With the Baltics over so quickly I found myself with 5 days in hand to visit Poland. The first was taken up almost entirely by a ridiculously lengthy bus journey from Vilnius to Warsaw. I suspect that we must’ve had to take a few diversions to avoid entering either Belarus or the detached Russian province around Kalingrad. By the time we arrived in Warsaw it was dark and raining – a bad start that continued for a while as the hostel, while nice, was filled with a large and annoying youth group from Sweden, and the only dinner I could find was Kentucky-fried.
The next day the sun made an appearance, so I spent a morning walking vaguely towards the old town, passing through a few very green parks, which helped to dispel any notions of Warsaw being a grey Soviet city. The old town was small, but impressive enough considering Hitler moreorless leveled the whole thing after the Warsaw uprising. What I was in might more accurately be called a reconstruction, but there was really no way to tell.
While sitting in the sun, eating surprisingly good pizza I had a think about my route to Prague. Krakow had always been the plan, but I’d found an advertisement for a new hostel in Wroclaw and it looked interesting. Krakow is a great place, but I’d been there twice before and the temptation to explore somewhere else was too great to resist.
A few hours of traveling between the train and bus stations later it was time to go back to the hostel to cook myself what turned out to be the worst pasta ever. The evening was spent watching snooker in the TV room, the only youth-group free room in the place. The hostel would be improved immensely by the building of a bar – there would be somewhere to hang out and it would discourage said youth groups from booking.
Old town – almost all reconstructed.
Spot the building that looks like a glacier.
The next day I took a fast train to Wroclaw (pronounced “Vrotswaf”, in case you were wondering). When I got there it was raining again and the vague directions I had meant it was night-time when I’d found where I was staying – a brand new, high class place with over a hundred beds but only about 5 guests.
The following morning I was off to explore Wroclaw. It’s an interesting city with a convoluted history – first it was Polish, then Czech-Austro-Hungarian-Hapsburgian, then Prussian, then German, and finally Polish again. Before 1945 it was the German city of Breslau. After the war the German population was moved to the other side of their new, smaller borders and Poles were moved in to build up the half-destroyed city. Today the old town is a strange but impressive mish-mash of different imposing architectural styles. The highlight was the cathedral, which actually had a lift to take tourists up to the top of one of the towers.
The next day I was due to be in Prague, but ran up against a few problems. Firstly the one direct train service had been permanently canceled. The best alternative they could come up with involved three changes and would’ve taken most of a day. Neither were there any bused , according to both the internet and the bus station. I was on the verge of hitching when I finally found s coach that passed through three nights a week on-route to Prague at 2.30am. It was better than nothing. If any of this does not seem ludicrous to you then take a look where Wroclaw and Prague are in relation to each-other.
Coolest railway station I’ve seen for a while, but doesn’t have any trains to Prague.
A sign inside the station.
Cinema-chair bus shelter.
Town hall. About 20 different architectural styles in one building.
Big buildings and small buildings in unusual proximity.
Big church, small door.
From the top of the Cathedral.