Wroclaw

Sunday

We left Prague around 10:30am via train. The first train we were on was very nice...unfortunately for us it was headed to Warsaw...and we were not. So we got off about an hour later in Pardubice for our first transfer. It was relatively easy. Walk off one train, find the next and get right on. The train was much older and not as nice or comfortable. That ride lasted just over two hours. Our second transfer was in Klodzko. That train was much like a school bus. It got to be even more like a school bus when 10,000 college kids heading back to Wroclaw (pronounced vro-tz-lav for those of you who were wondering) for school (there are about 600,000 residents in Wroclaw, and about 100,000 students at the university here). When we arrived we were very happy to get off the train.

The next challenge was getting to our hostel. It would have been much easier if we had actually followed the first part of the directions they sent with the confirmation rather than thinking we knew what we were doing. We went from train station to bus station to metro station when we really needed to go to the bus stop. Not to mention the fact that we had only 50 and 100 zl (zloty) notes and the bus ticket machine would only let us pay with 10 zl or 20 zl...so we had to go back to the bus station and buy something to drink to get change and then go back across the street to the tram stop to get a ticket and then back across the street to get to the bus stop in the right direction. When we got off the bus we attempted to follow the directions, something about cross Ruska street on your left, but Ruska street was only on our left if we turned 180 degrees after getting off the bus. Anyway, long story short(er), after much wandering around we discovered the hostel was right next to the bus stop.

Monday

After a light breakfast at our hostel, we went in search of coffee - which we enjoyed in the shadow of a 14th century church.

After coffee we went gnome hunting (see here and here for some information).

After a bit we headed to the University Museum and the Mathmatician's Tower (one of the few things around here that was open on Monday or Tuesday). The exhibit at the museum was small but very well done. Mostly it was a random collection of things from the university throught it's history. It was a good mix of old and new in the displays (photos on touch screens mounted in 100 year old wooden slide storage cases, for example).

The view from the Mathematician's Tower would have been better if it wasn't so foggy...but it was still impressive. We also had the pleasure of learning about the 17th meridian which runs right through the tower (unfortunately they plugged the hole that was lined up with the sun at noon when they reconstructed the tower)

There were also some pretty spectacular photos of what Wroclaw looked like after WWII. Most of the city was destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

In doing some research on other things, we discovered that there was a free walking tour starting at 5pm (freewalkingtours.com, they offer tours in Krakow as well). So after regrouping in our room (i.e. getting jackets because it was a bit chilly), we headed out to find the tour. It was just us and one other lady from France and our tour guide. We spent 2 hours walking around the city and learning about it's history.

We had dinner at a restaurant recommended by our guide. Traditional Polish food and good prices. I had meat filled perogi with cheese. John had schnitzel. His dinner came with pickled beets and pickles...neither of which he likes...so I took care of those for him (those are two of my favorite things!)

Tuesday

This morning we got a late start. I guess we needed some extra rest. After breakfast and coffee we attempted another museum that we discovered was closed on Monday and Tuesday (silly Poland!).

Instead we headed to the Panorama of Racalwice which was interesting and pretty cool (as cool as a giant cylindrical painting can be).

Since our ticket to the Panorama incuded entrance to the National Museum, we attempted to go there next, but soon discovered that it is also closed on Monday AND Tuesday. So instead we had lunch at the same place we had dinner last night.

Next, we headed out the Centennial Hall to look around (we didn't expect anything to be open there). We saw the giant mulitmedia fountain (they have light shows there in the summer and a skating rink in the winter) and walked through the Japanese garden. Then we came back to our room and rested until dinner.

Our dinner was mediocre, but filling.

Now it's time for bed so we can get up early and catch our bus to Krakow!