Wroclaw

IMG_20130528_153505Few days later, I find myself wrapped around my blankets, in my bed here in rainy London.

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!

Wroclaw

Wroclaw

Street Art

Street Art

Panorama

Panorama

Hala Stulecia

Hala Stulecia

Memorial

Memorial

University

University

Gardens

Gardens

Claudia

Poland

Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw, Poland

I will be travelling to Poland tomorrow. I have actually lived there before moving to the UK. Well, I was there in Erasmus, studying, but, to be honest, I didn’t do so much studying as I travelled the country (still, it was enough to finish with great grades – If you’re thinking about exchange programs such as Da vinci or Erasmus, it’s a brilliant country to consider. Giving it’s economy it’s incredibly cheap. It’s richness lies in other things: culture, people and life itself in the country).

Four years later, I’ll be back again, in the city i’ve called home for half a year – my lovely Wroclaw – and Krakow. I’ll be visiting friends and introducing Poland to one of my dearest friends who, I’m sure, will finally understand why I call that half-a-year the time of my life!

For those of you who don’t know, Poland is located in Central Europe. It has been invaded or has fought for freedom in insurrections 43 times from 1600 to 1945.

It’s the birth home of Copernicus, Marie Curie and Chopin – to name a few. It’s the only country in the world where English teachers make more money than doctors.

As you can imagine, it is a country that it’s still rising from the consequences of the WWII. You can actually see the ‘gohst towns’ and damaged buildings as you take the train from Wroclaw and Krakow or Warsaw.

On a happier note; they have an open air festival called Przystanek Woodstock and it’s the biggest in Europe –  it is free and rock music is what you’ll find there. So, rock lovers try and go there. The festival is inspired by and named for the Woodstock Festival (you can only start to imagine what it is like in there – unless you went to Woodstock, then you’ll know).

Poland is one of the biggest producers of Vodka. And they make it at home too – believe me, I’ve tried all sorts at Uni dorms!!!

I will document my trip once I come back. For now I’m just to excited and still very undecise of what to take with me.

Claudia

Rainy day = Museum day?

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If there are two things you can count with in London, they are: rainy weather and museums.

We all know this year there was no Spring, and I don’t even want to go into Summer (I am really afraid to cast some sort of jinx on it by wishing for a good sunny day). But oh well, if there is a city prepared for the rain; it’s London.

Starting with culture. Rainy days are people favourite days to visit a museum. And there are so many. AND FREE!

The British Museum is a must: it’s also one of the oldest in the world and a great place if you want to have a one-on-one with some mummies. It also has this great looking restaurant called the Great Court which is a glass covered roof top for you to enjoy the view (You may actually catch a glimpse of the sun setting!)

The National History Museum is awesome and pleases everyone. The collection goes from the weirdest creatures – always a personal favourite – to really fluffy adorable animals. Also, if the sun does shine, the gardens are a delight as it protects inner-city wildlife.

As for science goes, the Science Museum just has to be seen. Especially if you are like me – naturally curious and too lazy to actually dedicate myself in discovering how things like internet really work (ignorance is a bliss, and this way I never fail to be amazed). There are free lectures you can attend and besides the permanent exhibitions, some of the others are sometimes free.

The National Gallery is probably one of the most famoust museums in the city. First of all is right in the heart of London and is right on Trafalgar Square. The amount of people that have the building in their picture background must be off the hook! There are more than 2000 works showing there. Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ is there, along with art works from Van Gogh and Raphael.

The National Portrait Gallery is a hidden delight. Not many tourists venture in there because they simply don’t know it exists. If you think portraits might sound a boring idea, you couldn’t be more wrong. And the restaurant has a brilliant champagne afternoon tea with a beautiful view to the square (the gallery is just behind The National Gallery and the Big Ben.

Tate and Tate Modern – the Tate Modern is the most famous venue, being just off the Millenium Bridge and a nice stroll through Southbank. Both Tates have free exhibitions and paid ones – the short term ones are usually paid. Right now the Tate Modern is featuring Lichtenstein: A Retrospective. People with the Tate anual pass can go in for free to all the paid exhibitions.

The Museum of London is also one the the most visited museums by tourists. It shows the history of London with actual original artifacts. It reconstructs scenes and interiors and it’s just a journey through time.

Last but not the least comes my favourite: the Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A ouses one of the world’s greatest collections of decorative arts. I tens to always get in through a different entrance and I always get lost. I have never found my way around there. basically because I just follow whatever catches my eye – and there are SO many. I tend to just wonder around visiting roman statues and persian rugs and I never -ever – follow the same path. Please go there and loose a little bit of yourself. And good news: the butterfly exhibition is covered!

So yeah, no excuse to sit at home watching movies about greek gods when you can almost toutch their statues.

Claudia

The National – Mistaken for Strangers

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One thing you have to know about me is: I like indie rock. How hipster of me. But no, really, Rock has always been my baby but there’s something about banjos and drums that drives me crazy. But don’t worry, apart from the odd weird band, I do have good taste in music.

That being sad, it is only natural that I would mention the The National documentary that has come out. The name is Mistaken for Strangers  which is also the name of one of the singles of Boxer – my personal favourite album so far but alas, I still have the new one to listen to,

It is basically a movie based on the tour that The National made in 2010 adter the released of the High Violet. On this big tour, Matt’s brother (Tom) goes with them and documents it.

Now, I haven’t seen it yet but it’s on my list.

For all of you not aware, The National is a rock band from Ohio. They have 6 albums (Trouble Will Find Me has just been released) plus EP’s.

Here is the link for the movie website:

http://mistakenforstrangersmovie.com/

Hope you will enjoy it as much as I am sure I will.

Claudia

(Re)Birth

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I have had about 6 blogs during my life. I always go from very excited to overly attached to kind of letting them run it’s course. I guess that’s my teenage years metaphor – My blog changes as my life evolves.

Nowadays I know what I like (well, most of the time) and I don’t write philosophical entries  just to sound profound.

I know I love traveling, old maps, books, history and music and that’s what this blog will about.

Along with my random thoughts about the London life. Just because I might need to vent.

Claudia