Sydney Paulden was in a small group shown round North Poland’s Three Cities by Boruslaw Becla, Director of the Polish Tourist Office in London, in advance of Euro 2012 Football ChampionshipsIn a packed itinerary of only three days, we enjoyed great company with lots of jokes and good humour. The food was not only plentiful but beautifully served and very, very fresh. The sightseeing was fascinating. And there was an array of modern, high quality facilities for events of all types and sizes.
In Gdansk on Poland’s Baltic coast.
Why were we there?
Well, to all intents and purposes, to have a good time, so that objective was certainly achieved.
However, we did attend the first football match to be played at the brand new 41,000-seat PGE Arena Gdansk. Poland took on Germany. This is the first stadium to be completed of the four that Poland is constructing to hold the EURO 2012 UEFA championships in June. The other three venues are in Warsaw, Poznan and Wroclaw.
The match was an exciting 2-2 draw, much of the excitement coming from the mistakes made in front of goal by both sides, although Arsenal goal keeper Wojciech Szczesny did a great job for the home country. Poland’s passion for football was very evident when Poland went in front in the 90th minute, only to see Germany equalise in time added on.
Access to the new stadium was well organised and visibility inside very good.
The friendly match was all the more apposite, as the stadium design is the work of German architects. It is very modern, but cleverly related to its location. The stadium design features roof supports to resemble the hull of a ship under construction.
Gdansk is the home of the shipyard where the movement Solidarity was started by Lech Walesa, then a shipyard electrician and later to become President of Poland. Now retired, he is back at home in Gdansk.
Northern Poland is also famous for its amber jewellery and at night the illuminated stadium was very reminiscent of glowing amber, visible for many miles. There is no doubt that it will be a tremendous asset during the EURO 2012 finals, but more importantly, will increase Poland’s attraction long term as a destination for the largest events.