Before I started my trip to Wroclaw, the only things that I knew about it were that it was a city located in Western Poland and it has 100 bridges with many canals. Since I did not know so much about it or did not search about it, I did not have big expectations from the city apart from the fact that I was gonna visit the ‘Venice of Poland’. So, I started my trip with few information but with a Polish friend who would be my guide (and would every second ask what I think about the city!).
After a long 8 hours driving from Heidelberg to Wroclaw, we arrived to the city at night. Though it was dark and it was hard to see anything, I could realize the smoke coming from the factories. Then, I could only wish to have a bright air in the morning. Well, I had!
Finally, everything was visible during the day and luckily there was no rain and there was no different weather than Germany (not too cold!). So, it was perfect time to start the one-day Wroclaw trip. The first thing that you realize with the daylight that there was a Communism once in this country. The large buildings with many blocks were taking you to 20 years back in Poland. I believe many people would think same with me and would perceive them as ‘bad view’. Nevertheless, I think they are the ones which make post-Communist countries different than West and makes them ‘melancholic’. So, after some time, you start to get used to them and even like them when they give you ‘strange but unique’ feeling (those who at least visited Berlin will understand me).
Second thing you realize immediately was that, especially when you are with car, was the wide roads! Since, Poland was hugely damaged during WWII, the cities were all over constructed including the roads. I even thought myself walking/driving in autobahn in the middle of the city. When you keep walking through those wide roads, you start to see some black buildings which are not black originally but turned to black because of the smoke. even though Wroclaw does not have a big industrial are nowadays, it is obvious that they were affected in the past years and people do not bother to paint them as they will be black again. The black buildings make the city more melancholic in spite of the sunny weather.
During your walking in the streets you also encounter several bridges which are mostly small ones with canals. I think the best part about the bridges were their colors. When you just turn your head, you encounter pretty red or blue small bridges. But wait, it was just the beginning! Wroclaw Rynek, the marketplace in Old Town was full of colorful old buildings! I could not help taking photo of every single buildings (I would if I was alone!). Actually, no need to write more about it, you will know what I mean if you ever been any Polish city. (Polish marketplaces are all colorful!)
Before I finish this long writing, I believe there are some things you might need to know before you go to Wroclaw or even Poland.
1- Even though the heart of the city is Old Town, it is not the only one. Since Wroclaw is one of the biggest cities in Poland, the downtown is big and is full of old, historical buildings that you would see in any Eastern Europe! Even though it is a big city and it is known for its growing business center, you will find no skyscrapers that would destroy the city’s view.
2- As a nature lover, I always enjoy cities with mountains and if there are no, I expect lots of parks. Wroclaw totally has many parks in the city.
3- As far as I realized, the population is young which might be because of a reputable university in the city.
4- Having so many young people does not mean that they can speak English! Try to know some Polish words. Seriously! I had to go another district by myself thanks to my friend, and I just wished to know more Polish or Russian!
5- They may not know English so much, but they do everything to help you! Also, Poland is really homogeneous! I did not believe it when i was told, but you will realize that there are no people with different origins!
6- Polish people speak really low that you do not hear them. If I did not had a Polish friend who was repeating me what they told me, I would think Polish people rude. Basically, they are not rude, you just cannot hear! (I encountered those situations in restaurants or bars but not in the street)
7- Poland’s currency is zlote. 1 Euro is around 4 zlote. So, it is pretty cheap if you come from a country where you earn Euro. Also, you do not have to have zlote with you, euro is valid in Poland as well.
8- Last but not the least, you need to taste some Polish food (let’s say Eastern European). Barszcz (soup) and Ponczek (sweet pastry). Also there are lots of alternative (or hipster as my polish friend call them) cafes that you can visit through the city. I can recommend Bulka z’mastem by one of the canals.
Because we had to live city in the evening, I still do not have any idea about the Polish nightlife. I will write about it when I have my second trip to Poland in December, to Warsaw!
PS: If you come from a country where the shops are closed after some time like Germany, you will love Poland!