Poland, the country of vodka, the pirogis and the enigma.
When I arrived to this country, I must admit that it was by chance, I was not looking to reach this part of Europe, that although it still belongs to the European Union, it is the forgotten and backward part of Europe, not for this less interesting and beautiful.
Its currency is still the Zloty and not the euro, because the economy don’t have the minimum requirements to adopt the euro, and yet during the crisis in Europe, Poland grew by 15% because it was still owner of itself.
Anyway, for various reasons I arrived to Poland, looking for I do not know what (as in most of my trips, I never know what I will find and also I don’t want to create myself expectations), I was received by a good friend of mine, who used to live in Wroclaw (or in Castilian Wroclaw), capital of Lower Silesia.
After several days there I could realize how special that country is, where Central Europe begins, although it might seem a bit forgotten, there is no metro or modern buildings, in fact most of them are from the communist period, that was when at the end of the 2nd World War the communist government settled down, this government was commissioned to rebuild and take the reins of the country once the war ended, it was so that it became a satellite state of the Soviet Union leaving behind a very rigid ideology and gray buildings of old architecture, some buildings are almost in ruins, I was surprised to see the state of abandonment in which some are and still are inhabited, of course there are neighborhoods where modernity passed, but I saw very little in Wrocraw.
Something interesting about Wrocraw, is that you will find gnomes in the old town, they are very small and in bronze, so they are almost imperceptible, but they are everywhere.
There are 2 versions about these gnomes, the legend say they came to live here long ago and still live among the people, others who were invited by the inhabitants of Wrocraw to control the little demon of Odra, which made them many evils like hide their things, spit their soup, make pigeons shit cars, the legend tells that the gnomes could control it and this little demon lock it in the Mountains of the Owl.
The real version is that the idea of the gnome began as a peaceful revolution against communism called “orange alternative”, born in 1981 started shortly after the military coup in Poland, a movement that was inspired by artistic influences such as dadaism, surrealism and situationism. The symbol of “orange alternative” was a gnome with a flower and an orange hat.
In homage to this character, the government of Wrocraw gradually installed gnomes throughout the city center until today it is a very particular attraction in the region that make that once you find one, it is almost impossible not to turn around to the floor to continue looking for more gnomes.
The streets of Wrocraw are also full of art, cafes as dreary as they are unique, where it is common to see groups of friends hanging out . About the nightlife of Wrocraw I saw very few but no doubt from what I saw, it also offers many options since it is a city with a very marked artistic and bohemian inclination, and it can be seen in the streets full of art, if you have enough time you should ho out and explore it.
As for the food, of course there is no an explosion of flavors and varieties as in Mexico, but it is also very good, there was something in particular that I fell in love with, the pierogis, which is like a kind of wrapping unleavened dough cooked in boiling water and it can be filled with potatoes or cheese, they are absolutely delicious. I had the opportunity to help prepare them for a volunteer that I was doing in an old train station (Staja wolimerz) in the Lower Silence and I could see how they were made, it’s actually quite simple, the secret is in the dough.
Continuing my trip, I visited Krakow, this city is very different from what I had seen before, I liked it very much, it has everything, history and modernity together. It is a very interesting city, it preserves a lot of old buildings, like for example the oldest University in Europe, where Nicolas Copernico studied and now it is still a house of studies.
On the other hand Krakovia has an interesting and incredible old town, now declared a World Heritage Site, and where you can see much of the history of World War II, such as Oskar Schindler’s old factory where he saved thousands of Jews passing them off as slaves, now is an interactive museum, and was inspiring subject of a film (Schindler’s List), as well as the square of the displaced or in Polish Plac Bohaterów Getta, a former Jewish ghetto that today serve as homage to the fallen with sculptures of bronze alone chairs.
This was my tour for Poland, in another post I will talk about Auswitch and the WWII museum that I visited, which is undoubtedly one of the places you have to see if you are in Poland, it is a hard and crude journey about the cruelty that was experienced during the World War II, but certainly worth remembering it for not to repeat our mistakes, a site that confirms that walls and borders have never been the solution, only create the illusion that we are different, but deep down we are all equal.
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