I’m not even sure if I am happy or sad to be back. Either way, one thing is certain: I do love Poland. I love the cities, the colors,the parks, the memorials, the history and even the old fashioned trains.
We arrived in Wroclaw around 11am local time (+1h from UK) and I got a chance to see the new airport – let me tell you – it’s much better now. The old Wroclaw Airport, really needed something done about it.
Anyway, for those of you thinking about visiting Wroclaw – no, it’s not a very popular or turistic area, despite it’s beauty – maybe I should give you some beforehand information:
- I have never – ever – paid for public transportation. Should I be embarassed? Yes, Definetly. But it doesn’t make it less true. To be honest, I did buy a ticket. Never used it as in six months there I have never seen a ticket inspector. I do know, however, people that got tickets but nothing was really done about it – i think me and my roommates still have that fine in our Wroclaw poster somewhere. I do encourage to buy on airport trips. It’s about 2,40zl which translates to roughly £0.45. Yup, forty five pence.
- Wroclaw is ridiculously cheap. Actually, all Poland is – the more turistic the city, the more expensive but still… Cheap. £1 is the equivalent of 4.70zl. At some point you’ll round it up to 5zl as it’s easier. For you to have an idea, a lunch in the Rynek – aka the main square – main course and drink will be around 25zl to 35zl (that’s like £5 to £6 A MEAL. In a seating down restaurant!!!). If you are more into fast food and Mcdonalds (urgh..) and such the price of a Big Mac meal will be £2.26. A night in a Hostel in a Private room? £8. A room just for you (you’ll probably get to share a shower but hey, breakfast is included!)
- Vodka is everywhere. There is this place, it’s quite underground and not in the main square – but dont worry, it’s basically just around the corner – and you can have the most amazing hot chocolate vodka ever! In the supermarkets, there is a special area to buy alcohol and the vodka section is endless. You can buy Wyborowa – considered one of the worlds best vodka; top 5 along with Grey Goose, Belvedere and Finlandia (yup, I know my vodkas -sorry?) – for less than a tenner.
- There aren’t a lot of museums per se. I actually had a rather difficult time explaining to my friend what she was going to see. It’s a city that you can basically see all the sights in a stroll. Well, a LONG stroll. It took us from breakfast to dinner time to cover everything. they have a lot of memorial sights. Not so many museums. Again, it is only now becoming a city open to tourists and it’s slowly developing.
- Basically there are no english speakers in supermarkets so be ready to take a peak at the price in the register because you won’t understand a thing they are saying. Really for twenty they say: two tens (in their language off course). I know I won’t understand and still, I let them finish the number because it just fascinates me to hear them speak.
- There is a gnome hunt! There are loads of them all scrambled around the city centre. In benches, leaning against the wall, drinking and smoking in front of a pub, holding flowers, reading books, facing big knights, writing, painting, counting… you name it. They appeard in 2001 in the streets but they are actually the symbol of the political mind and state of the country. Even if now it’s more for tourists and fun, it does have an interesting story. There was a art student that started the Orange Alternative movement which was a ‘protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests’. (you can read all about it here: http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/wroclaw/sightseeing/Wroclaw-s-Gnomes )
- The Odra river surrounds the city centre and the old town and the city has 12 islands, all connected by 112 bridges. No other city in Poland has this many and you can easily cross over all of them,
- In Wroclaw it is legally forbidden to drink in public streets. However there is one island where you can do so. It is not legally acceptable but authorities do look the other side as there aren’t usually any problems. People just want to seat in the sun and drink. And that’s what they do. When they cross over outside the island, that’s a whole other story.
- There is one island that is all about religion. There are about 5 churches in there. There is a Theology University and all religious related studies are conducted there. also, the lights there are still lighted by gas. The guy that does it shouldn’t mind as I have unofficially trained him to pose for pictures,
- The Panorama is the biggest painting in Eurpoe and it represents the Battle of Raclawice – polish upsrising against Russia. It is located in a round building and they have laid it out in a circular fashion.
The places I made a point in visiting, among others were: Rynek (market square), the University, the islands – drinking and religious one, the popularw market – polish people screaming veggie names and numbers is totally my thing – the Wroclaw art Museum – The war memorial, the Panorama, Hala Stulecia and the biggest fountain in Euope which is ust behind it and it’s surroung parks. The Japanese Garden, the jewish cemetery and my old dormitory – a girl has gotta do what a girl gotta do.
Please do pick up a mao at the airport as there is only one Tourist Information in the city centre. They have all the sights marked down and you will see there is no need to take the tram anywhere – you can easily walk if you have the time – although it is an experience!