Poland (Wroclaw), A Pointless Walk, Shopping and a Final Meal

Farm Animal Sculptures Wroclaw

I now set about a rather pointless walk that soon had Kim getting irritable.  I told you that my friend Dai Woosnam had recommended accommodation at the Strangers Hostel and I thought it might be fun to go and find it and get a picture of it so I made us set off along a long straight road towards the railway station.

With each block that we walked along the street became incrementally more drab and untidy and the buildings more graffiti scarred and depressing with run down shops and fast food outlets selling tostinis, a sort of Polish Pizza with obscene amounts of ketchup or mayonnaise lavished over the topping.

Along the route we passed Partisan Hill a once elegant recreational area with a grandiose crescent-shaped structure like something that might be found in Baden-Baden or Bath but now sadly neglected, forlorn and forgotten with crumbling masonry and cracked pavements, a once gleaming construction littered with smashed bottles and spray can squiggles and the only hope is that it stays standing long enough until someone restores it.

By now we had left the comfort of the tourist centre and were in a much less attractive area. At a busy intersection an intricate spider’s web of overhead electric cables was providing power to the blue and cream trams that regularly rattled past on the steel tracks in the roads.  Some of these were modern Bombardier flexi-trams that hummed rather than clanked but my favourites were certain future museum pieces from the 1950s and 60s that conjured up images of the old days of the Soviet Empire that creaked and complained with rusty metal wheels that squealed along the metal tracks.

I noticed that as passengers got on board they immediately began to look grey and tired and seemed to become a feature of the tram as though locked permanently into a 1960s Wroclaw time warp.  The trams whirred and screeched and sounded bells to warn of their approach as they drew up and pulled off, setting down and picking up and clattering away again between the rows of neglected buildings and out towards the residential apartments of the city suburbs.

Ten minutes into the pointless walk I knew that I was in trouble!  After a while Kim gave an ultimatum – ‘one more block and if we don’t find it we are turning back’.  We didn’t find it and at the next cross roads I thought it best to submit and comply and so we turned and walked back to the centre.

It was really rather cold now so I wasn’t minded to complain when Kim spotted the bright lights of a modern chrome and steel shopping arcade and I followed her in for what I thought would be a short stroll from one side to the other to warm up but I was in for a nasty shock!

Kim likes to go shopping most weekends and one of her favourite stores is Tk-maxx (big names, little prices) and she was delighted and I was stunned when in the middle of the arcade was the very thing – Tk-maxx Polish style and this inevitably meant half an hour of pointless meandering through the rails and racks full of things that we had no intention of buying anyway.

““Do you like that?” I’ll say in surprise since it doesn’t seem like her type of thing, and she’ll look at me as if I’m mad.  That!?” She’ll say, “No, it’s hideous” “Then why on earth,” I always want to say, “did you walk all the way over there to touch it?””                                                                                                              Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From a Small Island’

Kim was happy now and the pointless walk to find the Strangers Hostel was conveniently forgotten and I was equally delighted when the shop browsing ended and we returned to the main square and the coffee shop where we had stopped the day before which was busier today, full of people from the open air concert outside the front door, taking a break from the show and taking the opportunity to warm up a little.

It was getting dark, we were tired of walking and, if I am honest, the day was beginning to drag a little now in the way that it does when there is no hotel room to go back to for a break but we still had over two hours to wait before returning to the airport so we needed something to do.  We watched a little bit of the Concert, it was a Polish rock band now which meant little to us so I tried to steer Kim towards the ‘Drink Bar’ but she had an alternative plan and suggested a last meal at the Georgian restaurant ‘Gruzinskie Chaczapuri’. I liked that idea better than mine so we walked past the Hansel and Gretal houses (so called by the way because they are connected by an archway as though they are holding hands) and on to the bistro.

This time I tried a speciality Georgian Pie but I don’t think I will ever have another one, it was quite tasty but it was simply a massive bread base covered in chicken and melted cheese, even bigger than a Pizza Hut special that immediately had me counting the calories and so sticky that I was obliged to order a second beer to unclog my tonsils and wash it down.

And so our time in Wroclaw came to an end and after the meal we collected our belongings and took a taxi back to Wroclaw Copernicus Airport where we had plenty of time to reflect on our three days in the city.  We had enjoyed it but were in agreement that although we had missed a few things out three days was just about the right amount of time required to enjoy this splendid city.

