As is usual at this time of the year, I’d like to look back and tell you what’s been hot and what’s been rot in Poznań over the last twelve months. You always need some negatives to accentuate the positives, but generally, particularly when you consider the strife that’s going on in other parts of the world, I feel very very lucky to be living in this beautiful, safe and prosperous city. And I still get the same buzz of excitement when I head down town as I did when I first came here sixteen years ago.
But anyway, moving on to specifics, let’s start with the Poles’ favourite pastime, complaining! In no particular order, here’s the things which have wound me up in Poznań in 2015..
1. The decline of the Old Town – this was something I mentioned this time last year and if anything, things have got worse. Dilapidated buildings, cheap and tacky bars, seedy gogo clubs, poor service, inflated prices – all of these things distract from the undoubted beauty of the place, a real shame for the city.
2. Malta Festival – like the Old Town, Malta Festival is one of those things which people from outside Poznań readily associate with the city. It is, therefore, sad to see the slow scaling down of this annual cultural event. When I first started writing this blog back in 2011, Malta was huge, with numerous big name music acts and a spellbinding closing procession with a finale in the Old Market Square. By comparison, 2015’s offering was lame.
3. Rondo Kaponeira – apparently (according to the taxi driver I spoke to today), these improvements to Poznan’s central transport hub are the longest ongoing building works in Europe! Started in 2011, they’ve been held back by extreme weather, funding problems and most interestingly, the discovery of a huge German wartime bunker. I just hope that in 2016, they’ll finally get it finished and all the disruption will be over. We’ll see..
Phew, now I’ve got all that off my chest, let’s do something much more pleasant and talk about the good things which have been going on in 2015, again, in no particular order…
1. Food glorious food! – I spend a lot of time on these pages reviewing eateries, and that’s for good reason. Virtually every week something new and exciting opens up and it’s with great pleasure that I get out and do these reviews for you. And 2015 has had a bit of everything to offer – gourmet kebabs at Kraszkebab, fine dining at Wieniawskiego, picnicking at the Breakfast Markets. In a complete reverse of my Malta Festival observation, the foody scene in 2015 is umpteen times better than it was in 2011 and I’m sure that in 2016 it will be even better..
2. Expats for Children – the most heartwarming event of the year me was a charity football tournament organised by a fellow expat in Poznań. The worthy cause was a local community outreach centre for children from difficult backgrounds and the money raised enabled them to take the kids on a summer holiday at the seaside. A video was doing the rounds on Facebook, showing their reactions when they saw the sea for the first time in their lives, wonderful stuff and a credit to everyone involved. There’s more of the same planned for 2016, watch this space…
3. Poznań’s hospitality to refugees – future history books will look back at 2015 as the year that Europe was flooded (forgive the metaphor) with refugees, such has been the scale of the crisis. And while I understand that for some people this causes fear, fear that somehow our culture will be diluted by such large numbers of immigrants, for many others it has brought out the better side of their characters. I was really proud of the Poznanians, including the Mayor who came out and publically supported the idea that Poland should accept its quota of refugees. Good on them!
Well, that’s all for now and the only thing left for me to do is to wish you a very Happy and Successful New year! Watch out for the fireworks…