“ Located in the north-western section of Poland „
Miedzyzdroje. First of all how do you pronounce it? Okay, I'll have a go. Something like this Me-en-zee-za-droya. Not easy is it?
~~~~~~~Where and what?~~~~~~~~~
Where the heck is it and what is it? Miedzyzdroje is a very popular seaside resort on the Polish Baltic Coast in western Pommerania. I had never heard of the town until my son and daughter-in-law suggested we visit when we were staying in Grzybowo in June. The drive from Gyzbowo was well over 60 minutes as the roads were slow and when I am on holiday for only a week I don't always want to be stuck in a car driving to and fro. Seeing that we had been informed that Miedzyzdroje was a spectacular place to see, resembled the French city of Cannes and had an interesting pier we thought it was somewhere we would regret seeing if we passed it by so off we went.
Having parked the car we walked up a steep road which leads straight on to the main Promenade Gwiazd. I could see evidence of a long lost grandeur as the first building I noticed was the Kino Baltyk; a beautiful building which looked in disrepair. I couldn't work out if the building had suffered fire damage or was just derelict. Whatever the damage it was sad to see such an elegant building in this state. On the same side of the road there were other grand villas that in their hey day would have looked very spectacular but looked slightly out of place with all the other tacky souvenir stalls and ice cream parlours.
I reckon this was once an elegant resort that has become jaded and is being redesigned and rebuilt. The problem being that the new buildings are in extremely bad taste and not to my liking at all. It all seemed so tacky with endless arcade amusements, cheap clothes and sunglasses stalls, fish and chip cafes, kebab and burger joints etc. I know all seaside resorts have these things but in Miedzyzdroje there seemed so much tack.
~~~~~~~So what is the pier like?~~~~~~~
Miedzyzdroje's Molo or pier overlooks the Baltic Sea from its very long, sandy beach. The entrance to the pier is attractive in a Disneyland way with two white towers which have a modern yet Victorian style. The towers and arched entrance do give the pier a sense of glamour although it be a tacky one. I think I would have much preferred the wooden jetty that would have overlooked the ocean way back in 1885.
Walking through the archway I was even less impressed as it is an area filled with tacky shopping outlets selling everything from cheap pottery, Indian cotton dresses and seaside hats. Several cafes are dotted around and the smell of fresh coffee and creamy buns and cakes is quite evocative but we passed on this area as it was busy, bustling and too noisy.
For some reason we thought we might have to pay to walk on the actual pier which is a bridge/walkway covering 395 metres. The sea was calm and there was no wind so our walk across the pier was a gentle one. So what is it like - this famous pier? Rather dull in my opinion. The platform of the pier is concrete with the sides of the bridge also made from reinforced concrete painted in a metal grey colour. The whole appearance is one of straight lines apart from the curved lamps set at intervals along the walkway. Benches are placed so you can stop, sit down, look at the sea, have a coffee or an ice cream from one of the kiosks along the pier. I didn't think the pier seemed very long although we didn't go to the very end where the walkway changes into the passenger entrance to the harbour. This is where you can catch ferries to Ahlbeck in Germany which sounds interesting and something we will definitely do if we visit Miedzyzdroje again. Apart from ice cream and coffee outlets along the pier there are various booths advertising real estate and photographers. The pier is used every year to promote Polish film, art and culture festivals so it is a perfect place for photo shoots.
The views from the pier are of both sides of the beach which is long and very white. Communist style hotel blocks can be seen from one side of the pier but these aren't that interesting. In the daytime I think the pier and its views are pretty drab. In the evening, when all the circular lamps are switched on and the sun is setting making the sky into a red and purple mass then it may look more appealing. As for the town of Miedzyzdroje looking like Cannes you can take my word for it - it doesn't look anything like Cannes having been to this very glamorous city on the French Riviera many times. I am glad I visited just for the experience but would only go back to catch a ferry to Germany. I think they haven't made the best use of the pier and it would be far more attractive if it was a little more colourful and ornate.
