Our first base in Poland was one of the more unremarkable small towns I’ve stayed in. My teenage son, who’d been before, was adamant* I wouldn’t find anything to write about, and it looked that way when we arrived. I’ve been to Farnworth on a wet Friday in February (the Britannia, Bombardier NBSS 1), and Laviska Gorne looked less inviting than that in the fog.
This was the view from our vaguely Communist era flat, one of several thousand in town, in the morning. Mines and metallurgy still rule here.
As I will never tire of saying, nowhere on this great planet of ours is without merit, and the next morning brought sunshine, brass bands and beer (potentially).
I may have been the only foreign tourist, ever, but certainly the first to show any photographic interest in their bars, consisting of Nissen huts and pizza places serving more Tyskie than pizza. No architectural gems here, but some great eastern European colour.
Our Polish hosts had guided us to Krakow, the mines, and a number of of smartish neighbourhood eateries with the usual well known brands. They were determined to take me round the Tyskie brewery on my birthday too, but I wanted to see dull Poland. After all, I’ve seen St Neots and lived.
It took quite some convincing to be allowed instead to venture into their local bars. The Polish Grandad described them as “unsympathetic“, while I got the impression Mrs RM’s friend felt them firmly male-only. Mrs RM isn’t scared of anything, though.
A minute from our flat, Antalek beckoned.
This is the Polish equivalent of the boozer in Erlangan that I loved, though lacking the Landbier or aggressive smoking of that gem.
Just like you would in a craft beer bar in Krakow, we went for one of each of the draft products. The Tyskie, Zywiec, and Zubr were near identical, and with no bottled options in sight. Unlike Stockport, you can’t nip over the road for a Holts or Robbies when you get bored of Sam Smiths here. Only £2 for a pint and two halves mind.
The beer was secondary though. I wanted to know what the locals were saying (they showed no interest in me or the two blondes). The penalty for Bayern’s 3rd ? The possibility of a Christmas supply of Cloudwater DIPA ? The Mother-in-Law’s cooking ?
No, it was apparently a detailed list of their meals that day, and some reflections on their old schools. BRAPA would have loved it, if Simon understood Polish.
The next “pub”on the list, a restaurant above the main supermarket, had closed at 9pm. It looked like the sort of food court you find in Freshney Place, Grimsby, but with beer.
That left the central Pizza Brava hidden next to the dustbins and the shop that sold beer and sweets. Looks can be deceiving.
There were a handful of drinkers in here, and clearly the pizza parlours round here serve as bars for the young. I liked this a lot; as an 80s style hangout with MTV and pool it was pretty decent. In St Neots it would clean up. Alongside the big Tyskie font they had bottles of Ksiazece Golden Ale, which was a revelation I might break my rules and write about later.
The pizza was pretty good too, £2 for a giant Margherita, though food seemed pretty secondary. By 11pm the town’s bars were all closed. In Krakow they’d have just been getting going.
You can’t beat real pubs, anywhere in the world. Get down to yours on Christmas morning.
*not literally of course