Saturday, 28 May 2011

Poland 2: Silesian Curios

I've moved on from Kraków in this year's Lonely Planet assignment, and am now exploring the towns and cities of Śląsk (pronounced shlonsk)... or as it's better known in English, Silesia.

I've been doing what I call 'hubbing', that is I base myself in a larger city and do day trips by train or bus to each place I have to check out. It's a good way of working, as I can get straight into the research at each place, unencumbered by luggage.

The towns of Silesia have much to recommend them. Typically they're very walkable, based on an old rynek (market square) around which are arrayed a town hall and attractive old buildings. Somewere nearby will be lurking a castle, or at least the ruins of one.

And if I get to use the sentence "Jak dojść do zamku?" ("How do I get to the castle?") at least once in each town, I award myself bonus points.

Here are some of the quirkier items of interest, snapped in my Silesian travels so far...

1. As an exception to the pretty small village motif, I couldn't resist taking a photo of the communist-era Hotel Katowice (even the tram here is in sympathy with the period). Katowice is a major industrial centre and much of its architecture dates from the 1920s and beyond, so it's an interesting mish-mash of styles:


2. I spotted this little guy on the window of a bakery in attractive Pszczyna (pronounced pshchina - try saying that five times quickly). Żuczek means beetle, and there's possibly an interesting folk tale about him, but I haven't been able to discover anything further. Polish readers, can you shed any light?


3. The name of this Pszczyna street says it all; strażacka means 'firemen':




4. I like the simplicity of this shot in the side streets of Opole. A lot of clothing shops in the UK sell second-hand items from the UK, so this could be one of them:




5. Here's a wild hairdressers' sign from Opole. A unique style awaits within:




6. And finally, the market square in tiny Toszek. They haven't taken down the Easter decorations yet, as you can see: