Sound Sculpture in Szczecin

Last month for me was exceptionally full of events in Berlin during the work week, and shorter or longer getaways during the weekends. Similarly like last year around springtime, I felt tempted to explore not only Berlin and Brandenburg, but also the coastline.

Triggered by the concert of one of my favourite Polish electronic music producers in the newly built Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, together with my friend, we decided to spend a weekend in Szczecin, the biggest Polish city situated next to the North-Eastern frontier.

Typically people would go there on the way to some other locations: like for instance Polish seaside towns or even more popular summer festivals, like Plötzlich am Meer. The train ride to Szczecin would take us less than 2 hours and cost… less than 6 EUR, if you manage to find your ‘Berlin-Brandenburg-Ticket’ group, which is almost a ritual part of this route. Otherwise, if you don’t feel like socializing, you can stick to a special fare, individual ticket for 10 EUR.

Szczecin itself has its specific charm. On one hand, it’s probably one of the most spacious cities in terms of territory: situated by the bay, river and countless lakes, it is indeed huge. Given its difficult, war, post-war and heavily industrialised history, it also seems derelict or unproportionally uncrowded comparing to its size. This has a lot to do with the migrations to other bigger cities or neighbouring Germany. So obviously there are places one shouldn’t visit after the sun goes down.

However, there are some sparkles of creativity in reconstructing the city, and bringing more cultural events. The area surrounding the castle and the promenade is full of interesting street art and the city tries to attract different people by hosting cultural events such as Kontrapunkt, or at least inviting unusual artists like Skalpel for the electronic music showcases in the extraordinary set up in the Philharmonic, which is worth visiting itself.

I enjoyed this visit greatly, given that I was pointed many recommendations by my friends originating from Szczecin and the concert exceeded my expectations.

If you like history, scratching beyond the surface, and discovering the beauty in the atypically interesting architecture, yet you’re bold enough – visiting Szczecin sounds good in combining it with one of its cultural events.

 

 

Beyond the Berliner Ring Part One: Rügen

Living in Berlin can devour all of your free time easily without making you notice how quickly it all flies. That how I could easily define my first three months of 2015. Especially that a lot of places still seem so new to me, or at least I still haven’t got time to become tired of them. But there were moments my soul just cried to get the hell out of the city, or at least out of its glass-and-concrete core. So I thought Easter break would be a great occasion to visit Ostsee (German name for the Baltic Sea), and in particular: Rügen Island.

Rugen

Long before I’ve got to know this location due to the story of infamous Prora, a monstrous building from the Nazi-era which was planned to become seaside resort for the 3rd Reich workers. It was supposed to gather more than 250 thousands of people for the collective holidays programme, one of the pilars of the KdF policy. The building was never completely finished and for me it currently stands mostly as the monument of how ill-minded politics can lead to unfortunate architectonic actions. More information (in German) can be found in this documentary. Apparently, nowadays there are plans to refurbish the building into some holiday apartaments and a residence for the elderly. For those who rather feel like experiencing this place’s decay altogether with excellent dark kind of music, Her Damit Festival in May could be an interesting option though.

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But Rügen is much more than Prora’s Monster. Actually, it is the Northernmost tip of Germany (Arcona Weather Station), famous for white-sand beaches, dating back 19th-century towns (Putbus!) and resorts (like Binz, where I decided to stay). Apart from that one can find lakes and picturesque bays within the island, hanseatic architecture and just breathtaking, hard to describe in words cliffs (those of the Jasmund National Park!). As a person who spent a great deal of her childhood on the Baltic Sea coast in Poland, where my family had always a very strong affiction to travel, it gave me a nice, familiar feeling.

The food, the look of the resorts, and finally, the specific smell of the salty and cold sea are probably the things that can’t be found on the other coasts. Even if I didn’t dare to take a plunge into the 5-degree-cold water and the aluminium-cooked herring is not comparable to the Mediterranean or Atlantic seafood, I enjoyed greatly this long weekend, reconnecting with the familiar memories in a brand new place, on the other side of the border. Given it’s not that far away from Berlin, some 3-hours-drive by bus or by the Deutsche Bahn, I am seriously considering another short weekend getaway with my bike to discover further this magic island. And the sea, which always teaches me (thank you for this phrase, Pablo Neruda!).

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