After the Great Blood-Giving Debacle in Bydgoszcz, my host family and I ventured out onto the road to visit the nearby student town of Toruń.
Toruń reminded me somewhat of Kingston, Canada: a student town, busy at night with all sorts of young folks, mixed in with the few businesses that have made a go of operating in this town. Our starting point was interesting enough: parking on the street that along which was placed a university, a church and… a prison. It’s an interesting combination to me, particularly when they’re so close.
The city is renowned as the birth-place of Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus, as he is generally known), some guy who had a crazy idea that the sun was the centre of the universe and not the Earth (which didn’t endear him to the Pope). All very interesting stuff I’m sure. Like good tourists, we took photos of his statue.
We went on a short walking tour which began in Stare Miasto (Old Town), continued down ulica Żeglarska to view St. John’s Church. After having seen a few churches, things begin to look, well… the same. The historical importance of this church, however, is that it is the second oldest church in Poland (but the oldest brick building) and the place where Mr. Copernicus got baptized.
Our walk continued outside the old city gates to view the River Wisła and then back towards the Old Town square. Toruń does have some pretty streets and buildings, which figures since it was founded over 800 years ago. That means there’s lots and lots of medieval buildings. Not only that, some of the Christmas decorations were still up and they gave the city a festive feel. Looks like a nice place to study, or try to anyway. For dinner we stopped into one of the local restaurants and it is here that I discovered żurek, a soup. It’s my favourite soup in Poland (and very cheap at the Milk Bars). You can see a recipe here.
On our way back to the car (and hoping that it hadn’t been stolen or vandalized by the neighbours, though we would accept baptized), a musician ran up to me, offering to play a song on his guitar if I gave him some money. Muttering a few words in Polish, I gave the man a few coins. He wasn’t bad, but he certainly wasn’t the best. He sang something in Polish, I’m not sure what, before some other Polish drunk dude tried to join in. In any event, I can’t begrudge a man for trying and staying out in the cold like that.
That was about it for Toruń. The one thing I learned in Toruń is that Poland looks better at night when the light bounces off of the wet streets. I visited in the winter, however, so maybe things are different in the summer. I imagine Poland would look better in the daytime during the summer months.
And with that, we found the car, untouched by the students, priests or prisoners, and headed back to Bydgoszcz. Our next day trip, two days later, took us to Trójmiasto (“three-cities”).