It’s true that The Department of State has advised US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. So what can you do instead?
My advice is to visit “Little Poland” in New Britain, Connecticut. If you live in New England, for example, you can easily drive to and enter the state of Connecticut, and “Little Poland” can offer you the European ambience you won’t find anywhere else. (For a listing of the state residents that cannot enter Connecticut, click on this site: )
(Full transparency – My maiden name is Karpowicz, I am entirely of Polish descent, and I’ve never met a pirogi I didn’t like.)
Bill Moore, President and CEO of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, graciously offered me an exclusive interview for Forbes.com about “Little Poland,” a special area of New Britain, which, geographically, incorporates about a square mile. “It’s an eclectic little area,” said Mr. Moore. “It’s filled with restaurants, churches, delis, and shops,” he said. “It’s a little gem in the heart of New Britain…It’s a fun day trip.”
Indeed, you will also find jewelry stores, travel agencies, and even a barber.
A little background: in the late 19th century, Polish immigrants started arriving in New Britain in large numbers to begin new lives working in the city’s many factories. Consequently, by 1930, one-quarter of the city’s population was of Polish ancestry. The majority settled in and around the Broad Street area, near Sacred Heart Church, and set up homes and businesses that created a strong cultural, social, and religious community.
In fact, the area is quite famous. President Reagan visited there in 1988, and last Fall, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda visited in September 2019, and “about 4,000 people turned out to welcome him,” said Mr. Moore.
In 2008, the city of New Britain officially designated the area of Broad Street as Little Poland. Residents feel that this tiny part of the United States is just like their homeland in Europe. Today, New Britain has the largest Polish population of any town or city in Connecticut and Little Poland is a bustling ethnic enclave that welcomes visitors from Connecticut and elsewhere.
Little Poland makes sure that it keeps Old World tradition alive while keeping up with current trends. It even maintains its own Facebook page and Twitter account.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of Little Poland’s most celebrated stores – The Roly Poly Bakery, where you can find just about anything Polish – from the legendary Polish dill pickles to paczki (doughnuts). Owner Remi Szupryczynski granted me an exclusive interview, in which he told me about all-things-Roly-Poly.
First, “roly poly” is a British word that applies to filled pastries, although in America it can refer to people who are slightly overweight. Mr. Szupryczynski laughed and told me about that. “We make paczki every day with seven different flavors, for $1.60 each. “I have a difficult time maintaining my shape, when everything is so fres