Save to List: Sylwia Kowalczyk’s Lublin

A world’s worth of recommended spots from our global community
words – sylwia kowalczyk
location – edinburgh, uk

At boom saloon, we’re incredibly privileged to collaborate with a community of hundreds of talented creatives all around the world, stretching from Ecuador to Egypt, China to Canada, Austria to Angola. Our strong relations have afforded us a wealth of insider insights into the best places to visit, eat and stay, all around the world. Now, we want to share this information with you as we work with our community to map the world and share their best recommendations of how to enjoy destinations both near and far. Our version of a city guide, delivered interactively and in real time – curated for all to enjoy and presented as a savable Google Map for our members to save and bookmark a wealth of future adventures.

My hometown of Lublin is one of the hidden gems of Poland. It is the ninth largest city in the country and the largest one this side of Warsaw. Rich with an unspoilt history, its original mediaeval and renaissance old town – filled with trend-led university students from all over the world –  is catching up quickly: especially in the sustainability stakes. Here are some of my favourite spots, illustrating the city’s most exciting developments. 

01-03_Centrum Spotkania Kultur, Vinna, bookshop 

Centrum Spotkania Kultur [The Centre for the Meeting of Cultures] is my top spot. With every visit I make an obligatory pilgrimage to a restaurant situated in the building, Vinna – a great food and wine lover spot that serves a carefully curated menu ranging from seasonal tapa style dishes to modern takes on traditional Polish favourites like pierogi [dumplings]. It is, however, the roof of the building that gets my vote – it has its own large garden featuring custom built beehives where, among trees and plants, you can chill away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. [Summers in this part of the country can get very hot, but this is what makes the trees pollinate]. Also, the bookshop in the centre [on the ground floor] has a good children’s section but is also a great place to hang out and see the latest in Polish and international independent publishing [expect lots of books in Spanish and French, but also in Ukrainian].

 

04_Czechów Hills

My next favourite location shares a spot with an inhabitant who became an unofficial symbol of the city: the European Hamster, which is a giant version of the more familiar domestic pet. Long thought to be extinct in the region, this rodent became a symbol of environmental resistance when it unexpectedly popped back up, and its habitat needs to be protected from the ever expanding city. My childhood was spent on a housing estate near the so-called Czechow Hills. These are, in fact, gorges formed from loess where we could play freely as children, chasing our dogs among wild raspberry bushes and wild orchards. One of my best childhood friends, Magdalena Nosek, is now a founder of The Czechow Hills Collective that champions this area as an unique ecosystem and ferociously protects it from being engulfed by new housing developments. The hamster and its unique position in the European ecosystem help her in that fight; the developers had to back off from the area and the people of Lublin can thankfully still enjoy a walk in unspoilt nature at this special location.

You can join 8,000 of the Collective’s fans on their Facebook page and see some pretty awesome images of the European Hamster taken in its natural habitat.


05_The last stop in the leafy suburbs

While my hometown of Edinburgh has its tram, Lublin wants to become the first Polish town with an entirely zero emission public transport fleet. The city started working towards the goal way before it was fashionable – their electric trolleybus fleet has just celebrated its 70th anniversary. There are 15 Solaris operated lines transporting passengers within the city and the plan is for the rest of the buses to become entirely carbon neutral. One of my pleasures is to get off at the last stop in the leafy suburbs and watch the trolleybus being plugged into a giant crane-like battery charger before its next journey.


06-07_Rain Gardens, Saxon Garden

Polish summers can get really hot and Lublin is one of the leading cities in the country that is working towards ‘Green Civic Budgeting.’ Part of the project were so-called ‘Rain Gardens’ – the green areas specifically designed with plants that can retain water [Lublin, just like many areas in the UK, is prone to flash floods] and provide the city with much needed lower temperatures. The city centre actually boasts a huge public park, ‘Saxon Garden.’ Opened in the 1830s, it provides much needed relief from the summer heat. A fun fact: the garden boasts a ‘plant clock’ like the one in Edinburgh’s Princes Street gardens, and it was also designed by two Scottish lads – David and Douglas Baird. They based their company in my hometown! In summer the garden’s open air concert hall becomes a vital point for the city’s rich cultural programme.

 

08-09_A 2000km cycling route, The Lublin Open Air Village Museum

In 2021 Lublin was named the most environmentally, climate and citizen friendly city in Poland. It boasts a 2000km cycling route which is the largest one in the East of Poland and, just like in most European cities, you can download an app that allows you to rent a City Bike. There are approximately 1,000 bikes at your disposal at various points [101 stations, to be precise] in the city…which takes us to my favourite outdoor, fully sustainable spot: The Lublin Open Air Village Museum, which is set in 60 acres of land. It is one of the largest open air museums in Poland, perfect for a chilled day out in nature.


10_Metropolitan Station

In the early winter of 2024, the Metropolitan station in Lublin opened – a main transport hub in the centre of the city, it is designed to be one of the most sustainable projects of its kind in the country. The station building has an accessible, public, green roof. Architect Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, responsible for the design, said: “The implementation of technologies and materials that are environmentally friendly and limit the carbon footprint of constructions make it one of the most ecologically sound and energy efficient buildings of its kind in Poland.” It has only just opened but I’m looking forward to hopping on and off the bus there during my next trip to my hometown.

 

11-12_Spokojna 2, Majątek Drzewce

Lastly, I’m not a big alcohol drinker but when we went for a meal at Spokojna 2. I was very tempted by a new thing in town: a local vinery product from Majątek Drzewce. The climate of the region is changing significantly and, since 2013, the team have been working on planting a local winery and rebuilding the owner’s grandfather’s house and garden. Their wine was a great accent to the all locally sourced and seasonal ingredients of our meal. Delicious.

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