Tuesday, 31 December 2013

This year's hellos - from Review of 2013

As years go, not one to match 2012 in terms of progress (measured in things concrete, like roads). The biggest 'hello' of the year goes to the S2 expressway, linking Ursynów to the A2 motorway and thence westwards to Poznań, Berlin and Lisbon. Below: the section of the S2 between the Węzeł Warszawa Południe  and Puławska. The viaduct carrying ul. Poloneza over the S2 is now connected with asphalt to ul. Ludwinowska, putting an end to the beastly muddiness that locals have had to contend with. Next year - asphalt from ul. Krasnowolska to Poleczki, please.

The eastern end of the S2, yesterday

The S2 took over four years to build, and it still fails to do what it was meant to do - namely, to act as Warsaw's southern bypass. By 2020 maybe. Right now the expressway comes to an abrupt end in scrubland south of the King Cross shopping mall (top left of this picture, click to enlarge).

Another partial hello to the sewers on ul. Trombity. The main sewer is now in place, and checked over by MPWiK (the Urban Enterprise of Waterpullings and Canalisation), but our houses have yet to be connected to the lateral sewer that now runs into our estate. A big big thanks to our neighbour Tomek for all his work on making this all happen. The final connection will have to wait until the end of winter (may it be a relatively snow-free one). Once that's done, we can bid farewell to the septic tank lorry that pays us a visit every other week to take away all our waste-water.

A big hello to Czester the orange tomcat, born on 10 May this year, everybody loves Czester. "He's the chief/He's the king/But above everything/He's the most tip-top/Top Cat".

On the food front, the appearance at our local Lidl (and indeed larger Lidls across Warsaw) of decent beefsteak (Beefmaster by Biernacki) at a decent price (85zl a kilo) has made a welcome addition as an occasional treat. If 2013 was the Year of Steak, it was also the Year of Cider and Shandy, both of these beverages, well-known to UK consumers, making a welcome appearance on Warsaw's supermarket shelves. My favourite Polish tipples here - Warka Perry and Cydr Lubelski. I'd drink Cydr Ignaców (the leading high-end Polish cider), but it's not readily available.

Hello also to hipster bars where craft-brewed real ales bring a multiplicity of taste to Polish beer drinking. The days when Lech, Tyskie and Żywiec was the full extent of one's choice are over - hurrah! My favourite Polish artisan beers - Atak Chmielu and King of Hop.

2013 was also the year of the Rubbish Revolution - the Capital City of Warsaw, along with local authorities across Poland - has been tasked with taking responsibility from householders and businesses for waste disposal. The fear was that the whole thing would go off at half-cock - at least here in Jeziorki it's functioning OK (though the road closure necessitated by the building of the sewers meant that no one came to collect the rubbish in November, but the bills came through anyway).

Hullo in Poland to the world's largest ship, the container vessel Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller which sailed in to Gdańsk's Deepwater Container Terminal in August. The Polish port is one of only five in Europe capable of handling the new Triple-E class ships, which can carry up to 18,000 20ft containers.

Warsaw gained another shopping mall, Plac Unii, situated where ul. Marszałkowska (the city's main north-south thoroughfare) meets ul. Puławska (the main southbound artery out of the city centre). Sadly, a bit disappointing - most of the same shops encountered in any other Warsaw mall.

Surviving a no-confidence referendum (too few Varsovians could be bothered to vote on what was clearly a party-politically motivated poll), Warsaw's mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz launched a one-stop website and phone line through which citizens could report urban shortcomings. The new service, Warszawa 19115, worked OK the first time I used it (the mess left on ul. Kórnicka by the builders responsible for the flood-retention ponds) but not the second time (about a road sign warning motorists of a pedestrian crossing by ul. Buszycka that had been knocked over by a car).

From the New Year, Varsovians who live and pay their taxes in the capital, can get a special hologram to affix to their urban travel card, entitling them to lower-priced public transport. Though controversial, this new scheme does mean I can carry on paying just 250 złotys (£50) a quarter for full use of buses, trams, Metro and local rail services within the city limits (roughly the equivalent in area to Postal London, or Zone 3 on TfL). That's less than £4 a week. Superb, eh, Londoners?

And just before Christmas, I got my first smartphone, enabling me to go truly mobile. I've yet to grapple with the new technology, but at first sight it seems ready to revolutionise my travel time. Blogging is difficult with the small keyboard, but tweeting is easy - we'll see how things develop in 2014.

And one farewell I must publish here - the Ikarus buses that have served Warsaw for the past 35 years finally disappear from the streets of Our City this month. Belatedly, since the old buses were slated for obsolescence in time for last year's Euro 2012 football finals in June. (See this post, from a quarter of a decade ago.)

So - all the very best to my readers around the world. This year, 36,385 people have visited my blog, of whom 22,754 are returning visitors, reading on average 1.54 pages per visit. 31% of my readers are from Poland, 18% are from the UK, 14% from the US, 5% from Canada and 4% from Germany.

May 2014 prove to be an interesting year that brings us much new insight and inspiration.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Good summation as always!

We also see slow but steady improvements from time to time. I just noticed that the terrible left turn in front of the Mrowka hotel to the back road to Ursynow now has a left turn arrow - great progress!

Plus for us one of the great improvements over the past years have been the installation of roundabouts throughout Konstancin - it used to be a time wasting death cheating adventure to get through town. Much improved!