It’s a classic example of what came first: the chicken or the egg? Wroclaw was the last stop on our trip through Poland before we made our way back to Krakow to get our flight home to Paris. I’m not sure if our time in Wroclaw was so laid back because of general travel fatigue at that point, or if it was just a perfect city to take things a bit slower. Maybe at that point in my travel research I got a little more lax after tackling an in-depth document of things to do and eat in all of the preceding cities (I’m not as intense a traveler as I used to be, but still am a bit type-A when it comes to planning!). Most likely, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. All I do know was our almost three days in Wroclaw were characterized by lots of relaxing and chilling out, sprinkled with tons of laughter.
That’s not to say we didn’t see any sights at all. That just wouldn’t be us! We walked over to the Wroclaw University to see its beautiful Baroque chapel and the view from the top. Judging by the poor signage inside and the confusing (though friendly) interactions we had with staff, this was not a touristy city. In fact, we were kind of left to wander the halls of a functioning university and peek in classrooms, which felt like a big security breach coming from the precautions we have to take on college campuses in the US.
There also was the National Museum (an art museum), where we saw more tourists. In fact, maybe they were all hanging out here - this was probably the highest concentration of them that we saw in Wroclaw! It was a nice enough collection which we enjoyed.
Though we were lucky enough to have some beautiful weather while in town. Perhaps because any amount of sunshine in springtime sends us booking it to a park in Paris, we followed our immediate reaction to get near nature.
That certainly wasn’t hard to manage in Wroclaw. One day we decided to take a walk in the botanical gardens, which was a nice enclave in the city. Now, I’m no nature wiz by any means so I certainly don’t go to botanical gardens to identify plant life (my level of expertise is trying to keep my houseplant alive!). For us, it was just a nice place to walk around and enjoy the serene surroundings.
But the next day we went to Szczytnicka park, and I can say this was my favorite green space in the city. We paid a small entry fee to walk through the beautiful Japanese garden there, which we caught in full bloom. But that all pales in comparison to the next item on our agenda -
The Wrocławska Fontanna.
I may be making huge, sweeping generalizations, but this is what I’ve noticed in Europe. In countries further west, there seems to be a trend of creating light shows to music and projecting them onto the facades of historic buildings (take this one in Chartres, France for example). But as I’ve traveled further east, the thing seems to be to produce multi-media fountain shows.
No complaints here! You can tell we were really into just relaxing and getting some sun when I say this - we watched not one, not two, but THREE shows at this fountain. A show occurs every hour, on the hour, and to our pleasant surprise, each show changed and was set to different music. One was set to classical music, and another to my amusement included Beyonce and Justin Timberlake (it just felt funny listening to them in Poland for some reason!).
Wroclaw was a time to chill out and just go with the flow. Memorable moments including taking a peek inside Centennial Hall (that big round building pictured behind the fountain above) and finding a video game convention in progress - which was definitely more amusing in Polish than English. There was the night we asked for two glasses of wine and got served a bottle. And that was followed by an important European life event - catching my first Eurovision on TV back in the hotel room!
And kind of like how in Gdańsk when we kept ending up on the Royal Way, all paths in Wroclaw lead back to the main square. It was just a magnificent space, and we certainly we lucky to get the perfect weather to enjoy it in.
But as wonderful as this all was, I’m leaving out my two favorite things that we did in Wroclaw. Come back next week and I’ll share them with you!
What was the last destination you were in that you totally relaxed and rejuvenated ?
PLAN YOUR TRIP:
plac Uniwersytecki 1, Wrocław, Poland
Open 10am-3:30pm. Closed Wednesdays. Last entrance 30 minutes before closing. (According to the In Your Pocket website)
Small admission fee, depending on how many rooms you see.
I recommend the Aula Leopoldina (the Baroque chapel) and the Wieżę Matematyczną (Mathematical Tower). The university museum, Sala im. Romana Longchampsa, was skippable in my opinion.
National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe)
plac Powstańców Warszawy 5, Wrocław, Poland
Closed on Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays except for the last Tuesday of month (open from 10am-5pm). Winter hours from October 1-March 31: Wednesday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm / Summer hours April 1-September 30: Wednesday-Friday, Sunday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-6pm
Admission: Adults 15 pln, Reduced ticket 10 pln, Under 16 years old 1 pln, Children under 7 years old get free entry (prices as of March 2015)
White Stork Synagogue (has an exhibition on the Jewish community of Wroclaw) [link in Polish]
Pawła Włodkowica 7, Wrocław, Poland
Closed Saturday, Open Monday - Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-4pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Closed on Jewish holidays and during concerts
Free admission to the galleries on the first and second floors - The first floor features the permanent exhibition on "History recovered. Jewish Life in Wroclaw and Lower Silesia," and the other floor is temporary exhibition space.
Botanical Garden of the University of Wrocław
Sienkiewicza 23, Wrocław, Poland
Open March 29th-October 31st (including holidays), November open space only (except for the glasshouse and "Panorama of Nature"), weather permitting.
Closed from November 24 until spring
Hours: Ticket office open 8am-6pm, garden closes at 7pm except May-August when it closes at 8pm
Admission: Regular ticket 15 pln, Reduced rate 5 pln (prices as of March 2015)
Szczytnicka Park (and Japanese garden)
Located between old Oder and ul. Wróblewskiego, Kopernika, Mickiewicza, Paderewskiego and Różyckiego in eastern part of Wroclaw
The park is free
Wystawowa 1, Wrocław, Poland
Located at the Pergola behind the Centennial Hall
Multi-media fountain shows are every hour, on the hour, between 10am-10pm
Fountain is on from the beginning of May through the end of October
Old Jewish Cemetery of Wroclaw (Stary Cmentarz Żydowski)
Ślężna 37/39, 52-443 Wrocław
Open daily 10am-6pm, in autumn and winter open until dusk
Admission: from 7 pln to 20 pln, free on Thursday (prices as of March 2015)
Pawła Włodkowica 6, Wrocław, Poland
Double capacity room for about $90 USD (from website and with current exchange rate in March 2015)