Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Poland  ,
Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wroclaw (vrah-tswaf) kind of stumped us. We've been told so many things about Wroclaw that I think it was impossible for it to live up to our expectations. Everyone talks about how beautiful it is and what a cool city it is, I think we expected it to just hit us in the face when we stepped off the train. We spent a day going through the city trying to see museums and other places we'd been told about and we couldn't find any of them. We went to the history museum, and the hours were all rubbed off. We went to the tourist information centre and they told us where to find the new location. We went there, and despite the sign outside saying history museum, the lady inside told us that we had to go back to where we started. Everything was closed, moved or under construction. The city we were looking for wasn't there, and neither was anything in it.

Don't get me wrong, the market square is really beautiful. The town hall was completely different than anything we've seen before, and there were lots of interesting and unique buildings. Off the square there are lots of historic churches, but a lot of the other buildings are communist-style apartment blocks. I think it just surprised us after seeing cities like Krakow and Gdansk, where the old town is filled with historic buildings. It gives the town a certain atmosphere, and the presence of modern buildings can wreck that.

Once we got used to Wroclaw and forgot about what we'd been told, we really started enjoying ourselves. The square is huge (2nd biggest in Poland) and really impressive. Ostrow Tumski and Piasek Island, where the city of Wroclaw began 1000 years ago, was also a really nice part of the city.

Our favourite part of our visit was the Jewish cemetery. It is one of the few that weren't destroyed during the war, but it is now neglected and overgrown and falling into ruin. Many tombstones were broken or toppled over, and everything was covered in ivy. It looked like a forest, there were so many trees. Several trees had fallen over and their roots pulled tombstones up with them. It was strange being there, in this cemetery where everyone has been forgotten. I think of those people who put up elaborate monuments for their families, and now they're falling apart and the only people who see them are occasional tourists.
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