Captured on Fujifilm XT1, XF 23mm F1.4 R
The train ride from Częstochowa to Łódź, a beautiful European city with Parisian architecture and the best film school in the country was just as expected.
I haven’t been to Poland for quite a while, three years in fact so I was hungry to see and experience everything again and afresh. The train ride took around 2 hours, not boring at all – we sat in a carriage (przedzial) of 8 people squeezed like sardines, almost touching each others knees but it was interesting and real and funny. Two uni students had a conversation about philosophy, life, books with marihuana joints falling out from between the book pages. Broken mini table, buzzing carriage speaker that nobody can hear, two hours went fast.
Upon arrival, I found Łódź in a (long-term) construction mode and everybody is deeply unhappy about it and talks about it. Who wouldn’t be, dust and chaos everywhere. Łódź Kaliska Station (dworzec kolejowy) provides little information how to get to the centre, if you’re a foreigner, you’re really are screwed. I asked three different people and got three different directions, (which I didn’t mind btw) thinking to myself lucky I can speak Polish!
Life on Piotrkowska St, the main street in Łódź is vibrant, in both hipster and not-so-cool way, just like any other place. There’s plenty of kitsch cafes and predictable Western food chains, pretentious crowd and tourists, including me dressed up for the occasion. But step off the main drag and you’re more likely to see the older Łódź: kids riding their skateboards (deskorolki), not afraid to smile at you and with you, stone paving, echoes of people walking in a distance. Beautiful, historic, eerie..
Saturday morning is quiet, long before 10am when the nearest cafe opens up its doors. I sit and wait for a coffee, hoping to get some food but there is none, just some regular cakes which I can’t eat anyway being coeliac. Multilingual smarty pant beggar approaches and asks for money, street cleaners listen to music relaxing before everyone wakes up and they have to start sweeping the memories of the previous nights. Streets are clean and thieves are very brazen here, I photographed a few, they were hungry and kept coming back for more. Nobody else saw them steal.
People on the bus are tense, when an older guy having a conversation over the phone, says ‘panie, to są oryginalne podróbki’ (man, these are original duds!’) I bursted out laughing. The humour of life and ghosts of the past are everywhere!
But Łódź has a great atmosphere. Hipsters, artists and oldtimers who remember the bad times make an eclectic mix. Opportunity seems to float in the air somewhere yet with over 700.000 people the jobs are difficult to get, say the locals. The proximity of Warsaw leaves some searching for better opportunities elsewhere, but artists and entrepreneurs are here and their presence is strong. A bit like in Ballarat 🙂