After spending 2 nights in Krakow, we decided to spend 1 night in Wroclaw to break up our drive from Krakow to Prague. As a result of us using Booking.com so much we have actually become classified as a “booking genius” which allows us better discounts on certain hotels. This was a great surprise as when we were looking for hotels in Wroclaw, we qualified for a great discount on a 5 star hotel, so we decided to splurge a bit and book it. We spent the day in Auschwitz so arrived to Wroclaw a bit late which was a pity as we would have loved to enjoy the amenities of this hotel a bit more. We booked into the Executive Suite at the Granary La Suite Hotel and were welcomed with orange slices, an apple and macaroons! This was such a change to some of the Ibis Budget’s and dodgy apartments we have stayed in during our stay 🙂
We brought in our suitcase and immediately set out to explore the town a bit. We were only a few hundred metres from the main square. It began to rain but the ambiance of the town didn’t ruin our spirits. It was such a beautiful main square with an ornate Town Hall right in the centre. The various bars and cafes in the main square looked inviting.
We found a cute dumpling bar and decided to give it a go. Usually when we eat at a restaurant in the main square we don’t expect too much from it as in most cases the food is very expensive and the quality is very low, but not in this case! The dumpling (Pierogi) house offered both traditional and contemporary dumplings filled with pretty much anything you could think of, from liver to smoked cheese! There were so many options that the waiter had to assist us with our order as we had no idea where to start. As the dumplings are all made fresh to order we were also provided with a complimentary traditional starter of bread with gherkins and LARD! OMG, when I heard him say Lard I asked “I’m sorry, what was this?” and he explained “Lard, it’s traditional” I almost gagged but Michael went straight for it and gave it a go. I had 1 bite but that was about all that I could stomach. Our dumplings were absolutely delicious. We decided to try the traditional potato’s, cheese and onion dumplings, meet and cabbage baked dumplings and meat, peppers and gherkins baked dumplings. They were the best dumplings we have had yet in Poland so made a plan that we would return the following day for lunch.
The next morning we went for a short run around the city which proved to be a bit difficult as it was drizzling and the fact that we couldn’t find a nice running path along the river or in the city. Come to think of it, we didn’t see any runners around the city at all. So we called it quits and headed home to pack our suitcases and headed out to our 11am free walking tour. We had a quick coffee take-away and met our guide and the group in the main square. This was a small group of 12 or so people which was a nice change from the very large groups we are accustomed to. Usually on these free walking tours we are fighting for a spot to take a photo or to hear the guide properly.
First and foremost, Wroclaw’s turbulent history was explained to us. Did you know that this town was actually under rule by 5 different countries?! It was firstly under Polish, Czech, Hapsburgs (Austrian), Prussia (Germany) and back to polish rule. This seemed unfathomable, so I asked the tour guide if the people of the city had to speak different languages under the different country rule. He explained that the sense of “nationalism” did not exist and people did not feel like they were from “Poland” or “Austria” but rather they were from Wroclaw. Most of the time, they spoke Polish but during some time it was mandatory for them to speak German. Different parts of Poland where broken up into Russia, Austria and Germany so the different areas spoke the pertaining languages.
Prior to WWII there were around 80,000 Jews living in this city in a neighbourhood just outside of the main city. Unfortunately, most of the Jews were taken away to concentration camps. Nearly 70% of Wroclaw was destroyed in WWII which we could still see remnants today. Most of the main square (which used to be a fish market) and the old salt square was destroyed and has been newly built to look like it used to.
We visited an alleyway that is known for its street art. Our tour guide explained that there was probably 4 or 5 layers of paint on these walls now and due to the club located in the alleyway, it provides the type of atmosphere that promotes the street art.
We also took notice of the cute little dwarfs around the city. There are around 200 of these dwarfs around the city which can provide a fun scavenger hunt but its original intent was far from this purpose. It was actually a group called Orange Alternative and they were an anti-communism group who did not create large scale protests or anything of that matter. Instead they dressed up like dwarfs with big beers and floppy hats. They chose the colour orange as they wanted it to be a different colour from the red colour that screams out communism. So now these little dwarfs are all over the city and have also been used as a form of advertising for private businesses. As an example, hotels have created little dwarfs sleeping on beds and placed it as a form of advertising outside of their hotel.
One of the poshes alleyway with art galleries and souvenir shops that we walked through was actually a slaughterhouse back in the day. This has been converted to expensive shops but still had reminders of its past with sculptures of animals that lost their lives there previously. We did buy some great souvenirs here though! During our walking tour we also visited an old jail which has now been converted to offices and also has a cute little café. As a reminder of the jail, there are two large stones that were built into the wall originally from a prison cell which contained graffiti of the prisoners that stayed there.
We also visited many beautiful Catholic churches around the city as Poland is considered to have a 90% Catholic population.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay here (the 5 Star hotel could have helped a little 🙂 ). If you ever come here, you can play “spot the dwarf” as a map is available with all of the locations on it. Oh and you must try the Pierogi dumplings and the Lard too!