Wrocław, Poland

Wrocław, which, for the benefit of other daft British tourists like me, is not pronounced “roh-claw”, kicked off my second visit to Poland within a year. When I arrived I was well in to my trip and had hit the tourism wall.

From prior experience of a lengthy trip, I had felt this before. The time when sightseeing and doing touristy things present less interest and I’m itching to be at home, with some creature comforts, or spending time with friends. The feeling doesn’t tend to last long, a couple of days at most, but I accepted it and took the time to take it easy in Wrocław.

Touristy things were limited to the main square and cathedral island. I ditched the free tour early on to climb the cathedral tower, a claustrophobic route to the top, where I was kept to a slow pace by a woman in front of me climbing the old, uneven steps in high heels. The view over the town from the top is worth the effort.

After travel through Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, I was itching for good beer. Without disrespecting Belgium and Germany, their beer styles are not for me and thankfully Poland gets it. Wrocław has a few fantastic bars, exactly in the style I like, and a bit of time there chatting with people and taking it easy shook off the homesickness in quick time.

The guide on the free tour kicked off by saying that Poland has three “pretty” places to visit: Kraków, Gdańsk and Wrocław. I do agree with the latter two, having never visited Kraków, but Wrocław was probably less than I expected in that respect. The old town in Warsaw was easily on par with it.

A nice quirk of the town, and something popular with a lot of tourists, is the Wrocław Gnomes. Dotted around the city are statues of busy gnomes, some performing, some at work, and when you spot one you start to see them all. A few of these are in Plac Solny, which is a square just off the main square. Located here are the 24-hour flower markets. There’s never an excuse for not buying your better half some flowers if you live in Wrocław.

Wrocław is a lovely city. For all I avoided much of the typical touristy things, I did walk, and walk, and walk… And I saw a lot purely from wandering. If you’re nearby or looking for a place for a break for a long weekend, it’s worth it. If only to hunt down the gnomes.

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