Wroclaw Dwarfs Postcard

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13 responses to “Poland (Wroclaw), A Pointless Walk, Shopping and a Final Meal

  1. Beer to unclog the tonsils…hmmm…an interesting remedy. 🙂

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  2. I’m a fan of the old-style blue trams too, and have identical photos to yours from Zagreb and Krakow. I wonder how much longer they will last?

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  3. Sounds a vile last day although I do think you should have persevered to find Dai’s hostal.

    I got last days down to a fine art.

    Paris: leave hotel, have breakfast, got to Louvre, leave bags there all day, have lunch in museum cafe, wander around more galleries, collect bags, go sit in park in sunshine and then go for ‘plane. Might not suit Kim.

    Corfu: leave note on door for travel agent that we will not be collected by their bus to go and sit in a hotel all day and that we will see her at the airport. Go to Kaliope or whatever it’s called for the day. Sit on beach, swim, wander around. Have drinks overlooking the harbour. Day is not wasted. Arrive at airport to be first in queue and then get gushing agent saying how thoughtful we were to leave a note. Perfect. I’ll try and find the pic to scan in as the hol made a good tale. It was the last package one we ever took, think it was only the third anyway!

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    • The day was ok apart from the shopping shock but Kim enjoyed it. She couldn’t do a full day in the Louvre! We are generally ok with long last days, especially in the summer but Wroclaw was rather cold in January!

      We have got a late flight back from Spain next month so planning a day in Guadalajara or Alcala de Henares, depending on the weather. My preference is Alcala because I want to see the Cervantes museum.

      I think it is Kasiope in Corfu? The note was very thoughtful!

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      • Kasiope sounds more like it, I thought it as I was typing 😀 Couldnt be arsed to check.

        The note was interesting. I had to stick it on the door with elastoplast! Btu she was so grateful, guess you don’t see their lives when you have paid for a hol and some tourist goes walkabout. Leaving a note saved her that problem.

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      • That should be ‘couldn’t be assed to check’!

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  4. Ha ha ha. Love, “…I was obliged to order a second beer to unclog my tonsils and wash it down.” Sounds like a good excuse especially if the beer was good. 🙂

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  5. You are a most loveable character, Andrew.
    You have that gene inside you that if somebody suggests you visit Venue X, you will subconsciously ensure that you visit Venue Y.
    And maybe I have got the same gene in me too. So I should not be too hard on you.
    However, that said, it would take a fairly perverse reader of a travel blog to honestly declare that he/she preferred reading about the ubiquitous TK Maxx, to the truly extraordinary one-off Wroclaw The Stranger Hostel ..a place where I was old enough to be the grandfather of most of the people I met there, yet paradoxically, on leaving, felt the youngest person in the place …such was their non-ageist attitude to me!
    It is an extraordinary place. I urge your readers to be BOLD …book a flight there TOMORROW. And do not stay in some bland Best Western Hotel which is the same as the one you might stay at in Krakow or Warsaw: but save an astonishing 75% of the hotel price and have a truly enriching experience instead.
    I would myself book to go back tomorrow, if I thought that the hostel apart, there were enough new experiences for me to experience in that city.
    Alas, I am not sure there is.
    But that hostel was the best and friendliest I have ever experienced!
    Nobody who throws himself into the Ocean of Reality will drown in the process. I recall that line from my youth. Pity that I did not follow it more. Might have been from the pen of Henry Miller …a huge idol of the young me.

    http://www.hostelmanagement.com/poland/wroclaw/stranger-hostel-wroclaw

    What really fascinated me about your piece is that you make it sound like the place is situated in the Mean Streets of crime-ridden Belmont district in The Bronx, or down some dark alleyway in Naples !! Like every step, was one step more into the darkness!
    Au contraire, it is on one of the well-lit main shopping streets, just 200 yards from the huge, neon-lit, main railway station.
    But hey, I defend TO THE DEATH your right to interpret your journey as you wish: after all as a non-swimmer, I perceive every step I take toward an ultra-safe hotel swimming pool, as a step up on to the gallows!
    Anyway, all that apart, thanks for a well written piece. Loved the alliteration, and the ebbing and flowing of the sentences.
    Hope you are coming to lunch at 1pm on Wednesday.

    Kindest,
    Dai Woosnam
    Grimsby, UK
    daigress@hotmail.com

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    • Thanks Dai.
      There is no harm in a little exaggeration! You are quite right of course that street was quite safe and harmless. Tk-maxx on the other hand was really scary! Shopping without mental preparation always comes as a nasty shock! Anyway, that’s the end of Wroclaw and I move on to Zaragoza and the Semana Santa in a couple of weeks or so.
      Andrew

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