7 months later….
For the last few years, me and my boyfriend have taken a trip around winter time. Last year was Copenhagen which I absolutely LOVED. This year, we were kinda stuck. We swayed from Tallinn to Riga, from Stockholm to Vilnius, from Oslo to St. Petersburg. But, well, the deciding factor was £30 return flights from Newcastle to Wroclaw with Ryanair.
I’d never heard of Wroclaw before, as I guess most people haven’t… Ok, so, some background info.
1.) It is the 4th largest, most western city of Poland.
2.) Wroclaw has been part of Germany, Prussia, Hungary, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire and, since 1945, part of Poland after the World War II.
3.) It has been chosen for the European Capital of Culture for 2016.
4.) It has a really weird pronunciation. It’s kinda pronounced ‘Vrots-waf’ (if you look on Wikipedia, there’s a link of a man saying it if anyone is really interested!)
We booked an airbnb which was fantastic – the room even came with a hammock!
The old town, Stare Miasto and the market square, Rynek felt very festive with a huge Christmas tree up, along with the Christmas markets lining the street.
We had some mulled wine and tried some Polish cheese called ‘oscypek’. Its cooked on the stalls and tastes a bit like halloumi (which is always a good thing!) There is also a fantastic-ly wonderful doughnut (ponchki) shop which we kind of stumbled upon. It’s called Stara Pączkarnia and they do so many different flavours, from strawberry to nutella to rose to peach to blueberry to apple to toffee… It seems like there is usually a huge queue outside, so I guess you know it’s gonna be good! There’s no photos included because, er, I was too busy eating I guess…..
We went on a free walking tour, which I can highly, highly recommend. They run everyday and the one we went on, the ‘Old Town’ tour lasts about 2-2.5 hours. The guide we had, Piotr, had lived and studied in the city and knew a lot about Wroclaw (including good places to eat and drink!) You can find more info here. We wandered through the old town and towards the University, from there to the market hall and finishing up in Ostrów Tumski, the oldest part of the city. At dusk, there is a man who wanders round the area in traditional costume, lighting the oil lamps, returning again at dawn to turn them off. We managed to catch him just near the cathedral at the end of our tour.
We also took a trip to the University museums, which for about £2.50 gets you entry to all areas, including up the mathematic tower giving panoramic views of the city.
As part of the city being the European Capital of Culture 2016, Wroclaw was host to the European Film Awards. This was happening the weekend we had visited and there were screenings of some of the films nominated for 6 PLN, or about £1. We decided to go and watch I, Daniel Blake, with the screening including a Q&A session with the director, producer and writer. I thought the film was fantastic and discussed the poverty that people in our own country are living in and the systematic problems of how it is being dealt with. The film is set in Newcastle, which has always been local and is now where I am currently living, so it hit pretty close to home for me. One thing which is shown in the film is the use of food banks and how their usage has soared over the last few years of a Conservative government. They prepare emergency food parcels for people who literally cannot afford to feed their families and have given out millions of these packages over the last few years, a heartbreaking proportion of these going to children. If you want to learn more, or find out how to donate/volunteer, you can find the link here.
But anyway, if you fancy a trip to a city full of history, colourful houses and good doughnuts, I can definitely recommend!