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Poland: Statue art

Observations of Poland

Poland seems to have an unhealthy obsession with sculptures. Every city has half a dozen artistic wonders. Obviously there is your national heroes, Kopernicus and JP2 but there might also be a gnome at tripping height outside a building. Animals are also popular, just a donkey on a street corner or a chicken eating pretend grain. It’s hard to say why. I think sculptors made their biggest comeback since Ancient Greece in Eastern Europe in the post-war period when a statue, a monument or memorial was placed on every corner.

It doesn't stop at statues. Monuments are a big thing from Eastern Bloc times. The Soviets loved a good, giant, ugly memorial with happy communists farming or just a big, omnipresent Lenin in a town centre. There are sculptures every where you look from confronting, skeletal sculptures honouring those who perished in WW2 camps to big dramatic, often morbidly styled pieces of bronze to honour the heroes of communism, great battles and the fallen.

With the fall of communism much of the socialist art was destroyed and many statues ceremoniously toppled as a symbol of the fall. Nowadays where a Stalin the size of a building loomed is something less confronting, a nice statue of a national hero, a fountain or in Prague they replaced theirs with a giant metronome.

It seems in Poland they couldn’t quite do away with this love of statue art. As throwback to old times perhaps they keep putting up statues but now, obviously they are not going to have a Stalin so how about puppy? Or a donkey? Or a gnome watching TV?

The types of statues Poland replaced its socialist art with:

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Some of the Communist era memorials that survived:
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Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 02:33 Archived in Poland Tagged art statues poland sculpture Comments (0)

Poland: People from Poland are Poles not Pollacks

Observations from Poland

One of my daily travel activities is to people watch and guess nationalities. An Australian male under the age of 30 will most likely be wearing thongs and board shorts regardless of the climate or terrain for instance. Germans usually look like they are about to go hiking, often looking like poster children for Hitler’s Germany with Aryan good looks, tanned skin, blonde hair and usually being sporty like riding a bike. Americans always seem to be lost and are looking at a subway map and saying “Bob, are you sure this is right? Is this the yellow line because this train is red. Bob? I don't think we are going the right way. Look at that Bob, oh that’s really neat”.

What about the Poles?
At times Poland seems to be in a bit of a time warp, not stuck in terms of ploughing fields by hand though they probably still do in parts but it’s like some people are perpetually stuck in 1989, the momentous time of the fall of the Communism and the USSR which restored their independence. It is like some people are scared that if they get out of their acid wash jeans it all might have been a dream.
The Slavic men you can spot a mile. They nearly always have a conscription-style buzz cut a grandfather would be proud of. They still rock the jeans and a sports jacket look and for some reason still use a duffel bag to carry their change of clothes and the two beers needed for the two-hour morning train journey. Now correct me if I am wrong but the only people who use a duffel in this day and age are the ones carrying a sawn-off shot gun in it but it’s the bag size and style of choice in Poland. You still see the occasional mullet, parachute jacket and a lot of denim. Polish men are pissed 90 per cent of the day which is why they think they think it’s still 1989 and think they can get away with denim on denim. I am sure alcoholism contributes to most of this nation’s woes.

The Slavic women are steps ahead of their male counterparts. Oft fashionable, tall and modelesque, all the models these days are Ukrainian or Russian. There is however a segment of female society that seems to favour white jeans (after Labour Day) and denim jackets and I have spotted several scrunchies. The more press studs and diamontes the better, especially on the back pocket of your white jeans or the denim jacket. Also as a massive generalisation, also seem to play good tennis. The younger generations are 100% dressed from the racks of European chain stores like H&M so sadly I think it is a dying trend.

One thing that I always loved about Eastern Europe is the old men who will still wear a hat when the leave the house and a nice jacket. They look classy. The old ladies in Poland are always dressed nicely, with their hair combed back and wearing a nice pressed blouse. They are also partial to a red hair rinse which I cannot deny them; it takes years off ones look. I have been looked up and down so many times by Polish women. I think they think I am homeless. I think if I put my hat out I would pick up a Złoty or two.

The Polish people are coming out of their shell after all these years being ruled by arguably the two most unaffectionate, stern and reserved nations.
Now they are in the EU and EasyJet connects a stag party from Liverpool with the beautiful, quiet cobbled streets of a Polish city, Poland is on its way to losing every bit of the secluded, quiet life they once knew and eventually they will lose all their little quirks and just wear H&M and drink coffee at Starbucks like the rest of Europe.
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Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 03:05 Archived in Poland Tagged people poland fashion style slavic Comments (0)

Poland: Back in the Habit

Observations of Poland

One thing you notice in Poland is that the Poles are mad for a bit of God. It is handy for getting around the town on Sundays because most people are in Church. But super, dooper Catholic. And not just at Christmas and Easter.
Pope John Paul II, everybody’s favourite Pope was Polish. He is my favourite Pope because he is the only one I know. I call him JP2 mostly because it makes him sound like a robot. I find great pleasure in finding JP2 statues and also any streets, squares, universities, libraries all named after the honorable JP. This can become difficult for navigation. I would not at all be surprised if Kraków passed a decree to retitle itself Jana Pawel Town. He was a great ambassador and a sign of great hope in Poland during their rough times so it is understandble adoration.

On this visit I was a little bit disappointed by the lack of nuns. In Kraków you cannot walk for tripping on a rosary bead. I had seen four my whole trip before I arrived in Wrocław. One was wearing a hoodie over her habit so I was somewhat satisfied but wondered why there were nun nones.

I love nuns. Being as I am, a firm believer…that Sister Act was one of the best movies of the early 90s, I just get a kick out of seeing nuns. It’s not that we don’t have them at home I am sure we do but they aren’t just kicking about, catching trams, wearing sneakers, listening to iPods or under the age of 70. Do you thing they just have like a pair of Adidas tracksuit pants underneath? How does their hat veil stay on? Bobby pins? Are they in a Motown choir? I have a lot of questions. Especially when I see a young one.

On my city walk I had made my way to an area where there were a few cathedrals but more importantly a park which I wanted to sit down in and low and behold nuns. Nuns aplenty. Every few minutes I would spot one and try to casually take a photo meaning I basically spent the better part of an hour stalking nuns. I am not sure if that’s allowed. But if they weren’t dressed like penguin people I would have to chase them with my camera.

Finally satisfied I had seen what I’d come to Poland for, pretty buildings, nuns and cheap vodka I was set to depart from Wrocław to Dresden. I had caught a bus to the station at 6:30am and this is not an hour I happily see in a day. As I was waiting for my train there it was, the highlight of my whole trip. Standing by the platform stairs was an older, slightly rotund nun carrying a rucksack. The bag was pulling her hat/veil thing back and she had it buckled around her waist over the rope belt-thing they wear. I didn’t know where to look; I didn’t know whether I wanted to give her a hug for amusing me so or topple her because she looked so back heavy to amuse me further.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good snap and be discreet. So I pretended to take a photo of the completely under construction, nothing to see train station, obviously a ploy and typically all I got was this one blurry one. Ah the things you do to get a photo of a nun going hiking.

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One of my photos from my afternoon stalking nuns.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 12:25 Archived in Poland Tagged religion poland nuns catholic wroclaw Comments (1)

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