Beauty of Świnoujście

Posted on 16. Jun, 2012 by in Geography, Nature, Places to visit, travel

Time for a little traveling! Located in the very corner of northwest Poland, in the Pomerania region of sea and sand, Świnoujście is unique. Unlike any other town in the country, it is actually stretched out over 44 islands, though only three are populated. This wildly romantic setting is home to a bustling fishing port (port rybacki), naval base (baza marynarki wojennej) and beach resort (miejscowość wypoczynkowa, plażowa) and is well worth exploring, at any time of year.

Thanks to its island location, Świnoujście is one of the most beautiful towns on the Polish coast, and it also has one of the most interesting geographical stories to tell. It is spread over 44 islands, of which three – Uznam, Wolin and Karsibór – are populated and developed in terms of infrastructure, transport services and economic bases. Having said this, the services and development are clearly divided between the islands, and as such, each retains its own unique character and attractions.

The local governmental administration and a number of spas and health centers are on Uznam Island. What also makes this particular island interesting is that only 40 sq km of its 420 sq km are located in Poland; the largest part of Uznam is actually located on the German side of the border. 80% of Świnoujście residents live on Uznam-Island. This makes the town and island an interesting linguistic and cultural mixture of Polish and German, which is reflected in the street life, the food and the cultural celebrations.

The island of Wolin, which has an area of 265 sq km, is the largest Polish island and is home to Świnoujście’s industrial area. Since the extremely important ferry terminal is located on Wolin, as is the state railway system, it is the center of economy and commerce and sees continuous naval traffic between Scandinavia and Poland; it is also used as an intersection for international naval traffic. As such, it has a more rough-and-tumble character than the other two islands, as it is the entry point for visiting sailors who are stopping over for a refreshing stay involving beer, music, good food and some female company.

The third island is Karsibór, and it is completely different from Uznam and Wolin yet again: it is known for its crystal clear waters, summer water sports and lush greenery. Bird lovers and agrotourists will also appreciate the Karsiborska Kępa bird reserve which gives protection to almost 140 bird species, including some very rare, almost extinct,. This makes it a must-visit location for ornithologists and photographers.. In the colder months, the appeal of the water and beaches may be limited, but walks through the woods and parks hold a real attraction for visitors all year round.

A point of real pride for the local tourist office is that Świnoujście is a unique combination of the urban and the natural, largely due to the fact that within the town’s boundaries there are 43 sq km of forests as well as numerous parks, including the town’s best- known green area, Spa Park. It was founded 170 years ago, and today it boasts a glorious display of Mediterranean vegetation. Another park that the town promotes is the Wolin National Park, located 15km away from the town itself and which has numerous natural monuments. And finally, for those who wish to explore the German side of Uznam Island, there is the Usedom Nature Park (‘Usedom’ is the German word for ‘Uznam’).

Summer is the non-health tourist high season, and so the entire social life of the town becomes concentrated on the seaside district, especially above the town’s major promenade. It stretches around the shell-shaped concert hall and along the entire stretch of shopping and catering establishments. In the summer, it is essential to take a walk along Władysława IV quayside: boat buffs will enjoy observing the harbour installations and types of vessels which range from small pleasure-boats, to fish cutters; from earnest little tug-boats to massive merchant and naval ships. In the winter, of course, such a walk should only be undertaken by the most hardy – so do plan to end your adventure at a local tavern and warm up with some thick and meaty Polish soup, or a glass of grzaniec (mulled red wine with cloves).

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Poland expects more Russian fans for Greece clash

Posted on 14. Jun, 2012 by in Countries, Culture, Current News, Games, Safety, Sports

Poland expects 20,000 Russian fans to arrive in Warsaw with tickets for the final Group A match with Greece, twice the number who came to the game with Poland that was marred by bloody street clashes (krwawe starcia uliczne) on Tuesday.

On Wednesday a Warsaw court issued first sentences to hooligans (chuligani) who took part in the skirmishes (potyczki) with Russian supporters, handing out suspended jail terms of up to 12 months and fines to eight Poles.

Police detained 184 people, 156 of them Poles and most of the rest Russians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk during a phone conversation on Wednesday Warsaw bore “full responsibility” for the safety of fans, comments raising the stakes in a violent confrontation which brought the nations’ troubled relationship to the fore.

The trigger for Tuesday’s trouble was a march across Poniatowski bridge in central Warsaw by thousands of Russian fans to commemorate Russia’s Independence Day.

The interior ministry declined to say how it would get fans to the stadium this time without trouble, although city authorities have already said they would oppose any further set piece marches. Many Russian fans did make their way peacefully to the stadium in smaller groups on Tuesday.

A UEFA ruling against Russia on Wednesday means that the country will be docked six points in qualifying for the next European Championship if their fans step out of line again after earlier disturbances (zaburzenia) at the tournament.

Some unofficial estimates put as many as 20,000 Russians in the city during Tuesday’s violence, many of them without tickets for the game – suggesting that the overall number coming to the city for the Greek game could be higher.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Looking for pleasure during Euro 2012?

Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by in Countries, Culture, Current News, Games, Health, Sports

The “sex business” is looking to make a killing from Euro 2012 by tapping into the high-spirited desires of football fans.

The prospect of thousands upon thousands of fans arriving in the country and looking for a good time that extends beyond the actual matches has caused a stir in brothels and dens of inequity.

Gazeta Wyborcza reported that a Wrocław go-go club was looking for an extra 50 women to meet an expected surge in demand (gwałtowny wzrost popytu) once the football starts. “Experience not required and a safe and pleasant atmosphere (Doświadczenie nie jest wymagane i bezpieczna i przyjemna atmosfera),” went the club’s advertisement on the internet.

Anybody hired can earn, according to the advertising, up to PLN 3,000 a night but for that they will have to dance, perform a striptease and offer the client a “hot and unforgettable night of fun”.

Another advertisement said that knowledge of English was not essential. “Customers do not come here for a chat,” said the person who placed the advertisement.

While prostitution is legal (prostytucja jest legalna), pimping goes against the law but this has not stopped some pimps getting ready for business.

Rafał, a pimp interviewed by Gazeta Wyborcza, said he had four apartments lined up to deal with the surge in expected demand, adding that all the flats have central locations because “fans will not want to travel out to the distant suburbs”.

He added that while he was aware that the police might ramp their anti-pimping activities during the tournament, the rewards were worth the risks.

But others involved in the prostitution business complain that the prospect of easy money from foreigners has led to prostitutes migrating to the host cities, and bringing down prices. In Poznań, where Ireland, Croatia and Italy will play games, prices have dropped from PLN 200 per hour to PLN 150.

In the lead up to the football some of country’s regional police forces have targeted the sex trade. Paweł Petrykowski, spokesman for Lower Silesia police, said the force had raided a number of clubs and go-go bars, and shut down three prostitution agencies. But, he added, during the Euros ensuring safety on the streets would have a higher priority than combating prostitution.

With large number of prostitutes and large numbers of men looking for sex, health officials are worried that Euro 2012 could also lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

To prevent this, the health ministry has come up with its “Fair Play” campaign, which will see the distribution of some 150,000 free kits of condoms. Distributed in the fan zones the condoms will come with leaflets in Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, German and English warning about the dangers of unprotected sex.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)