FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Cześć Polska

Posted in Gniezno, Poland, Poznań by folkestonejack on April 23, 2016

Arrived in Poznań after a smooth but otherwise unremarkable flight from Stansted, with the only exception being the unusual sight of Air Force One sitting at the airport for Obama’s short visit to London.

It has been some ten years since I last stepped foot in Poland and even longer since I was last in Poznań, so it is a pleasure to be making a return today even if I am only passing through briefly on my way to Gniezno. Hopefully I will get a little longer to reacquaint myself with the city on my way back.

I was struck by changes big and small from the outset. The airport has doubled in size (at least) since I was last here and there was no need to test my dodgy Polish in the newsagents trying to buy a ticket for the bus (there’s now a single ticket machine by the bus stop complete with options in English).

One of the few old style trams that I saw in Poznań

One of the few old style trams that I saw in Poznań

Even though I anticipated the degree of change it was still a shock to see this from the moment I stepped off the bus at Rondo Kaponiera. I found myself on the fringes of the first of many construction sites in the city, with work taking place on the roads and in an adjacent plot of land. It looked like a historic red brick building was in the process of being rehabilitated as a swish complex for the 21st century whilst new builds were going up all along the short stretch of road to Poznań Główny.

It was strange to see the vast concrete, steel and glass hulk of Poznań Główny sitting where open tracks had been the last time I was here, dwarfing the old station building. The new station building was opened in 2012 and forms the centrepiece of an impressive shopping and transport hub. It’s a far cry from the old booking hall with its handful of kiosks and small store! Sadly, the daily steam hauled services are no long a feature either, having ceased in 2013 (although, it is worth looking out for details of the specials which run occasionally).

Gniezno Cathedral

Gniezno Cathedral

At Poznań Główny I picked up the 16.35 intercity service to Gniezno, a journey of just 26 minutes. The view from the railway was a familiar tale of motorways under construction and warehouses that stand testament to the investment being pumped into the country. I guess the length of my time away from Poznań has accentuated the differences for me, but by any measure the degree of change has been nothing short of astronomic.

The train stopped at Pobiedziska unexpectedly and the driver came over the intercom referring to a ‘problem techniczny’ which made me groan. I really hoped that I wasn’t about to be stranded halfway on such a short journey! In the end the train was just a tad late and I still had plenty of time to wander Gniezno, take in the cathedral and watch the festivities for Saint Adalbert’s day before returning to the station to meet up with the tour group. Time for some steam…