I’m trudging back to the van. The hot August sun has beaten me into a hot and sweaty mess. The dog is hungry and pulling on his leash. I need to sit down. A little boy, about 5 or 6 years old, jumps out in front of us. I feel a grumble arising. The boy, propelled by the music from his grandfather’s phone, hops onto one leg and begins to shake his booty. I can’t help but smile. I mirror him and we we do some crazy one-legged man-dancing for a minute. The grandfather roars with laughter.
I’m in Łódź where the natives rejoice their city. And there’s nowhere better than Piotrkowska to air your flair. It’s the main artery, a long street that bisects the southern end almost neatly in two. According to wikipedia, it’s ‘one of the longest commercial thoroughfares in Europe, with a length of 4.9 km.’
Maybe it’s the summer heat giving everyone sunstroke. Maybe it’s always like this, I don’t know. But I’ve witnessed young ladies rollerblade through fountains shrieking with joy, a crazy busker in oversized clown pants plead love to his woman, and a pianist entertain a man/statue assemblage.
With the dog fed and watered, we venture out for some sustenance of our own. Manufaktura is an arts centre, shopping mall, and leisure complex rolled into one. Think Westfields with more class and better architecture. The buildings are beautifully maintained red brick structures from the 19th century. The jewel is a five-storey spinning mill which towers over (and therefore hides) the newer, glass-and-steel shopping mall. It reminds me of Kings Cross Saint Pancras where the modern blends seamlessly with the Victorian.
In the centre, an immaculate man-made beach demands your attention. Athletic youths clad in shorts and t-shirts volley beach balls over nets; their beautiful friends lounge in nearby deck chairs. On the perimeter, kids soak each other with fountain spray. High quality restaurants and bars form the outer ring.
We enjoy the food and the vibe and watch dusk creep in. OK, its consumer-ville. But it’s well-designed, with a good balance between culture, cuisine, and consumerism. More importantly, it’s a modern analogue to Piotrkowska, another focus where the people of Łódź can come and flaunt their bonhomie.