When we left Przyjaciół we moved to Gwiażdzista. This was a move 9 km north from the centre to Żoliborz, an increase in size from 60 to 90 m2 but for a quarter of the rent. It also, accidentally, coincided with a move from one company to another who’s office was just at the end of our new street. The previous company’s office had been nearer the town centre, where the old apartment was.
After a couple of years in the 90 m2 place an offer came up to move to another block in the same estate, block B to block C, or was it C to B, who cares! The move was a good one because we managed to get from 90 to 140 m2 and add a second parking space with hardly any increase in rent. It was much sunnier as well. We stayed there for another four years, thought about buying it, thought again and moved to where we are now.
Gwiażdzista is a street that joins with the wisłostrada at both ends but loops around a park called Kępa Potocka. The park is relatively popular and has some nice walks alongside the canal that runs through it. We lived in what was a relatively new block when we moved in and a relatively tired and naff block when we moved out.
Our place, second block from the right
It was therefore a very one-sided street, with park all down one side and stuff on the other. If you walk the street from South to North, that’s from the far end in the picture coming past the blocks and off out the right hand side, the first thing you would find is more blocks, older ones with a huge advert for Media Markt painted on the side as visible heading North on wisłostrada.
The older blocks
The walking route
KEY – green stars are park developments, blue ones are housing and black house shape is where we lived
Once past these you find an expanse of well tended allotments (działki ogrodnicze). There used to be many more of these but about half the area was used up to build the estate we lived in and the one next door. There are a few places in these allotments and others by the canal where you can buy fresh honey, well, I don’t really know if honey is ever ‘fresh’ but this stuff is made on the allotment let’s put it that way. If you cross into the park opposite the allotments you’ll find a bar where you can get a pint year-round and some barbecue style food in the summer.
Passing by our estate and the neighbouring one you reach the junction with ulica Potocka. Past this junction and there’s another larger old estate with a giant church hidden amongst it. You then pass under the Trasa Torunska and find even more blocks and a few houses all the way to the far end where they give way to a corner of the Bielański forest.
Obviously, with all these blocks, if you ever did want to walk the length of Gwiażdzista then you’d get into the park and follow the path alongside the canal. Far more pleasant, as M and I both found out (mainly M) when Zosia was a baby and needed walking for hours in the pram! It was alongside this canal that Zosia got her first sensations of the world at large.
While I lived at Przyjaciół there was almost no development. The Sobanski palace behind my apartment but facing onto Ujazdowskie was renovated, quite loudly, into a kind of posh business club (that I’m dining at this week as a matter of fact) but that was all there was. Gwiażdzista was a different story. In the park, they chopped trees to make a playground and mountain bike route, not a great idea as it removed some of the shield of trees between the busy wisłostrada and our estate. They relaid the path along the canal, this was a welcome change from the pot-holed tarmac. Recently, I see they have added an animated light feature at the front end of the park, visible from the highway. This all makes the park even more popular than it used to be and functions are regularly held there attracting people from all over Warsaw. Which makes their idea to make it impossible to park in the area all the more incredible! They have systematically infected Gwiażdzista with a plague of those red and white posts to the point where I really have no idea where those visiting the park are supposed to park their cars. Very strange.
On the housing front the street has gone completely berserk. You might think that 500 blocks was enough for one street but oh no, you’d be seriously underestimating the greed that existed a few years back. The first was a not very well thought out development that stands right next door to the Trasa – free with every apartment, exhaust fumes, noise and a view of passing traffic. I think they even had the cheek to give it a name like “Green Gardens” or something equally facetious. The next was a little greener, at the far end by the forest but I challenge you to look at their marketing materials and then go see it in real life and tell me whether they match up! There’s a few left if you’re really interested.
The most recent development is the strangest. This is a single tower block that suddenly grew amidst a bunch of older blocks just the other side of Potocka. We wandered around there a few times and I can assure you there was no plot big enough to build another tower block and certainly the area was not in need of one but hey, we reckoned without “Squeeze-It-In” developments who took what used to be three parking spaces and built a block with 30 apartments. “
“Get closer to your neighbours with Squeeze-It-In Developments Sp z o.o. Much, much closer.”
And so we conclude our tour of Gwiażdzista. At one time we liked the place very much but then we moved on and the area moved, frankly, down, especially the particular estate we were in. The parking was a joke, the park was busy, the noise & grime from wisłostrada was getting worse and the sheer stupidity of some of the new developments was too much to bear.
Time to move on to our third Polish street.