Poland’s Venice some people say. We give Wroclaw the nickname “Dwarf city”.
We haven’t spent many hours in the city when we encounter the first little ones. In the city’s Old Town Square people gather around the fountains to cool down, paying almost no attention to the dwarf “Well-wisher” which is sits by one of the benches with his large flower.
Why all these dwarves? They’re actually not that old, but have taken the city, and tourists, by storm. The first dwarf was put in place in Świdnicka in 2001 as a memorial to the ‘Orange Alternative’. This was a Polish anti communist movement, who peacefully demonstrated against the authorities, by spreading graffiti of dwarves around town in the 80s.
The first dwarf became very popular and several businesses wanted to do the same thing. Artists including Tomasz Moczek and Beata Zwolańska-Holod were asked to design dwarves. These small guys are therefore quite different, have all sorts of agendas and their own little story. There is the Accountant, the Professor, the Butcher, the Chopper-dwarf etc…
A heat wave has hit Poland, and the outdoor restaurants at the square are full of warm and thirsty tourists. We find a free table and order food and drinks. Actually, we had a little shock when we arrived in Wroclaw. We left a laid back Poznan, without any hassle or noise. After two hours by train, we find ourselves in what feels like a tourist trap. It’s Saturday and Wroclaw’s old town center is bustling with people, vendors, jugglers and music. Just about every building around the square houses a restaurant or bar and there is something for everyone. Guinness, wine, burger, pasta, Polish traditional food or beer served in huge jugs.
We take a stroll down the smaller streets that surround the square. Find dwarves, quaint little shops, beautiful buildings and just enjoy being out and about, exploring a new city. We look over maps of the city and maps of the dwarves, which are available at the tourist office. There is said to be over 300 dwarves in Wroclaw.
Wroclaw is called “Polish Venice” and we take a closer look at a couple of bridges as we cross over to the Cathedral Island. On the way there we pass a bunch of padlocks, the phenomenon has reached Wroclaw too.
We pop by the market Hala Targowa, which is full of vegetables, fruits, nuts and tea with a separate area full of funeral bouquets (!). Mum had a dream of finding a handicraft market, but maybe that is just a Christmas thing?
One morning we sit down at the cutest little cafe to wake up. In Etno Café we meet a smiling guy behind the counter, busy serving coffee for his morning customers. In between the coffee making he is chatting and joking with us. We sip our cappuccinos and see a new warm day grow. A dwarf is standing outside, ‘Newsboy’. At least he has shade for a few more hours.
The heat and the sun chase us into the shadows. When we are not searching for dwarves, we take shelter in a cafe or restaurant, where we cool down with cold drinks, ice cream and light snacks. We are taking it easy. When even the shadows don’t help, we go into the big air conditioned shopping centers instead.
Just like in Poznan, we are unable to perform some serious shopping here either. A couple of tops will come home with us, but we manage to refrain checking in an additional baggage on our way home. It’s more fun (and cheaper) to ‘shop’ impressions and experiences. In this case we’ll go home pretty loaded.
While in Wroclaw we stay at Hotel Ibis Styles. From here it is a 15-20 minute walk to the old town square, and after days of intense heat, we are tired of walking now. We just want to eat dinner at the hotel instead. We have seen that prices in the hotel restaurant are the same as in a number of restaurants in the Old Town Square.
But the food! Why haven’t we had this idea before! Wow, what amazing food!
Veal with mashed potatoes and vegetables for Mum. The meat ‘melts on the tongue’ she says. For me it’s rabbit with purée of beetroot, baby carrots and mashed potatoes. Absolutely beautiful and tender.
We toast. It’s a little past seven o’clock in the evening and temperature shows 35 degrees. I suck up all the heat and store it for cold winter nights. We declare that all good things come in threes. Wroclaw is our third Polish town, but there is room for more in the ‘collection’ of ours. 🙂