Visiting Poland at this time of the year is always a magical experience: all the festive decorations adorning cosy cafes, an anticipation of snow in the air and, of course, that feeling of home for me. For some reason, I am always drawn to visiting a city in my country rather than anywhere else at this time. Perhaps, it’s exactly because of that homely, comfortable warmth that this is starting to become an annual tradition. Or, it could be because Poland knows exactly how to tap into the Christmas spirit in a subtle, sprinkle-in-the-air kind of way. This year, we chose Poznań for our wintery getaway, in search of croissants, snowflakes and that enchanting festive feeling.
Our days were spent wandering around the beautiful market square, with cosy stops for mulled wine in between sightseeing, and embracing a slow approach to our weekend break. Here, we were in no rush to get to anywhere or with any concrete plans; the biggest decision we had to make was which cafe would be most hyggelig and welcoming. It was blissful to be able to take a step back from everyday life and just be. One of the things that I appreciated the most was being able to walk everywhere; the freedom of not having to use public transport, which I have just about had enough of here at home, was probably the greatest gift I could have asked for this holiday! Our little apartment was ideally located on a quiet street, a block away from the whirlwind of activity on the main square.
Of course, one of the main allures of a festive getaway are the charming Christmas markets that await. This year, we were spoiled with two in the city centre: several stalls snaking around a portion of Stary Rynek and another cute, compact market at Plac Wolności with a bar serving mulled drinks and traditional Polish food. We split our time between the two, sampling the festive delights and picking up handmade gifts. Even the wintery ferris wheel managed to entice us, but turned out to be more panic-inducing than the romantic activity we envisioned… the less said about it, the better! Here at the markets, the festive feeling enveloped us with every sip of mulled wine and each Christmas carol.
With no daylight saving, our days in Poland were short and dusk would greet us in the late afternoon, when the main square became illuminated with twinkling lights and the most festive atmosphere. Candlelit dinners, evening drinks in cosy bars and strolls around the Christmas markets were the idyllic end to each slow, thoughtful day. To add to the Christmas spirit, Poznań’s annual ice sculpture festival happened to fall on the same weekend that we were there. The creations themselves were beautiful in every way but what was really striking was the air of excitement around every corner; the ice festival is so clearly an occasion of pride for Poznań and its residents, which made the event all the more endearing and delightful to be a part of.
With such a wonderful ambience in the city and our laid-back mindset to this holiday, it was difficult to say goodbye and return to real life. We may have left the festive feeling at the airport but it was there in full glow, reminding us of happier times and the lighter moments in life. I suppose that is what made this winter break even more special.
Where is your favourite place to visit at Christmas?