Paul and Sharon Molloy: Polska oczami Irlandczyków/Poland through the eyes of the Irish

Me and my wife Sharon are from Tullamore in the midlands of Ireland. We travel a lot and we have fallen so much in love with Poland that we’ve decided to visit all 11 Polish cities that have direct flights from Dublin. As I write this we’ve been to 6 and number 7 is just two weeks away.

Our first trip to Poland was in August 2012 when we spent a week in Krakow. Walking around the Old Town we were immediately blown away by how beautiful the place was. We’ve been to many European cities but straight away Krakow felt special. Apart from all the stunning architecture we soon also discovered that we love Polish food. Sharon is a chef and wherever we go we love to try the local food. You’ll never find us in McDonald’s on holidays. When in Poland we prefer traditional Polish food restaurants but not just the expensive touristy ones. We’ve honestly had some of our best meals in Poland in a Bar Mleczny.

During our week in Krakow we also visited Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine and we even spent a night in Wadowice, hometown of Pope John Paul ll. Our first visit to Poland left us wanting more so we booked a trip to Gdansk for the following summer.

It’s difficult to find the words to describe how beautiful Gdansk is when friends ask „What’s it like?” I remember every corner we turned we found ourselves saying „Wow!” and „Oh my God!” Stunning buildings and Elegant Squares, dockside beer gardens and river cruises. It’s almost impossible to believe it was rebuilt from a pile of rubble after World War ll. I loved visiting the shipyard, the birthplace of Solidarność and we really loved the city’s nightlife. Fantastic bars and restaurants. We had an incredible time in Gdansk and also visited Westerplatte and Sopot before it was time to come home.

Next on our list was a weekend in Wroclaw. It was December and the Christmas Markets were in full swing. Mulled wine was being served, grilled oscypek from the mountains, enormous Polish sausages and burgers. And Wow! Yet another stunningly beautiful city. The Rynek looked like something out of a fairytale to us. It was in Wroclaw that we decided we were going to see as much of Poland as possible. When we discovered we could fly direct from Dublin to 11 Polish cities we said „That’s it! We’re doing all of them.”

After a fantastic weekend in Wroclaw the next city on our list was Warsaw and on the flight from Dublin I remembered a walking tour we had done in Krakow. The tour guide asked the crowd of tourists „How many of you have been to Warsaw?” When several people raised their hands he looked at them and simply said „Why?” From that little joke I gathered there is rivalry between the two cities and the guide went on to say that Warsaw is not a very pretty city. I disagree.

We really liked Warsaw. Maybe the Old Town is not as beautiful as Krakow or Gdansk but it’s still beautiful. Especially compared to many other European capital cities.  It’s such a vibrant place too. The city centre is buzzing. We took a stroll along Nowy Swiat from the Royal Castle stopping off on dozens of shops, cafes and museums. We just kept walking and eventually found ourselves at the Museum of Culture and Science. I love that building. I’m aware the residents of Warsaw have mixed feelings about it but I think it’s so impressive. We loved our trip to Warsaw and I will never forget the Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego for as long as I live. Warsaw is underrated. I’d recommend it to anyone.

In August 2018 we were going to visit Ukraine so we decided to fly into our 5th Polish city (Rzeszow) for a weekend before catching a train that took us over the border to Lviv. Sitting outside a restaurant in the sun on our first day in Rzeszow in the Market Square eating pierogi and drinking a cold beer we talked about how much we had fallen in love with Poland. Here we were in yet another architecturally beautiful Old Town Square and this time in a small city in Eastern Poland that probably doesn’t get many international tourists and that none of our Irish friends back home had ever heard of. How many beautiful cities can one country have?

Only a month later we both managed to book a long weekend off work so we could go straight back to Poland and visit our 6th city – Poznan.

We just about caught the last summer weather of the year and the photos and videos we have of Poznan Old Town in the sun wouldn’t look out of place in a tourist brochure. It’s not possible to take a bad photo of Poznan. The magnificent Town Hall and the buildings that surround it, the cobbled streets and the monuments and water fountains. Poznan Stare Miasto has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Poland does it again.

I love history and I’m fascinated by what Poland went through in the Second World War and then under Communism. My wife loves the whole local food experience and really enjoys looking around Polish markets. The first thing we do before we visit a city is Google where the food markets and flea markets are. The price of a night out in Poland compared to Ireland is of course yet another bonus. Being the stereotypical Irish couple we do like to finish our evenings in a pub when on holidays and we’ve had too many great nights out in Poland to recount here. Let’s hope we have plenty more as our Polish adventure continues. That’s six down, five to go. Next stop, Szczecin.

© Text and photos: Paul and Sharon Molloy

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