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4:44pm on Sunday, 2nd December, 2007:

Lost in Lodz


So, this is what I would have told you a couple of days ago if I'd had my scanner with me...

Where I was staying in Lodz was the Grand Hotel. The place where I was speaking was the Teatr Wielki. Here's the map I was sent to show me how to get from the former to the latter:

It looks a little bit splotchy because I GOT SNOWED ON while I was following it.

So, I have to speak at 12. I decide that I'll track down the theatre first, then I'll take a look at the shops to get stuff for my wife and kids (I don't know at the time that the shops won't be up to the task). I therefore come out of the hotel, turn right, and start walking.

Hmm. After 5 or 10 minutes I haven't come across any of the named streets on the map. I have, however, noticed that the street I am on is Piotrkowski, not Aleja Koscniszki. That's a surprise. Maybe the hotel occupies a whole block?

I set off walking back and find that yes, the hotel does seem to occupy a whole block. That explains that, then! I continue, now in the right direction, looking for streets that match those on the map. Ah, there's Struga, good, this is better. Next up, Nawrot, and ... hold on. Nawrot? That's supposed to come before Struga, not after it. What gives?

I continue to the end of the road, to the mighty 8-lane 2-tram highway. By now, I've realised that the map has the hotel and the theatre the wrong way round. I don't know how come, but it seems the most logical explanation. I look around and ... nothing. There is no building on the map where the Hotel Grand (ie. really the Teatr Wielki) is marked. I search a hundred metres in every direction, but there's nothing there that resembles a theatre, except maybe this one place that turns out to be some kind of council office or something.

So, I walk back to the hotel and buy a map. Glancing at some of the Polish writings hanging on the wall, I figure out that the word for "Grand" in Polish is "Wielki". OK, so that's probably what confused whoever made the map.

I dry myself off a bit (not having an umbrella or a coat, I'd got a bit damp walking around in GENTLY-FALLING SNOW) and I tear off the motoring part of the map so I can put the rest easily in my pocket. I set off again.

The new map is much, much better. Yes, I can see exactly where I am, the scale is good, no way am I not going to find the theatre this way. Worryingly, though, there are symbols on the map for theatres, but none appear quite where I'm heading. There are a couple that are vaguely close by, though, so I check these out. Nope, they're the Studyjny and the Pinokio, not the Wielki/Grand.

I'm getting a little bothered now. I've spent almost 2 hours wandering the streets of Lodz with no sign of the place where, in an hour's time, I am due to be talking. There's always a taxi, of course, but that's not the point. I return to the hotel, and dig out an email with the address on it: Dabrowskiego Square. The place I was going to was a square, sort of. Unfortunately, I can't look up the exact location on the street list that came with the map because that was on the motoring part, which I had torn off and put in the bin. The cleaners have visited since then and emptied the bin.

So, I take a look at the map again, and scour around for all the theatre symbols (Lodz, cultural centre that it is, has a large number of them).

Oh. There it is, right on pl. Dabrowskiego like the email said.

Here's the map with the Grand Hotel marked, with X showing where I was looking for the Teatr Wielki:

Here's where it actually was:

So that's why the taxi-driver who took me from the airport was confused...

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).