Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wroclaw, Poland – There’s no place like Gnome.

I want to go home, I thought. I was tired.

“How about Zamosc?” asked Bryan, working on figuring out where we’ll go after Krakow. “It’s a little town over by the Ukraine.”
I wanna go home, I thought.
“Or we could go to Warsaw,” he continued. “It’s the capital, but it’s another big city.”
I wanna go home, I thought.
“Or how about Wroclaw? I don’t think I’m saying that right… Its a place in Western Poland where they have tons of gnomes we could go looking for.”
I wanna go… “gnomes?”
Why yes, I would love to go gnome hunting in the cute town of Wroclaw, Poland.
Gnome hunting seemed like the perfect activity to do to recover from the worst week ever in Berlin and Prague and help ease us into the world of exploring and backpacking again. So, on the train we went.
The train ride from Krakow to Wroclaw consisted of being too hot and sharing a compartment with a screaming mom and her screaming son. The mom would get mad at her son, scream at him, spank him, and then the little boy would get mad at the spanking and proceed to spit and kick his mom. Then she would give him a sugary drink. I pretty much got spit on the entire 6 hour train ride, but other than this, it was a relatively easy travel day.
We made it to our hotel 10 minutes after arriving…and we didn’t even get lost. Yes! We decided staying in a nice private room hotel would be the last for awhile, so we were pretty excited about spending three nights in a four star hotel.
Later that evening we ventured into town to eat dinner and found a traditional polish restaurant/beer garden. The restaurant was in the center of the old town square. We have been pretty impressed with the polish squares as there is usually a really cool building in the center with restaurants, bars, and cafes circled around it. The old town in Wroclaw was particularly neat because of the vibrant colored buildings, bridges, and a fountain that looked like ocean waves.
Wroclaw is a pretty interesting city and has been apart of more countries than any city in Europe. It’ been in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Bavaria, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany, the Third Reich, the USSR and Poland. As a result, there were so many ways of pronouncing and even different names for it, including Breslau which was the name of the train stop. It was a bit confusing to say the least. We think “Vratz-wav” is the right pronunciation, but were never sure.
The next morning we made our way to tourist information to purchase a gnome map. Yes, there was a gnome map.
We found many gnomes. We found snoring gnome, music lover and busker gnome, prison gnome, geology gnome, newlywed gnome, and so many more. Many of them had their own stories from a book we purchased for $3. This was the most fun we had since Nuertingen, and I remember turning to Bryan to say “I like traveling again.”
Who knew gnomes would do the trick, but this is one of the best parts of traveling…finding quirky and random things in places you never heard of before.
Later we went to the same restaurant where I had a variety of traditional polish dumplings, also called Pierogies. My favorites were the ones stuffed with potatoes and cheese as well as the ones stuffed with traditional Ukranian beef and onion. Bryan had the potato pancaked filled with beef stew. Polish food was so good, but just a tad bit unhealthy. Okay, maybe more than a tad.
The next day was spent people watching in Old town, taking pictures in the botanical garden and on top of the really tall cathedral, and of course, gnome hunting. We tried to find the “laundry gnome” which is basically a gnome washing his underwear in the river, but we failed. We could not find this little guy anywhere. Oh well, I presumed life would go on, and thankfully, it did.
This was also the first day of English Premier Football League, and Bryan was looking forward to watching Arsenal. Unfortuanly, no one wanted to watch Arsenal, they only wanted to watch Poland play. Who would have thought. Poor Bryan was pretty sad, so instead we found a restaurant on top of a really well known hotel called the Monopol for a couple of drinks.
The Hotel Monopol was one of the most visited destinations during the USSR. It was closed after the fall but recently reopened as a historical building. We watched the sunset and enjoyed the stellar view, well except for the big cathedral in the way of Old Town.
We went back to the hotel to relax before having to get up early the next day. We decided we missed hostels mainly because of the common rooms, kitchens, and meeting backpackers who have a similar budget as we do. I think we’ll try and find more private rooms in hostels, but usually there aren’t many.
Next stop, hostels in the Tatras Mountains in Poland and Slovakia.

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