Saturday was a nice and relaxing day, the kind you spend somewhere when you call it home; meandering to the shops to buy some fresh bread, taking a late breakfast with a big pot of coffee, running some errands, doing some chores, and checking out the local shops. Exploring Gniezno town centre briefly, we popped to Willisch for the coolest dessert you’ve ever seen (pun intended) – black ice cream! I finally experienced the art of a Polish dumpling, and then we headed out for a surprise roadtrip.
the best (and only) black vanilla ice cream i’ve ever had!
Knowing I’m a lover of the great outdoors, and knowing of course that my camera never leaves my side, I was taken on a surprise roadtrip to the very beautiful Powidz Lake, 30km or so away from Gniezno. Out of season it was quiet, with only a few sailing boats out on the water, no campers, and a lone fisherman; in high season I’m told that this is where families camp, rent boats, fish and enjoy the staycation – overseas travel is less popular here. A long jetty lead to where a single boat had docked; there was hardly a soul around and the sun dazzled through the trees as the reflections bounced off the water.
Driving home through the countryside, it’s hard to differentiate it from other countries. Flat, green, and occasionally tree lined, you pass through village after village, not spotting churches as much as in other parts of Europe, but tiny shops, old train tracks, and advertising by the roadside.
So after meandering around the old market square, the next adventure came in the form of a tram! I was super excited about this actually, the last tram I went on was in Berlin a few years ago, but these were so different from how I remember the German counterparts. I bought a ticket which equated to something crazy like 94p from an automated machine near the platform (no ticket barriers here), and we headed off in the direction of Citadel Park, making sure I validated my ticket on board the tram.
Kornelia knows I love roses (you’d have to to put them in your hot chocolate, right?!) and there was still some of their large display in bloom. It was here that I really noticed people’s behaviour, how they seem happier, enjoy a slower pace of life, and look as if they enjoy to spend time together. Families walk in the park, and old couples sit snuggled up amongst the roses. There’s something quite retro about the ambience here, with oldschool candy floss being served on sticks in every colour, and bubbles made with sticks and string for children to play in.
Before heading off to the airport I was shown the war cemeteries and monuments, where the servicemen and prisoners of war can be found. It’s beautifully kept, sectioned for British, Soviet and Polish, and actually quite moving.
Me being me, I was drawn to the typography on the stones, and asked what they said. It’s funny how the little things stand out to you, but perhaps the highlight of my whole trip, odd as this may sound, was the three of us standing around this graveyard, Michal reading out the Polish, line by line, and Kornelia translating the English for me – it was a poem, they said, and just this multi-lingual delivery and the fact that, years after the wars, there we were standing together and sharing a beautiful moment in a place that had been in such turmoil, restored my faith in humanity just a little bit.
Before I knew it, it was time to hit the road to the airport, but I left with a sense of cultural fulfilment, happiness for getting to spend some quality time with one of my favourite people, and a list of things I must see when I visit next!