Just back from: Łódź, Poland

Claire and friend sitting in a pedicab before the start of their tour

Claire and chum getting comfortable before their pedicab ride © Claire Richardson

Claire Richardson, Picture Editor for Lonely Planet Traveller magazine, recently returned from a trip to Łódź, Poland.

Tell us more… I spent a long weekend in Łódź – Poland’s third-largest city – where I got to hang out in some very cool industrial spaces, sip Bison Grass Vodka cocktails from a rooftop bar and hurtle around the city in the back of a pedicab! But before I go on, it’s useful to know how to pronounce this city correctly: spelt L-O-D-Z, it’s actually pronounced WOODGE!

In a nutshell… Łódź is in the centre of Poland to the west of Warsaw. It’s a post-industrial city along the lines of present-day Detroit and is currently in a state of transformation. By the 1990s the city was left in ruins with lots of derelict factory buildings, but today these wonderful spaces have been repurposed into pop-up restaurants, bars, museums and galleries enticing a younger, artistic crowd back to the city.

The overhanging pool on the Vienna House Andel's Lodz

The overhanging pool on the Vienna House Andel’s Lodz © Claire Richardson

What struck me most was… all the industrial architecture. Colossal buildings with red brick facades and huge windows – prime sites for rejuvenation. We stayed in a converted textile mill, the Vienna House Andel’s Łódź. The hotel is stylish and modern, but they’ve integrated as many of the industrial features as possible from machine parts to giant steel columns. My favourite detail was the overhanging swimming pool on the roof, with panoramic views across the city, occupying the space where the original water tank was housed.

If you do one thing… Spend an afternoon exploring the Manufaktura complex, a huge former industrial estate. Where mechanical weaving looms once toiled, you’ll now find shops, the MS2 Museum of Art, a cinema, farmer’s market and countless open-air restaurants. People fly overhead on zip-lines, children bounce on trampolines and there’s even a bungee jump for the extreme thrill-seeker! Otherwise if you’re like me, head over to the artificial beach to watch people skimboarding and enjoy a cocktail at the beach bar in the sunshine.

A person zip lining over the Manufaktura complex

Zip lining over the Manufaktura complex © Claire Richardson

Fave activity… My favourite activity had to be whizzing around Łódź in the back of a pedicab (a cycle rickshaw). It’s a wonderful way to see the city and is incredibly cheap. Dodging trams and cars we headed down Piotrkowska street (the longest pedestrianised commercial street in Europe at 4.9km long), took in some colourful street murals and followed the star plaques of Łódź’s very own ‘Holly-woodge’ walk of fame.

Good grub? Polish cuisine is quite hearty and includes lots of preserves, pickles, meat, potatoes and smoked fish. We were introduced to some polish classics such as pickled herring, sausages, plum-stuffed pork loin, pickled mushrooms, sauerkraut and pampuchy (steamed buns). We also had a go at making classic Polish ravioli, known as pierogi (pronounced peer-o-gi). These crescent-shaped dumplings are made from dough and can have savoury or sweet fillings; we tried mushroom, minced meat and plum pierogi for dessert – delicious!

Round off a day's exploration with some Bison Grass Vodka cocktails at the skyFLY bar

Round off a day’s exploration with some Bison Grass Vodka cocktails at the skyFLY bar © Claire Richardson

Fridge magnet or better? Vodka is a common drink of choice in Poland and I was quite taken by the cocktails at the skyFLY rooftop bar, which were mixed with Żubrówka (Bison Grass Vodka), a type of vodka flavoured with the grass the bison feed on in the Białowieża Forest. This was too good to resist so I did treat myself to a bottle to take home!

Watch the interview

Claire Richardson travelled to Łódź with support from Wizz Air and Vienna House Andel’s Lodz. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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