Date : 20th December 2016 – fourth day of Euroescape!
Do you know the Christmas snow globe? One that has rows of fir trees in front of a castle, that you could shake up so tiny little white dots resembling a snow come down? That’s what I think of this tiny town, my very own real life snow globe, especially since I am there near Christmas.
Known as a religious and conventional Christian (or Catholic?) country, Poland is very festive near Christmas. They took Christmas very seriously. The decorations are up. The announcement boards are full with service schedule and practice hours and posters. People everywhere, walking in groups and with family, trying to finish the Christmas shopping and preparation on the last minutes. Anywhere. Well, at least in the 3 city of Poland we visited in 4 days. There are even a very long queue on our second day in Krakow, when we witness people queuing for a free Christmas tree for about 300 meters long. Talk about dedication!
Out of Germany! Yey! Our trip has really begun, at least for my German-resident friend. The first step out is to Poland, and we landed first in the most charming small town that is Wroclaw. Oh, the pronunciation is [VROTS-wahf] though. I don’t know, me myself hasn’t been able to say it right.
To those who cannot be bothered to try to pronounce it right (cause, you know, I’m convinced it’s futile), Wroclaw has many other (unofficial) names, as this city has been passed on from one country to another in the mist of power struggle of wars : Poland, Austria, Prusia, and back and forth. My friend learned that the “Breslau” German people often speak of is only one of the many names of Wroclaw.
Look at the history! Look! What an interesting way to learn history!
Sorry some of the pics are upturned, it’s just that I thought it’s better to leave it like that.
Many people – tourists, I mean – haven’t heard of Wroclaw, because it used to be a not so important spot in Poland- it’s a city that come back after war, after all – and just recently brought to development and receive a lot of help from the government and EU, because they host the EUFA 2012. Because of that many maintenance work and development are brought around the city and the are “discovered” as a hidden gem because it’s so beautiful there. Sweet!
Despite it’s “hidden gem” status, Wroclaw actually have a lot of nicknames . It’s called Venice of the North, because they have so many bridges in the city – 5th of the Europe! (Or the world?) I can’t recall the order, but I know Venice and Amsterdam is included in the top 5. It’s originally built in an Island surrounded by the Odra river, after all, and now they have a secluded area named “Cathedral Island” (Ostrow Tumski) in the city, and to go there we have to cross one of the many bridges.
The Cathedral Island itself is unique, an area with lots of old Cathedral that have stood there since the 1st century or so, but there are more of that area. There are apparently a lantern man – Lamplighter – I forgot what’s the Polish name – that goes around and manually lighting up the land around Cathedral Island at dusk, and then manually switch it off in the evening. He goes around in a traditional cloak-like clothing too, making him a sight to behold (and take a pic of).
We arrived in Wroclaw at dusk, and the staff of the homiest hostel this entire trip, Grampa’s hostel –
I will write another post about them (Here it is!) – right in the outskirt of Cathedral Island, and because we can’t check in and nothing is open yet – it’s 4 AM – they suggest us to go Lantern-man hunting. Too bad, we can’t catch him, partly because we actually haven’t researched about it, and have no idea how he look nor what course would he take. But we get the sight of Cathedral Island and around Odra river before anyone else rise, so that is nice.
We then decide to join a local tour that are posted all over the hostel – a local-but-global tour called freewalkingtour, (I will post about them later) where the locals gather to guide packs of tourists for free – actually, for a fee you yourself decide. I originally thought that this is a global thing brought to Poland, but when I checked the website, I think this a Poland thing brought world-wide. Wow! Bravo, Poland!
At night, we go to search for food. We don’t have many luck,though, as many business has closed already due to the holiday mood (remember that when going to Poland near Christmas)o we ventured back to the city center, and encountered the Christmas market we already forget exist. The Christmas Market is lovely and very crowded! We tried one snack which we think are cake/bread but turns out to be full bodied cheese, and… we can’t say we like it XP. We want to eat a full course though, to try the traditional food of Poland, so we restraint from trying too much snacks.
The only open restaurant we found that sell pierogi and other traditional food is located on the Rynek, named Pod Fedra. We honestly hesitating since the prime location and the way it is styled scream “Fine dining!” and “expensive!” and our uni-student frame of mind avoided that like allergy. But turns out it doesn’t make a hole in our pocket, despite our right assumption that it’s fine dining (with the most gorgeous waiter I have encountered in my life OMG Europe!). It is delicious and we are rightly satisfied. I love Pierogi!
After the tour in the evening, we go back to our hostel due to fatigue – we have been up from dusk and miss a lot of thing to see from this beautiful city, as we only have one day,and there are not much I can share more. But we have seen enough to fall in love with this city. And this city is one of the city I swear I will visit again if I ever decided to go back to vacationing in Europe. See you in next post!
Before : Hannover Next : Krakow