Sunday, July 14, 2013


I am again composing a post from a bus, this time as we head back to Kraków  from Wrocław.  We had a pleasant weekend where we got to see a few of the city’s important landmarks.  I would say that Wrocław is very similar to Kraków  in many respects, but one charming element sets it apart is the city’s gnomes.  The little metal gnome statues are all over the old city, mostly in places well-traveled by tourists.  Puffer got some celebrity shots with a few of them.

 These gnomes actually represent individuals with various disabilities.  Puffer is sitting the lap of a gnome in a wheelchair.

When we arrived in the city, we started looking for the gnomes as soon as we were ready to go exploring.  Since our hotel was in the center of the old town, the first place we saw was the main square (another Rynek Głowny).  It is the second-largest main square in Poland, and other than having a few more buildings in the center than Kraków’s, it is almost exactly like it in style and contents.  Although we could appreciate the sites of the square, we were really looking for a mid-day meal, because we were really hungry!  Luckily, we found a charming alley of Italian cafes tucked away just off the main square.  The food was delicious!

We wound our way around some of the venerable buildings and made our way to the city indoor market—and just in time.  We only had about 10 minutes to explore before the market would close, but we found a couple good snacks.  What I really wanted to see yesterday was in an area far from the old city center.  One of Wrocław’s significant landmarks is an exposition hall and surrounding grounds, called Centennial Hall.  (It’s also a UNESCO site)  It was quite an architectural marvel at the time it was built about 100 years ago, because of the size of the reinforced concrete dome.  Inside the dome, now, though, they do a really neat light and sound show.  It really tricks your eyes!  The hall of course has a museum, in which we learned that one of the most famous events convened there was the Conference for World Peace in 1948.  I wonder why this important event was never mentioned in any history class I had.  Did the U.S. not attend?

We got to explore the Japanese Garden on the expo grounds, and then we watched the enormous fountain perform to recorded music.  This was the one thing I was looking forward to seeing in the area!

One more experience of note about yesterday was our dinner.  Andy found a place he wanted to go on the internet, but the translation of the menu from Polish was a bit…amusing.  If there are no impressionable children around, check out the link here and translate the page (with Google Chrome's translator).  You'll have to scroll down a bit before it becomes obvious, but you're looking for the section headed by two words, one of which is "baked."  Read carefully.  In any case, we had a great evening reflecting and celebrating Andy’s passing exam CSP.  And what is still baffling my mind is that we did this in outside at an authentic Polish restaurant.

Today we visited the City Hall and explored another distinctive part of Wrocław: its river islands.  Wrocław is actually known as the Venice of Poland.  The City Hall/museum was a good example of how buildings are changed over hundreds of years.  No one knocks buildings down in Europe; they only add on and renovate things periodically.  Wrocław’s city hall was originally built in about 1300.  The islands made for some perfect picturesque views.  It almost felt like Disney World…except that it’s the real thing.  We briefly got to see the main cathedral on one of the islands as well, although it being Sunday, we actually got caught up in the beginning part of a mass.

 The cathedral (St. John the Baptist Cathedral) is in the background.

It was a beautiful city, and a good way to relax and do some more celebration.  Now, back to life in Kraków.


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