*****The Promenade of Stars******
One of the main reasons for taking a trip to Miedzyzdroje was to see the Promenade of Stars. As you know there is the famous Avenue of Stars (La Croisette) in Cannes where famous movie actors meet every year for photo shoots when the film festival is showing. The Avenue is somewhere to be and somewhere to be seen. Promenade Gwiazd has a similar atmosphere except without the palm trees and glorious villas.
Gwiazd is the Polish word for celebrity and here on the pavement on the Promenade are several hands belonging to Polish actors imprinted on amber commemorative plates. The walk up to the Promenade is very attractive with formal gardens blooming with colourful displays of flowers, neat hedges and many paths. The length of the Promenade isn't too long and when you reach the end you can either walk down to the sea and beach or go back into the main hub of the town through the gardens. The actual commemorative plates are quite small. A little bigger than the average hand size. I suppose I was expecting something larger and more glamorous.
I am not very au fait with the names of Polish actors although I recognise a lot from TV. I remember faces but never names. Polish names aren't the easiest to remember at the best of times. Two hands I wanted to find were the hands belonging to Polanski and Waida. I missed Waida's because his imprint isn't actually a hand. In fact, I haven't a clue what it is. It just looks like a mountainous blob made from bronze and amber with his name written underneath. I was a little disappointed with this.
My walk on the Promenade was very slow as there are a lot of hands to look at and I didn't know which to look at first. It is fascinating how they all come in different shapes and sizes. It is also interesting to look at the handwriting of the stars as they have all signed their handprints underneath. One of the names I did recognise was Danuta Stenka who acts in TV as well as film. She starred in my favourite TV serial about the Polish Underground; Czas Honoru. There are quite a few well known actors also in this series but for the life of me I couldn't remember their names - only faces. Of course I was determined to find Polanski's handprint which we did and my husband placed his hand on the top and it matched so he has exactly the same hand size and shape as Roman Polanski. I saw other people sizing up famous hand prints with their own too.
I am not sure how many hand prints there are on the Promenade but my favourite ones are not actually hand prints. I really like the bronze sword with flames behind it. This is to commemorate Jerzy Hoffman; a Polish director and screenwriter who has won many awards and is well known throughout Poland. The fire and sword motif is from the film he directed in 1999 of the same name. I also like the bronze top hat with two carnations splayed at either side of the hat. This plaque is to commemorate Jeremi Przybora who was amongst other things an actor, radio presenter and poet. He was known for wearing a top hat on stage and during the Warsaw Uprising was in charge of the civil radio broadcasts on Polish radio.
Overall, I enjoyed looking at the commemorative hands and plaques. It was a lot of fun and interesting too. The promenade is very open and I think it needs shade as the day we visited the sun did actually come out in the end and beamed down on our heads. My daughter-in-law felt queasy with the sun's rays and had to find some shade. Still, I liked the idea of the promenade mingling in with the gardens and the colours of the flowers were a good contrast against the concrete, amber and bronze.
Plaza Miedzyzdroje is hailed as one of the town's most beautiful features. During my visit in the second week of June the east side of the beach which is to the right of the pier was teeming with sunbathers and families playing on the beach. As someone who loves beaches but mainly wild, untamed beaches this was not what I expected. Having driven from Grzybowo where the beach was nearly empty I was quite shocked to see all these people milling around.
We had our dog with us and the first thing we saw when we went to approach the beach was a huge sign saying that dogs weren't allowed. Fortunately this long, sandy beach is split into sections and signposted with letters. The entrance we first tried was F and the section of beach where dogs were allowed was J which was quite a long way off. We decided to have an ice cream each and then go back to the car and drive to the J section of the beach.
Having driven through the back of the town we spotted a sign for the beach which turned out to be a forest path. This was nice as it was so cool and shady but the minute we stepped out of the car we were bitten by mosquitoes - some of the biggest I have seen. We parked the car in the forest and then made our way through an opening. This was not a designated path to the beach and in theory we should have found the proper opening. It isn't the done thing in Poland to walk on rough trails but this time we decided to risk it. I might add that we did find the correct path on leaving the beach.
I was so pleased we decided to find the J section of beach as it was beautiful, just like the one at Grzybowo. Hardly a soul on the sand and the waves slowly rushing to the shore. It was so peaceful away from the crowds, trampolines and water slides which are all placed along the other sections of beach. In the distance we could see the pier and the tall white cliff rising high above the water and then suddenly disappearing into the sea.
