Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Poland  , Western Poland,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We stopped in Wroclaw, in Western Poland, initially merely as a break between Krakow and Prague. We chose it because our guidebook said it was a nice place and worth a day or two. Fortunately we were more than content with what we saw and experienced here. Wroclaw is beautiful, full of parks, gardens, bustling town squares, and well over 100 bridges. The architecture here is an odd hodgepodge of just about everything. We saw Gothic Cathedrals, Baroque university buildings, and a Town Hall that is largely 17th century Renaissance looking. All of it was surrounding the massive main square (2nd largest in Europe, behind Krakow of course). It is also a very clean city, you would be hard pressed to find even a cigarette butt on the ground. The city seems very young and hip yet at the same time gave us a very classy feeling. We strolled around the pedestrian core for a few hours processing all of this diverse stimuli (thanks for the tips Josh!) before calling it a night... after a gigantic kebab of course.
The next day we walked to the main square to take in the Remembrance/Armistice/Veterans Day Memorials. We were exposed to a different type of ceremony as not only was it the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War, but it was also the 90th birthday of Polish independence (which they gained obviously with the signing of the Armistice). There were groups of kids dressed up with painted faces all carrying flags. It was an interesting experience considering we were expecting something more like the the Remembrance Day Ceremonies at home. It was neat to see the blend of remembrance and celebration. From there we walked around the old town and checked out some of the pretty little islands that collect to the north of the centre along the Odra River. For lunch we checked out a popular "Milk Bar" just off the main square. It was a pretty cool experience, they had tons of different traditional foods in a large buffet, you pick up a plate, fill it up with what you want, and bring it to the cash. It doesn't matter what you choose as they only charge by the kilo. After feasting on pierogies, cabbage rolls, meatballs, "pancakes stuffed with spinach", etc... we rolled down the street to check out the Raclawice Panorama. It is a mural painted in 1894 that depicts the 18th century peasant insurrection against Russian occupation. When we first heard about it we were not really inspired until we found out that the mural is 15 metres high and 120 metres long and is displayed 360 degrees around a massive viewing room. What made it even more real was the 3-D factor. The bottom of the mural is mostly landscape work so they literally just put real shrubs, branches and dirt around the room to line up perfectly with what is in the mural giving it an amazing 3-D effect. The detail of the mural was also quite impressive. For something so large, they definitely did not cut any corners with their attention to detail. It was well worth the visit.
We were pleasantly surprised with what we saw in Krakow and Wroclaw. Poland seems to have so much to offer with only a light sprinkling of tourists-who were mostly Polish. We would definitely come back, hopefully we can do so before the word gets out to the rest of the vacationing world. But for now we are off to the Czech Republic! See you in Prague...
Megan and Kevin
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