The sun slowly starts to rise as if climbing gentle eastern slopes of Beech Mountains towering the east bank of Odra River – second largest river in Poland. Here in its upper run it splits in two massive arms that give impression as if they were two completely separate rivers.
We are in Szczecin, seventh largest city in Poland by population and third largest by area. Only few know (mostly locals) it is the greenest city in Poland embracing many parks and forrest areas within its city limits.
In fact city seems to be clasped between three large Forrest complexes : Puszcza Bukowa, Puszcza Goleniowska and Puszcza Wkrzańska – green lunges of the city and a fabulous recreational areas with shimmering lakes, winding gorges, wide-banked rivers and even white-sand beaches of Bay of Pomerania if you cut through the pine forests of Puszcza Wkrzańska to its northern edge.
City itself however is not perceived as a spectacular one. Its architectural beauty and splendour can only be seen now mostly on old pre-war photographs.
Heavily bombed by the Allies during WWII the city was nearly flatten-out and had to be restored which took nearly 3 decades after the war.
However not everything is lost from its former splendour.
Take a walk for example through the city centre quarters, have a look at the secessional façades – some of them crying for a bit of paint and plaster, some restored to its glory days. If you know where to look you might spot architectural gems hidden in the details.
Of course it is by far not Paris of the East but if you look at the layout of the city with its wide avenues and massive roundabouts you might find some resemblance of Paris.
In fact city architects took French capital as an example.
Nowadays Szczecin consist mostly of modern architecture, even its “Old Town” is only a reconstruction. It’s rather hard to spot around here crowds of tourist lazily strolling its cobblestone streets just like in Kraków or Poznań but if you decide to come here as a tourist you won’t feel a stranger. It is a lively city still waiting to be discovered.
This might be one of the reasons it isn’t overly exepensive.
A taxi ride for example from main train station to one of the city centre hotels would not cost you more than 3-4 Euros.
Basically taxis in Szczecin aren’t expensive and they are great way to explore the city and even beyond. A city ride is hardly ever more than 4 Euros however if you have more time and decide to ramble beyond city centre to explore leafy outskirts taxi shouldn’t be more than 6-7 Euros.
Take for example a ride to Głębokie (Deep)Lake – tucked away between shady oak, beech and pine forrest it’s a shimmering gem with its sandy beach and blazing colours of trees beautifully reflected in lake’s still blue waters if you come here in mid October.
Taxi however is not necessary, you can come here by tram: line 1 and 9 will readily take you back to the heart of the city.
In general Szczecin has quite decent public transport consisting of buses and about ten lines of trams covering most of the city centre and some of the outskirts.
Taxis are however never difficult to find.
Probably the most expensive trip you can take would be the one to the airport which is located over 40 kilometres from the city centre. This one could be a bit of a dent to the budget as it is about 45 Euros.
You can take a bus or train instead which would be only a small portion of a taxi fare.
In general Szczecin is a great city both to visit and to live and if you ever give it a chance you shouldn’t be disappointed.