Wroclaw Town Hall Thumbnail

Wrocław, Poland: Snow White and The 14 Dwarves

Wroclaw Town Hall
Wroclaw Town Hall.

I really liked Wrocław. It’s a beautiful city, and I drunkenly stumbled into a pretty girl who offered to be my tour guide. Pretty good combination.

My favourite part was probably Rynek, main square. Cobblestones surround the Town Hall, giving the city a medieval look. It was a good place just to walk around, despite the cold weather the first few days I was in town. My walking tour took me around the four faiths district, an old church with a walkway way up in the sky, and to see some dwarves.

But my sight-seeing of Wrocław didn’t really take place until after a night of drinking with some folks from the hostel and, more importantly, stumbling into a pretty woman. Drunk and slurring Polish, I ask what anybody in my condition would ask, where’s a good pizza place? Nothing open, she says. Naturally, my second question is, can I have your phone number?

River Odra and Cathedral Island
River Odra and Cathedral Island, Wrocław, Poland.

I didn’t actually have a phone at this point, but she says yes.

And guess what?

It’s her REAL phone number! Not the fake one that you give to creepy boys but her REAL phone number. I’m as shocked as you are. (I found out later that she was walking back from the clubs and wasn’t sober either.)

The next day I decide that it might be time to get the phone I brought with me from Canada unlocked. I was surprised at how fast they can unlock these things.

Knowing that I was a film buff, she suggests we go to a movie on our first meeting. Since I had no clue what was playing in Poland at the time, she picks the movie, 127 Hours. Ewwwwww. If there’s one movie that is kinda a bad choice for a first meeting, it’s the one where the guy, a lone traveller, has to chop his arm off cause he gets stuck in a cavern under a rock. Kinda gross.

After the movie we hit the pubs. She takes me around to the more popular pubs in the area which, unfortunately, I don’t remember most of the names. Turns out she used to work for the tourist information centre in Rynek. She offers to take me on a tour of the city the next day. I agree.

We rendez-vous at the Aleksander Monument (a monument to a guy who created some literary circle or something to that effect) and then head over to the nearby Starbucks. She pulls out some city guides and gives me one as a souvenier. She used to work for the tourist information place in the central square so she knows both the touristy spots and the not so touristy.

Musician Dwarf and His Admirer
Musician Dwarf and His Admirer.

After walking around the main square we head to cathedral island. Along the way we spot the old market and some dwarves. I’m like, “wtf is with those dwarves? Is this some sort of Polish fetish?” No no, silly, she says, back in the ’80s when Poland was still under communist rule, there were some folks who were kinda pissed at the way they were being treated. So they created the Orange Alternative Movement, an organization dedicated to mocking the contemporary communist government. It was led by a man named Frydrych who is quoted as saying, “Can you treat a police officer seriously, when he is asking you the question: “Why did you participate in an illegal meeting of dwarfs?”

The movement wasn’t effective in overthrowing the government, but it sent a message: Poland wasn’t just going to role over and take communism. So, these dwarves represent the uprising against communism.

Oh. That makes sense.

Cathedral of St. John, Wrocław, Poland.
Cathedral of St. John, Wrocław, Poland.

There are 173 of them. We contented ourselves with seeing  a fraction of them.

Cathedral Island. What else is there to see but a cathedral? Oh, and a brick of hash.

Well, it wasn’t really a brick of hash, but it was a small, silver-wrapped package. Turns out my tour guide’s mother had made brownie slice the day before and she wanted to share. 😀 I inquire as to whether she herself can cook. Of course, she says. Check one.

We resume our walk and visit the Racławice Panorama, a massive 360-degree painting that depicts the Battle of Racławice. It depicts a few battles between the Poles and the Russians. Sparing you the details, since we bought tickets to the Panorama we were also allowed to visit the National Museum for free. She didn’t want to go but I insisted. I enjoy paying to see old stuff.

It was in the National Museum that we talked about the uselessness of studying history. Ah, how I love having two degrees in the subject! To think, I told her, one day her own belongings could be hosted in a museum for all to see. My favourites, however, were the self-portraits of the painters. And that’s when I my own photo. 😀

Portrait of the Author in the Wrocław National Museum
Portrait of the Author in the Wrocław National Museum.

We also stopped by the Centennial Hall, UNESCO heritage site 1165, designed by Max Berg. And it had a tall pointy tower in front of it. Just behind the Centennial Hall was a skating rink. Since neither of us were dressed for it, we skipped skating. By this point we were both getting cold and tired of walking, food and beer were needed.

We headed back to the main square to a place called Spitzle (I think), a place that apparently makes their own beer. We try a few rounds and, deciding not to use the line “Hey baby, you wanna come back to my hostel,” we call it a night.

I hung around Wrocław for another couple of days, not wanting to leave. I saw some English schools and probably could’ve found employment. I decided, however, that I wanted to see Krakow before committing to any serious employment.

And with that, off I went to Krakow, the city of the dragon slayer and milk bars.