This is the Most Gay-Friendly City in Poland
And it used to be the country’s capital.
I arrived in Poznan, Poland on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in late March. I found my way to the Old Market Square which would seem as if it was City Center, but it is in fact not.
I met up with my good friend who is a native of Poznan. He showed me around the actual City Center. I acted like a typical tourist and took too many pictures during the “tour”.
There are beautiful, vibrant-colored buildings in Old Market Square. The elegant Adam Mickiewicz University, the site of the near-riot of the 2012 Euro Championships. Even the castle Adolf Hitler was going to move into shortly before he committed suicide at the end of WWII. All right here in Poznan.
It was relieving to finally be in Eastern Europe for a budget backpacker like myself. The cost of living and travel is far less than in Western Europe.
He said during our conversation something that I took to heart. He told me he was so happy that I was visiting Poznan despite it not exactly being a tourist destination. And so was I.
Although it was a bit out of the way, he was one of my better European friends and it was so nice to see him again. It’s a blessing that
I am fortunate enough to be able to meet up with great friends in cities all over Europe.
More about Poznan, Poland. . .
Poznan is a city on the Warta River in the west-central part of Poland. It is known for its Renaissance old town (Old Market Square) which was destroyed during World War II.
It even served as the country’s capital for a short time in the 13th Century. Therefore, it’s known as “The Capital City of Poznan”.
The city itself is home to 550,000 people but the surrounding metropolitan area is home to over 1.1 million people.
In Poland, the currency is Zlaty, which I exchanged at a rate equal to 3.70 Zlaty for every dollar.
The cost of living is fairly inexpensive in Poznan. For example, while there, I bought lunch out, a market dinner for two, beer, snacks, I got a haircut, and a new pair of shoes all for under 45 dollars.
Poznan is a calm and clean city and the people here seem genuinely friendly. I could definitely see how it would be easy to make a life here.
The next morning, my friend had class so I was on my own for the first time in Poland. My mission was to find a traditional Poznan pastry: the Rogal Swietomarcinski.
It was, in fact, really good. A nutty, brown sugar-filled pastry coated in icing. It is pricey, especially to locals, so it is a treat when you get one.
I was proud of myself because I was able to communicate with what little Polish phrases I memorized. This, while at the barbershop and shoe store.
Before I spoke English, they could tell from my pronunciation that I was not Polish. So, they’d reply to my question in what little English they knew.
Things to do in Poznan
My friend and I decided to take a little journey around the different areas of Poznan which are off-the-beaten-path. Here are a few of my favorite things we did while I was in Poznan:
We went on a hike through Cytadela Park which was a site of many deaths in WWII. We climbed tanks from the war and guessed that the huge craters in the ground might be from bombs.
For lunch, I had a traditional Polish dish; Pierogi! Which are cabbage-stuffed dumplings and they tasted pretty good.
Remember how I told you Old Market Square is not the real city center? First, we went to the actual city center. It’s a huge mall connected to the same building as the Poznan train station. That’s it. Just a mall.
Then, we took a walk around Lake Malta. It is used for several recreational and competitive sports including mostly rowing competitions.
It was a beautiful day, and finally a day without rain. After we made it around the huge lake, my friend showed me a place he used to work called Rope Park.
It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. Ropes and obstacles high up in the trees of a nearby wooded area. I wanted to try the obstacle course out but unfortunately, it opens in May.
If in Poznan during this time, check it out and let me know how you enjoyed it!
That night, we went back out to Old Market Square for a few beers. We went to a good student bar with an excellent vibe called Za Kulisami.
After buying several traditional Polish beers, we each took a shot of liquor that was lit on fire. Still, I had not spent more than €15.
After that, we went for a beer at Brovaria in Old Market. It’s not the most budget-friendly bar we could have chosen in Poznan, but it was classy. It gave me a Jay Gatsby-type of vibe.
- Beer at the market — average $0.75 for 16oz beer
- Tram ticket — $1.25 for 40-minute access
- Pint at a bar — < $2.00 on average
- Rogal Swietomarcinski — $1.75 each
- Hair cut — $5
- Shoes — $20 average for a pair of tennis shoes
- Lunch at restaurant — $2–3 average
Other attractions, bars, restaurants in Poznan. . .
- Poznan Town Hall — be there a few minutes before noon to see a surprise from the tower clock
- Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul
- Imperial Castle — was once going to be the home of Adolf Hitler right before suicide took his life
- Cuba Libre — student budget bar/club set in a basement of this Latin venue
- Oberza Pod Dzwonkiem — affordable traditional Polish food
My train was leaving in the middle of the night. I would be sleeping on the train to Krakow.
Would I go back to Poznan? Yes, in a heartbeat. Finding great cities that aren’t touristy is the essence of backpacking. That’s my opinion, anyway.
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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **
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