I loved to travel in Eastern Europe. There was always that weird dimension of time travel . . . if only backwards. These days, of course, the East Bloc has been expensively upgraded from post-Soviet decay to, er, post-Soviet. But there’s still much for the retro traveller, if you like to look . . .

Poster Soviet Warsaw

Achtung - 1

This poster campaign is currently running on the streets of Warsaw. Could it be a ‘public information’ exercise funded by the current nationalists? Or just part of the 25th International Poster Biennale?

There’s a lot of curious poster art around at the moment. ‘Dead Dog On A Green Background‘ is the official poster of the event. I think.

A close inspection suggests the publisher is rhminfo@wp.pl  Maybe they will write in and tell us?


Here We Go Loop The Loop


For some reason, this song comes to mind when I fly Ukrainian Airlines.

I was on an early flight once from London to Kiev and desperate for a cup of coffee. I had Grivna and Sterling, but they only took Euros. Not the departure nor the destination currency. Loopy?

Next time out, I was well-prepared with Euros. ‘I’d love a coffee’, I said, as the wheelie sidled up the aisle.

The ‘hostess’ said, ‘It isn’t free’. Strange. Do I look like someone who can’t afford a cup of coffee?

Anyway, it turned out to be 2 Euro, which is free by Ryanair standards.

Shop Til You Drop. Off.

24 Hour - 1

In Sardinia, I was rather amused by the 24 hour ice cream shops. Well, you never know when you might have a panic attack. Poles, it seems, have different priorities.

To be honest, I was rather surprised at so much 24 hour alkohole. All the mini-markets here seem to be at least 6 – 22, which doesn’t leave a whole heap of time for insomnia.

‘It’s Warsaw’, my friend explained. ‘I know places where you can buy potatoes at three in the morning.’ Oh right. Time to knock up a batch of potato vodka.

Migrant Crisis

Migrant Crisis - 1

In 2014, only 0.2% of the Polish population were immigrants. Politicians were more worried about losing plumbers to the UK. But now the debate is changing, driven by busloads of Ukrainians.

It’s no longer simply those fleeing the war. In any case, most of those in Eastern Ukraine go to Russia. The growing number – some say it’s over the million – are economic migrants. The Ukrainian economy is a catastrophe.

Continue reading →

When Prussia Met Russia

torun17 copy

Before WW1, Torun was the German speaking, Prussian town of Thorn. Situated on the border of Prussia and Russia, it became a fortress town. Prussians invested in quite a few of these – Koenigsberg is another example – though it was largely a futile occupation. No amount of bricks could keep up with advances in artillery technology.

The funny part is that this front line fortress was never damaged in over 700 years of turbulent history and even came through WW2 without a scratch.

Continue reading →

Wiki Lechs

Bydgoszcz, 1981-03-20. Wyst¹pienie przywódcy NSZZ Solidarnoœæ Lecha Wa³êsy na temat wydarzeñ bydgoskich. 19 marca podczas sesji Wojewódzkiej Rady Narodowej zostaj¹ pobici przez funkcjonariuszy Milicji Obywatelskiej dzia³acze zwi¹zkowi Jan Rulewski, Mariusz £abentowicz i Micha³ Bartoszcze. By³a to jawna prowokacja w³adz, maj¹ca na celu obci¹¿enie Solidarnoœci odpowiedzialnoœci¹ za przerwanie spokoju spo³ecznego. W³adze Zwi¹zku og³osi³y gotowoœæ strajkow¹ na terenie ca³ego kraju. ma PAP/Jerzy Koœnik

I only just arrive in Poland and there’s a national scandal. Leaked documents show that Lech Walesa, the darling of Western ‘democracy assistance’, was in fact a paid informer for the Communists.

Well, the documents weren’t exactly leaked. Some old dear turns up at Government HQ asking for money.


Today’s Timewaster

Interactive Warsaw

This site can distract you for some time. It’s an interactive map of pre-war Warsaw. The buildings in red disappeared during the war. The green buildings are still there in some form. All are linked to photographs from the National Archive. This section is the restored old town, so there’s rather more green than in other areas. Start with the main fotoplan at Warsawa1939.pl