We had planned to drive much closer, however after cleaning up the incident with the bathroom flooding last night, I was too tired to continue driving.
This late start was compounded by the serious road works taking place just outside of town, adding an additional 45 minutes to our journey. There were signs, however, I couldn’t read the Polish and only guessed what it meant after it was already far too late to change course.
Which thanks to the funny Polish ł, actually sounds like Vrotswav. It is described as a contender to the most beautiful city in Poland, and after coming from Krakow, it’s hard to imagine. Even our Polish friend said we couldn’t miss a trip here, heaping up even more to the expectation that this city had to deliver.
Parking was painless enough, and was only a short walk to the old town through some grey and drab concrete buildings. It started innocuously enough, with some pretty buildings along a small high street. Then we caught our first glimpses of the main square. Even in the grim and grey light we were cursed with recently, it was beautiful.
The main square, Rynek, as a whole, was definitely more beautiful than Krakow’s. The buildings here (apart from a few ugly modern additions) were elaborate and beautifully coloured. It felt much closer to a Dutch/Belgian city like Ghent or Bruges than a Balkan city like Krakow/Lublin/Vilnius etc.
Gnomes of Wroclaw
This was fun! It took us a while to spot our first gnome, but afterwards, we couldn’t help pick them out. They are said to be in excess of 200 of these guys around town – though I think we spotted at most 20. They are comical, and exceptionally mischievous in their pose and placements. There are maps for sale to find them all, but surely the hunt is half the enjoyment.
Church of St. Elizabeth
Just outside of the Market Square, and behind a cute little pair of houses was this large church. It was pretty inside, with some surprisingly modern stained glass windows depicting the pain the people of the city suffered during WW2, as well as during the Soviet occupation following. There were panels depicting officers that were slain, as well as scenes showing the Siberian work camps many citizens were sent to.
This alone made it worth a visit, however, being able to climb the 302 steps – which literally spiralled from ground level – and see the city from above made it an essential place to visit. The climb wasn’t too hard, but the constant spinning, and the narrow slippery steps could be dangerous – a small slip could have the potential to fall some distance before coming to rest. Thankfully we were as surefooted as ever, and reached the top with nothing more than mild nausea.
But, one look over the edge cured all. It was stunning, and truly the best way to view and appreciate the beauty of the market square. It was so fantastic that Risa even endured the miserable weather for far longer than I expected her to.
Our friend recommended that we visit the Spiz brewery, but after the last daytime brewery visit in Turku, we gave the booze a miss. The food seemed good value, so we settled for food instead. We actually squeezed in lunch between seeing the church and climbing the tower. Climbing the tower with full stomachs added to the discomfort – though, it was better than doing it with empty stomachs.
We also picked up some (famous in Poland) black ice cream, which for whatever reason tastes like coconut. I’m sure it’s logical. It also made us look like goths for the rest of the afternoon after staining our lips, gums and teeth.
The town hall is closed on Mondays, so we had to admire it from the outside. And admire it we did. It was beautiful, and easily the most beautiful building in the square – and therefore also likely the most beautiful in the town.
However, our parking was nearing expiration, and the weather was closing in, so we made a dash back to the car, satisfied with how much we managed to see and do in just three hours. We’re getting pretty efficient at ‘extreme tourism’, which isn’t extreme like Mountain Dew, but more in rushing through things in minimal time/expense, but maximum enjoyment.
We started on the long drive to Berlin, with just the minor detour to see an old bridge. It was getting dark by the time we finally came to rest in a large truck stop near the German border, but before we stopped we must have passed through the largest swarm of mosquitos we’ve ever seen. We could audibly hear them popping on the window. The wipers were working overtime to clear the windscreen, and were soon themselves covered in thick piles of the recently cleared corpses.
Before leaving I took stock of the mess the mosquitos caused, still amazed at how many must have been in the woods that we drove through. I did my best to clear them with the small windscreen washer in the service station, but it wasn’t enough and we had to search out a car wash.
Just before we re-entered Germany, we passed through a sprawling market town on the Polish side of the border. It looked like a slum, with makeshift tarps and shanty buildings selling cheap cigarettes and other manner of discount goods. It was amazing that the moment we crossed the bridge into Germany, it felt like a totally different country. I think this has been the most immediately obvious border crossing we’ve made.
It wasn’t much further, through sleepy towns and narrow country roads that we made it to this small park. It was an odd curiosity, as the bridge itself couldn’t be used, only admired. It was nearly hemi-spherical, and from the right angles, it reflected an entire circle. We were just too early for the full Autumnal colours, but even so, the slight change in hue really added to the beauty of what is otherwise a small dirty pond.
I wasn’t too surprised that you couldn’t cross the bridge, as I’ve never seen such a fragile looking stone bridge before. The arch was just a single rock deep, looking very much like a razor.
There wasn’t any further information about the creation of this park, but the bridge wasn’t the only structure here. There were several other smaller bridges, and many columns resembling the tessellated hexagonal structures, like Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.