud and so fashionable,” said Ania Kuczynska, 33, a fashion designer in Warsaw. “You can see that they aren’t very rich, but they’re elegant and they have their own style.”

They would never ever wear a soiled polyester Arsenal T-shirt with trackies, she is saying. I think.

Cities and their names – polish your Polish, part 6

Kraków? Cracow? Krakow? How on earth do you spell it? (Kraków) But more importantly, how do you pronounce it? Don’t fret – that’s why you have the Polski Blog ;) Today just a bunch of cities, starting with the more popular ones.

Kraków

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has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, and it’s still a nice alternative to Prague, which – although beautiful – is often overcrowded, overpriced and over the top. Definitely, one of my most favourite places on the planet.

Warszawa

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is the capital of Poland, and for many the first and only city they see in Poland. If you don’t like it, remember it was almost cmpletely flattened during the Second World War and then rebuilt by the Soviets. Pretty it ain’t, hence it may be worth jumping on a train and going north to

Gdańsk

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The largest Polish port forms part of the so-called tri-city. A city with rich, often dramatic history, also partly destroyed during the world, but luckily beautifully rebuilt. Forms part of a so-called tri-city, a large metropolitan area with

Gdynia

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and

Sopot

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In the southern, or actually south-western part of the country

Wrocław

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has become a very popular tourist destination. Kraków has always been very popular, but in recent years I’ve heard quite a few stories about Wrocław and how dynamic, attractive it has become. Yet another city in Poland, which, over the centuries, has been a part of Germany, Prussia, Austria and Poland. Fantastic architecture, rich night life, great history. Its mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz featured in a BBC documentary about Poles in Britain, The Poles are Coming. He once famously visited some British cities with strong Polish communities to try to appeal to the most recent migrants and convince them to return to Wrocław.

OK, one more city worth mentioning is

Poznań

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traditionally a vibrant centre of trade and industry, with the oldest cathedral in Poland. Oh, and since I’m jumping all over the Polish map, I need to mention one more northern city,

Szczecin

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Just because I thought you’d love all the consonants in the name :)

I haven’t mentioned here many other important Polish cities, so look out for more consonant-packed names soon!

Warszawa church and Kraków by smif via Flickr used under CC licence
Wrocław by Mike PD via Flickr used under CC licence

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