January 4th, 2008


the road to racziborz

The first thing you notice about Poland is that it smells. Particularly in the industrial southwest, in towns like Opole and Sosnowiec and Gliwice and Bytom and Zabzre and Katowice, the poisoned heart of Upper Silesia. It's the smell of coking plants and steelworks and countless domestic chimneys burning coal. A long time ago, just before my first visit to Poland, the Mirror sent Anton Antonowicz there because Zabrze had been designated the most polluted town in Europe, and he wrote a rather good piece about how terrible the place was, so when I got there I naturally asked if we could go to Zabrze. And I looked at Zabzre and I thought, `This isn't so bad. What's all the fuss about?'
Poland smells like Sheffield smelled when I was growing up, before the Clean Air Act, and as such it's a smell that goes straight to my hindbrain. It smells like going home.
Although I will agree with Bogna that Bytom is a hard place to love.

I'm going to ramble for a bit, so if anyone fancies looking at some LolCats instead you'll find them here. For anyone else, I'm over Collapse )
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