The sea was much calmer than further up the coast although I wasn't sure about the colour of water - a muddy brown colour with lots of algae floating around. My son swam in the sea and wasn't bothered about the colour or algae. I had a small paddle but it was too cold for me to swim in.
I am glad I made the effort to visit the J section of the beach at Miedzyzdroje and if I was spending more than a day in the resort I would have visited this beach every day rather than the over populated section of the beach. For families and people who love crowded beaches with lots of activities then the other sections of the beach are fine. All different sorts of equipment to play games on the beach can be hired from outlets on the pier and on the eastern shore fishing is very popular. Here, you will be able to see small fishing boats who go out to catch fresh fish for nearby restaurants.
~~~~~~~There must be a park - every town in Poland has several parks!~~~~~~~~~
Frederic Chopin Spa Park is somewhere we found in Miedzyzdroje when crossing the road from the Promenade Gwiazd. Although the park shares the same address as the Promenade it is on the other side of the road and a different part of the town altogether. To enter the park you have to walk down a very long entrance which runs at the side of the Wax Works and Municipal Cultural Centre. I liked the entrance as it was shady and had a tranquil feel about it. It took me back in time - I could see myself dressed in a long, flowing gown, parasol in my hand, strolling slowly but surely past the graceful willow trees.
The park was designed in the nineteenth century and I would say is very formal. There are no areas of rough ground or wild plants. Everything is neat and precise with manicured hedges, cropped lawns and colour coordinated flower beds. As in all Polish parks there are many wooden benches situated throughout the park, generally grouped together. There are two main points of interest and they are: the central fountain which is shaped like a large sun dial where the water flows from the top of the dial into a large circular pool set in a cobbled concrete circle. The fountain can be seen from every entrance and is a good focal point. The other interesting aspect of the park is the grassy area sectioned off underneath green shrubs close to the main entrance. Here, there is a black marble bust of Frederic Chopin mounted on a concrete plinth set into a square edged with red and white flowers. I should imagine this monument is lit up in the evening and the light shining on the black marble will look very attractive. Having seen many monuments dedicated to Chopin throughout Poland I would say that this is a very good likeness.
The overall look of the park is one of precision and absolute tidiness. Litter bins are placed all the way through the park and I also noticed bird boxes attached to certain trees. We walked straight through the park to the back of Miedzyzdroje which has a much quieter feel than the front of the town. In this part of town there is a wooden chapel and several low key boarding houses and small hotels.
I liked the Frederic Chopin Spa Park and found our walk a very peaceful one. I particular liked the willow trees and the colourful borders.
So there you have a few of the highlights of the town. Overall, I guess I was a little disappointed as I wasn't keen on the pier or the beach apart from the J section. I suppose it isn't the right place for me but for people who like traditional seaside places with lots of bad taste attractions then this will pass the test.
On the other hand, it isn't all bad - I liked the Promenade of Stars and I was pleased to find Roman Polanski's hand print. I liked the park where Frederic Chopin's bust stands. The gardens along the front were very attractive too and very near to the Kino Baltyk was a stunning Victorian looking building which was a hotel. I noticed they have built a new Kino very close to the pier which is in the same style as the two white towers of the pier. It certainly stands out and in its own way is attractive but again - bad taste.
There are lots of different types of accommodation so visitors have a good choice and many food outlets so you will never starve at this resort. I didn't see any proper restaurants. I mean a restaurant that wasn't offering fish and chips, kebabs, burgers or salad. We only tested the ice cream and there are many stalls and parlours to choose from. Prices are very cheap - just over a pound for a very large cornet filled with as many flavours as you like. You can also have a sauce of your choice and crushed nuts poured over the top.
We spent the whole day in Miedzyzdroje and most of that time was walking on the Promenade of Stars and on the queiter section of the beach. I am glad I visited but I don't think I would go back. It is far too tacky and nothing at all like the French resort of Cannes.
* I do not have a Polish keyboard so there a re a few squiggles missing off the top of some words. I can cut and paste but when posted doesn't read right so I have chosen to omit them.*