Stettin (Szczecin), Poland – All New to Us
Posted on June 20, 2015
Located exactly on the German-Polish border, Stettin was one place I wanted to visit because of its recent history. Originally a Polish settlement, it was ruled by Sweden for a hundred years in the 17th century. Then it fell under Prussian domination and became almost 100% German by the time of the Second World War. As the Germans retreated in the face of the Red Army, the city was almost totally destroyed. Russia grabbed lands in the east of Poland, uprooted the local agraian people and resettled them in Stettin and other former German cities. Then the city became 100% Polish. Not a single German or Jew remained.
During the rebuilding of Stettin, a decision was made to completely remove all traces of German heritage and replace them with something the Poles could identify with, namely Renaissance architecture for the time before German and Swedish occupation. I thought it was a rather strange place. Pockmarked with some really classy stone buildings from the past 100 years or so, it has largely been restored in the stark Soviet “Social Realism” style. The market square exemplifies the effort. One half is enclosed by concrete apartment buildings, recently well renovated. The other half is fake Renaissance, although actually quite nice and lively.
We had parked our car rather far from the small hub of action so we saw quite a bit of the less developed part of town as we walked to the Altstadt. Let’s go for a walk.
Enough touring around. We got hungry and pizza was a word we really understood. Did we ever hit the jackpot! We ordered a massive 48cm version and devoured most of it. Cost us $4.50.
We had a little adventure at our $18 Airbnb on the outskirts of town. Our host was away in Kazakstan so he arranged for his mother to let us in and show us around. She hurriedly showed us how to enter a code to unlock the front door, but never verified that we understood. She showed us our large room and the shared kitchen and the three bathrooms (!) we might want to use. She described the broken keyless lock on our bedroom door and how to use shims to keep the door from closing. We really didn’t understand anything about this matter. Whether we understood or not went quite past her. Otherwise she was all heart and nice as could be as she babbled away in her inscrutable language.
We settled in but found no beds. We discovered that the three sofas made into beds, with some effort, and found linens in a closet. We made our beds and went out to discover the town. We thought she had indicated that the front door would be unlocked till later that night, and that we could ring the doorbell if it was locked. We didn’t worry about the entry code.
We returned at 9:00pm. The door was locked. The doorbell got no response. We went to her quarters across the court and rang all the doorbells until she appeared at an upstairs window, dressed for bed. She sent her husband down to open the door.
He was nice and brought us a bottle of water for our room. Then he closed the door and left. We were in a large building all to ourselves. When we later tried to open our bedroom door it was firmly locked – from the outside. We were locked in! A window facing the street was too high to jump out onto the ground. The street was deserted and night was falling. We had no bathroom. We were really prisoners.
Luck would have it that the mother must have realized that we could be in trouble with the door. She came to our aid and we jimmied the door with the wedges so it stayed ajar all night.
We left early the next morning before anyone next door was stirring.
We had a long drive to Danzig (Gdansk) ahead of us.