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.