On the Road: Łódź, Poland
Łódź, pronounced "woodge", isn't necessarily a place that would top the list of anyone's European travel circuit. It probably wouldn't even be included in the top fifty. On first glance, it doesn't have any iconic monuments like the Colosseum of Rome or the Eiffel Tower of Paris. And it doesn't seem to be known for its remarkable culinary scene. But, if you are like me and interested in all things art, you may just want to rethink that list. Łødź is a city of surprises.
The street art scene is pretty spectacular in Łódź. So much so that I planned a trip here for the sole purpose of seeing it. By doing so, I was rewarded with beauty beyond my expectations and surprised by the subtle charm of a city of which I knew next to nothing.
Much of the work which has been done in the city has been curated by Urban Forms which holds a festival every summer, drawing talented artists from around the globe. This year's event brought Okuda from Spain, Peeta and Awer from Italy, Viktor Puzin from Russia, and 1010 from Germany. And recently (after the festival), INO from Greece painted an impressively large wall to round off the list of new work.
The newest work by INO for Urban Forms (above)
The walls by Okuda, Viktor Puzin, Peeta and Awer from this year's festival (below)
In addition to this year's walls, Urban Forms has curated the work of artists from across the globe for nearly a decade in Łódz. Some of the artists whose work is represented on the city's walls include Eduardo Kobra, Bordalo, Paola Delfin and ROA, whose walls are instantly recognizable to street art fans. But there is much more to see.
Before you start your day, you'll need a good breakfast. Head on down to Piotrkowska Street, one of the best streets in town for shopping and food, and pop into Agrafka for a delicious Breakfast Burger. Wash it down with a local lager. (It's okay to have a beer with breakfast. You're in Eastern Europe, after all.)
After fueling up, you are ready to take on the day! But first, you need to know where to find the amazing work.
The walls in Łódz are huge and immediately command your attention. To make the most of your time, head to Street Art Cities and download the app for the locations of all the best walls in the city. Local street art hunter, Wojciech Jaskólski, has done the legwork so that all you have to do is get there. You can see a majority of the walls in a couple days. And you will definitely not be disappointed.
The best method for seeing the walls and discovering the beauty of this city is by bicycle. Download the "Next Bike" app for access to their public bikes located all over the city. With over 1500 bikes at over 150 stations, and at a cost of about 25 cents for a few hours, it is quite an easy (and affordable) way to get around and check out those walls.
Work shown by: INTI, Daleast, Borondo, Vhils, Caro Pepe, Mik Shida, Etam Cru, Messy Desk, Boa Mistura, Aryz, Otecki, Sainer, Kenor, Tone, Alexis Diaz, Veraicon, Dede Bandaid, Stormie Mills, Bezt, Lump, Cekas, Meisal and Ovka, Egon Fietke, Hyuro, Gregor Gonsior, Nunca and Untay.
I don't want to give the impression that Łódź has nothing to offer aside from its urban walls. While pedaling along from one piece to the next, you will find yourself riding through beautiful gardens and past some lovely Polish architecture. Even though there is no Leaning Tower or Arc de Triomphe, there is beauty to be found in Łódź for sure.
At the end of a long day of mural hunting through Łódź's streets, you deserve an amazing meal that won't break the bank. I highly recommend Lokal, a spot which is fairly sparse on the decor (at least when I was there), but hits it out of the park with its 'local food, local music, local art' slogan. For my party of three, we started with a "fish board" of fried sardines and delicate, yet flavorful, pickled fish. We also tried their local Łódź soup which, although sour, had so much flavor that it was the hit of the meal. For our mains, we had pork cheek over sauerkraut with fried gnocchi, carrot couscous with asparagus, and baked pike with zucchini pancakes, along with 2 liters of wine. The entire meal was less than 30 bucks a person. (Time to move to Łødź!)
So, do yourself a favor and think outside the box on your next trip to Europe. Instead of the standard vacation to see the monuments of Western Europe, head east to Poland and stop off in Łódź for a few days. You'll be treated to an amazing collection of street art, some tasty Polish food and some beautiful sights along the way!
What are you waiting for? Łodź is calling.