Trip Start Apr 04, 2008
Trip End Jul 01, 2008

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Where I stayed

Flag of Poland  , Western Poland,
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday 31 May
Our first afternoon in Wrocklaw we headed into the town square.  It was full of people milling around and looking at the travel show stands around the town hall.  We listened to a rock band for a while and to a brass band that was doing a dance, music routine. 
Walked around the cobble stone streets finding a place for dinner.  Don't try eating Mexican in Poland; I guess most people wouldn't need to be told that.   We ended up with some warm beers, some tasteless Mexican and two hot but not very milky cappuccinos and walked home in the lovely warm summer air along the banks of the river.
Sunday 1 June  
We have renamed our Tumski Hotel the 'You-need-to-wear-your-ear-plugski' Hotel because it is so damn noisy.   We did not have a good night's sleep.  It was so hot we had to have the windows open and there were cars and trucks and trams and horns and people yelling and yahooing throughout the night. 
We went into the town to see if we could get a guided walking tour but they don't do them and we had missed the bus city tour so we decided to follow the walking tour in the guide book.  We were surprised to see books in the tourist office titled Breslau, the previous German name of the town.  After the war the town was included within the Polish border and everything German was eliminated and replaced by something Polish and all Germans were repatriated back to Germany, but the name still sticks. 
We walked a long way outside the square to find the start of our tour coming across some strange statues on the footpaths.
The walk started outside the train station which had its share of homeless and disabled people milling about. The walk took in the reconstructed Opera House.  Most of the buildings in the city have been rebuilt because they were destroyed in the 80 day siege of Breslau. The Germans decided it was a perfect area to stand their ground against the Russians.  They destroyed a lot of the buildings to form barriers.  For 80 days there was intense fighting and the buildings suffered. 
The Market Square (Reynek) is a popular place.  The square contains the city hall and lots of buildings with different roof lines and colours.  City hall really is a mish-mash of different styles as it was started in 1290 and building, additions and extensions were added over the centuries. 
The Salt Square next door holds the flower market.  The guide says there is all sorts of etiquette associated with giving flowers.  Always give an odd number of blooms and give yellow to your mother-in-law.  Also carnations are not popular as they are associated with the communist era; don't understand that. 
The other corner of the Market is enclosed by two charming arched houses known by locals as little John and little Mary house.  The arch has an inscription 'Death is the gate to life.'
There are gnomes throughout the city.  They are a recently new invention but have been taken to heart by the city.  .............
Monday 2 June
Finished off our self-guided walking tour and took in the fruit and veggie market where we saw lots of fruit and vegetables including baskets of strawberries and cucumbers.  We also some lovely flower arrangements and masses of roses.
Saint Mary Church looks like a derelict building from the outside, all black and brown, but when you walk inside the vaulted ceiling is impressive.  A lot of the decorations were destroyed by the fire in 1945.  To the right there is a display for children where there is a collection of moving toys with a music soundtrack.  There are bears on sea-saws, rabbits, chickens pecking at the ground and people dancing and scattered throughout these little toys are dolls of the Pope, Jesus and Mary. We have never seen anything like it. 
Over the Most Tumski (Tumski Bridge) and we were at the church of the holy cross but we couldn't get in.  A lot of the churches are closed to the public with black metal grates just inside the door. 
St John the Baptist Cathedral is a gothic construction started in 1244.  There was a film crew inside filming a scene involving a German praying in one of the side chapels. 
We went up the lift to take in the view of the city.  Wrocklaw is larger than you think.
From there were off to the Panorama which was painted by two painters and many assistants between 1893 and 94.  The immense painting 120x5 metres is also a combination of real 3D items in the foreground (contemporary vehicles, wood, road equipments etc) and creates a 360 degree very realistic perspective of the battlefield at Raclawice.   It places it was hard to identify the break between the painting and the foreground items.  The painting was hidden away for 50 years during the communist regime and was only unveiled again in 1985.
Tuesday 3 June
We walked around the botanical gardens and saw some beautiful paeonia flowers. They are plants with the most enormous pink to red blooms.  The gardens are a green oasis in the middle of town for which you pay 7 zlots (3.50AUD) for the privilege.  There are water falls and ponds full of green frogs. 
Scoured the antique stores in town for a bargain; but no success.  The shop owners just scowl at you and follow you around the store with their arms crossed.  Not the most customer friendly approach I have experienced
We decided we go on the 'river cruise'.  We couldn't get on the larger boat for reasons that were not clear to us and we ended up on the shorter gondola trip which was basically 40 minutes on a dark tea coloured river with a funny smell, going past old camping grounds, un-mown river banks, traveller camps and decrepit areas.   What fun!
We headed into town for dinner and had Italian at a restaurant on the square.  A young guy came up to me and offered me a small card with a picture of the pope on the front and what I assumed was a prayer on the back.  I shook my head no.  He then offered the card to Danny who took one.  He then gave him another card with St Christopher's picture.  He then offered the cards again to me and I took them.  He then held out his hand for money.  Of course! 
There was another beggar trying all the tables nearest the square.  The musicians who rove the square also have a guy wandering through the tables shaking a cup at the restaurant patrons.  There are also beggars in McDonalds walking around the tables and women with babies wait for you outside the toilets.
It was another warm day and the sky is still light at 9.30; so it was a leisurely walk home to our hotel to listen to the traffic and the yahoos.
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