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Residing on the far-eastern side of Poland, Lublin, the capital of the Lublin Voivodeship, appears to be one of the least westernised regions in the whole country. After dabbling around on Google, I’ve found that in fact Lublin had the lowest GDP output within the European Union until Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007.

This makes me a tad sweaty, seeing as I struggle to live away from the comfort of my home and parents in the UK while at university, let alone when on the far-eastern borders of a former communist state. But we’ve all got to grow up, haven’t we?

I don’t think I should let the economic status of Lublin taint my perception of the city by any means. From what I can see the place looks bloody beautiful – especially the Old Town region – where artistic remnants of the Polish Renaissance collide with Russian Byzantine structures, musings of Trompe-l’oeil and Gothic architecture to form what looks to be a mesmerising kaleidoscope of historical splendor.


No wonder, then, that Lublin has been shortlisted as a candidate for the European Capital of Culture 2016.

For me it’s hard to approach things with any level of parity when you visit a city with a scar as ugly and as deep as Majdanek, which was established during the Nazi occupation of Poland and became the centre of Hitler’s Operation Reinhard campaign. But I’m hoping the city has been able to detach itself from this part of its past, and that the beauty of the city (and of its people!) are able to detract me from the fractious associations often made with the camp.

With less than two weeks to go until I arrive, I’m starting to formulate a plan as to how I’m going to survive. As my mother often tells me, I can barely speak English, so I’m sort of worried about how I’m going to cope when it comes to speaking Polish. I’ve ordered a Polish phrasebook, and if all else fails I’ve devised a plan whereby I’m going to use hand signals and talk very slowly, but also very loudly. You’ll be able to spot me from a mile off.

I’m thinking of sorting both my accommodation and travel arrangements out when I arrive. Although a lot of English football fans will probably book beforehand, this should enable me to gauge the efficiency of the local infrastructure and the state of the national transport network more comprehensively.

Hi from Lublin! I’ve just read about the project in Gazeta. I think it’s a nice idea. I’m interested how people from outside see us. I hope you’ll like people and the city. Remember that you can’t forget about our tough history (communism etc.). So don’t judge us without that knowledge. Poland has changed a looot since the 90’s, but still we have much to do, no doubt about it. Thanks to the Euro2012 in Lublin we’ve got e.g. airport under construction, ring road as well. Even though we’re not any of the host cities. Most of young people here can speak English. There is also a big number of pople studing here from all over the world (mainly in Medial University). It might be a good idea for you to meet them and ask how they consider Lublin, how is studing here for someone from outside etc. The best restaurants are around the Old Town. I’m sure you’ll like the food. Everyone does 🙂 Lublin is a little bit provincional, in comparison to other big cities in Poland… Thanks to the European Capital of Culture candidature there are so many events, especially during spring and summer. Don’t miss them! Most of Poles are happy about Euro2012, but the atmosphere is not intense yet. We’re happy about the improvement in our infrastructure. Some people are skeptical about it – but don’t worry, it’s our national feature to be skeptical 🙂 (I believe it’s partialy thanks to the communism). Don’t forget to see some place around Lublin – like Kazimierz Dolny and Zamość! It’s really worth to see it. You’ll fall in love with them. Have a good time in Lublin! Regards Maciek

One little known fact about Lublin is, it’s a university town, an educational local hub of sorts for that region. Right now the summer semester is practically over, so it might get tad empty soon, but when I visited recently I was expecting a sleepy provincial town and found it full to the brim with young people. As for food… dunno what the local prices might be, but as a person who cooks, I can tell that if you want your meal to have a nice piece of meat and some veggies, then if you shop yourself and then cook, you can expect your dinners to cost you no more than 8 zloty each, which is 2 euro. In Warsaw, I have NEVER been able to eat out for less than 19 zloty… tad short of 5 euro per meal. Though Warsaw is a cathegory onto itself, I bet Lublin will be cheaper. Polish cuisine must-try’s? That’d be Bigos (a cabbage stew with meat and mushrooms), Zeberka z Buraczkami (roast ribs with red beat… the latter may be considered a signature polish veggie dish; red beets are grated and cooked with a bit of milk or sour cream butter and sugar, and served warm. There is also a spicy variant, with horseradish, sometimes considered a poor man’s side-dish), and roast oscypek, a cheese produced in the Tatra region, served with cranberry sauce. Good Bigos might be hard to come by… it’s like a car. Both Yugo and Mini and Lamborghini are cars, but… there’s a difference. Bigos, unfortunately, is the same.

No coca-cola, McDonalds, Tesco? Yeah, right 🙂 You will find it somehow a different place obviously but please mind that this world is rather a global village right now. I would say you will be more surprised of similarities than by differences. OK, roads are not so perfect, you will see no pendolino trains etc. but don’t expect at least to see any horses or steam machines on the roads. I would be happy to help you with any issues or questions if needed, there’s a nice forum www.skyscrapercity.com/tags.php?tag=lublin where you will find plenty of information about Lublin, there’s actually a discussion amongst some members about making a contact with you at this topic: www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=79247196#post79247196 so you are very welcome to call in 😉 No worries, they can talk in English. If I may advise you all there, do not buy any polish currency in UK unless you really want to sponsor your own post office branches. Just take your pound with you and you will have 4.4zł not 4.1zł for a quid. There are plenty of Kantors where you can exchange your money. 500 pound for a week will be more than enough and you will take part of it back with you. Or just use your magic cards, it was only about 0.10zł worse on my hsbc visa debit card when I was in Lublin two weeks ago. I was going to give plenty of advice but there’s no point, you are supposed to find out by yourself 😉 But still you can check the site: www.britishinpoland.com/blog/ and also this one: www.polishforums.com/ And of course something about Lublin at night – check it out!

Hello everybody! Sorry that it’s taken a while for me to get back to you all. I’ve been doing some reading around on both the blog comments, the skyscrapercity forum and on the Lublin branch of Gazeta online. I must say, I’m really humbled by all of your welcoming comments and advice. If anyone would like to meet up during my stay in Lublin, feel free to drop me an email on christopheranddodd@gmail.com or find me on facebook and we can arrange to meet. I shall be putting up another blog post tomorrow, but until then, take care. Chris. P.S momobara, I’m half English and half German. That might explain the way I look!