The very colourful market square

Another day another Polish city to visit. This time it was off to Wroclaw. How do you think you pronounce that? Its not row-claw, and its not rock-law. The closest you can explain it phonetically is vrot-suave. Yep. Sounds nothing like the word is spelt. The Polish language at its finest. I headed to the train station in Warsaw to buy my ticket, showing a piece of paper with the word ‘Wroclaw’ on it because at that stage I had no idea how to pronounce it properly. Went to the platform and it was one of those cases where there is two sides to the platform. Luckily the signs actually worked at this station so I knew which train on what side to catch. The train journey was ok, it was on one of the slightly cheaper and slower TLK trains. It was made much nicer about half way through though when a stunning Polish girl sat opposite me. She had piercing green eyes. I started to freak out a bit though when the scheduled arrival time came and went and as far as I could tell we were in the middle of nowhere. Was I supposed to get off and switch trains? No it was just running late thankfully.

Walked my way to the hostel, the ‘Cinnamon Hostel’. All the rooms are named after some kind of spice, I was staying in ‘Paprika’. It was a six bed room but it could have had ten beds in it, it was huge. The first night there was only three of us in the room, and for the other three nights it was only me. It was heaven. It was also in a pretty good spot, only about a 5 minute walk to the old town. Although the city is pretty tiny anyways. Had free breakfast, wifi, maps, kitchen etc.

There isn’t much to do in Wroclaw, its very much a walk around the old cobbled streets and gaze at the buildings and history. In the middle of the old town there is a huge market square, I think only second in size to Krakow’s. Surrounding the square in typical fashion is tall colourful buildings butted up against each other. The square is of course entirely cobbled, with larger newer pavers marking out large squares. Girls walking in high heels (which is most of them) walk along these pavers so they don’t get stuck, quite funny to watch them walk in straight lines across the city. I wandered quite far on my first day, covered the entire inner city. In the more northern part of the city there is a series of canals that splits up a whole bunch of little islands with nice parks on them and are all connected to each other with bridges. Makes for some nice walking, and the weather not being the best its nice and quiet and not many people around. I stopped off at one of the many churches and climbed the tower to the top, no surprises that I was the only one up there, it was blowing a gale. I then headed back towards the town through some more parks. Came across a monument that is quite spectacular. It is of an angel with wings spread atop a stone block looking down at a woman holding a man that has a bullet hole in the back of his head. It is commemorating the 22,000 Polish Army Officers, Policemen and other prisoners who were shot in the back of the head after orders from Stalin in the Spring of 1940.

Quite near that monument is probably Wroclaw’s biggest tourist attraction, although I guess that isn’t really saying much. Its a panorama painting thingo in a giant dome. I went inside and bought my ticket, just happened that I arrived 20mins before the only available showing of the day. There was a whole bunch of young school kids going to see it, and I remember one of the teachers. She was insanely attractive. Tall and blonde. I remember her well. I was just thinking to myself those kids don’t know it now, but they are the luckiest students alive. So anyway back to the dome thingo. You walk in and around the circular wall is a continuous painting, depicting various parts of some rather insignificant war a few hundred years ago. Doesn’t sound that impressive, but the thing is massive, about 15 meters tall and a 100 or so meters around. And the painting ‘flows’ in to the ground in front of the wall with real life props like plants and grass etc. It was also the only panorama painting to live through WW2. It was dismantled carefully and put in storage before the shit hit the fan.

One thing that is a bit of a mystery to the city, well thats what they say anyway, is the gnomes. There are little metal gnomes, about 30cm in height at the most, in random places around the city. They are often posing in a way to compliment their surroundings as well. There is one outside a bank holding its hand out with money in it. Theres one outside a pizza hut and its a fat one lying down on a plate holding a knife and fork. They’re really quite funny. I had read about them but never saw any until the end of my second day, and I saw about three. There is supposed to be 15 or so, but apparently ‘no one knows for sure’.

So apart from seeing that panorama thing, going to the zoo (another blog), and going in and up a few cathedrals, I just walked around. Took things pretty slowly, sat down in parks and read a few times, watched the passing parade. You could probably visit the city and ‘do it’ in maybe a full day and a bit. It gets dark quite early as well now, around 4:30pm, so theres not much time in the day anyways.