Monday, January 26, 2009

By Boat

I decided to take a day trip to Lodz. So, I meandered on down to Warszawa Centralna and bought myself a ticket for the 9:20 AM train. Lodz is probably the closest big city to Warsaw so the train ride is only about an hour and half. I lucked out in getting an almost-empty compartment, and the ride was rather enjoyable. M met me and we went about the city. He claimed that I had seen everything Lodz had to offer, but I said that there must be something else.
The Polish countryside by train winter
The Polish countryside by train.

The great mural of Lodz
The great mural of Lodz.

As I stated before, Lodz is an industrial city. It's what you envision when you think back to Communist Europe. Lots of brick and poured concrete buildings. The roads are rather rutty and are dotted with potholes. The day was foggy, which set a good mood to see Lodz, especially since most of our day was spent in cemeteries.
wooden house Lodz
A break from the normal concrete flats. Here's a wooden house.

Lodz is home to the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. I didn't even see a large part of it, but I did get to walk around a slight bit. It's huge. You have to pay four zloty to get in and you aren't allowed to take pictures (I did, but don't tell them!) Cemeteries are so interesting here, they have so much character. All the graves in the Jewish Cemetery face towards Isræl, whereas the ones in the Christian cemetery are all higglty-pigglty.
Jewish Cemetery Lodz
They all face Israel.

Apparently they had let part of the cemetery go, so brush had grown up all around some of the graves. Now there is an effort to clear it all out. There's also a field for the 40,000 victims of the Lodz ghetto.
Jews of the Lodz ghetto
Markers of the final resting places for the Jews of the Lodz ghetto.

Israel Poznanski was once one of the richest people in Lodz. He was a textiles magnate and his palace is now a museum, which I highly suggest visiting. His mausoleum is huge and dominates over all other graves in the cemetery.
Izrael Poznanski's Mausoleum
Izrael Poznanski's Mausoleum.

The inside of the dome atop Poznanski's tomb
The inside of the dome atop Poznanski's tomb.

Lodz has a charm that's a little different from other cities. David Lynch apparently is in love with the city. He walks down the street and enters every alleyway he can. It reminds me of my days of flipping through an old National Geographic and seeing pictures from the Eastern Block. There is no real Old City in Lodz, even though the city was mostly spared the ravages of the Second World War (unlike Warsaw or Breslau/Wroclaw.) It has a gritty, grayness that is actually very satisfying to see. There are changes, but not the changes one sees in places like Krakow and Warsaw.


stefbra said...

Thanks for the post about my city. It's always interesting to know a visitor's perspective.
We often like to say here that Lodz is the most 'American' city in Poland (because of a relative short history, old capitalist industies and the street grid)

hope you could come to see Lodz when the weather gets better ;)

stefan b.

PolishMeKnob said...

Lodz is a great city!!! I've only ever been there in wintertime though. I'll make it over there this summer and see what's up.