This is by way of some catch up from our holiday in Poland – various ideas for blog posts at the time.
For the uninitiated, I spent two chunks of time in Poland: six months in my gap year, working on the outskirts of Warsaw in a school for the blind; then ten months teaching English in Legnica, a small town near the border with Germany, after graduating from university.
Our visit to Poland this summer was a chance to revisit some old haunts – we even went back to the school for the blind, which I hadn’t visited for twelve years – and also get a sense for how Poland is doing now it’s part of the EU etc.
One feature that struck me this time was that pavement cafes are on the up. In particular, ones with large sun umbrellas advertising one of the main beers, Zywiec.
When I was in Poland in the past, this kind of ‘cafe society’ was not much in evidence. By the time I was in Legnica, ten years ago, a cafe in town occasionally managed some green sun umbrellas for Hortex, one of the brands of fruit juice. Hortex bars – juice bars! – were kind of trendy then, and an alternative to heavy drinking in a regular bar.
The nearby city of Wroclaw had an ‘Out of Africa’ cafe, which my discerning teacher friend Beata took me to, and this seemed to be the height of aspirations. (There were also standard German cafes in Gorlitz, the split border town, where Poles from Legnica and the surroundings went to do tax free shopping, rather than pay more in Wroclaw.)
Admittedly, this time we were mostly in big cities, or with places which had tourists, so there was probably more reason for expecting the pavement cafes. But it’s part of the visual landscape I expect in other countries, even see at times in the UK, and now, it seems, in Poland too.
Poland can do hot summers. It does a good line in hanging out in the park. It’s good for pavement cafes too. With the added advantage that the beer is just as cheap as in the ‘standard’ European countries I’d expect to see the cafes, but sometimes even cheaper…what’s not to like?
And when we were in the mountain resort of Zakopane, with afternoon storms quite frequent on hot days, the umbrellas were just the thing for keeping out of the rain. Sorted.