The forecast in the north is no better and so we decided to make it south. We are headed to Wroclaw (Vrot-swave)), but will go in 2 days. Today we are just booking it south on the main roads and will stop at Poznan.
This is a fair sized city, but we are staying on the outskirts and will just take a day to rest.
South again today the weather is still holding and we made a longer route on the small country roads.
At times there were sections with dirt and some cobble roads as well.
Many farming towns in Germany will have these hay bale sculptures.
Too bad it was not at 955!
We arrived to the city and were staying just off the market square. This is always a challenge if you stay in the “old town” in any European city as there is often a maze of small streets, one ways, and pedestrian zones which can try the patience of even a saint. The GPS actually makes it worse as it directs you to places you can not go and then reroutes you on some long round about path. Finally we just drove a short way on a pedestrian road to get to the back of the building we were in to access the parking lot.
The main market square if the second largest in Europe after Krakow. The buildings have been rebuild in the old style, but some of the original are still here.
This is the memorial to the victims of the Katyn massacre.
“The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish nationals carried out by the NKVD on Stalin’s orders in April and May 1940. Though the killings took place at several different locations, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.”
This is a very nice city that was almost completely destroyed at the end of the war.
We did a bit of a walking tour of the city and on elf the fun things to do is try to find some of the 350 brass Gnomes that are hidden around the city.
“One of Wrocław’s most popular, memorable and iconic attractions is not a cathedral, not a castle or monument, but a legion of little people: Gnomes. In Wrocław’s city center these merry munchkins are simply ubiquitous – dotting doorways, alleyways and street corners; constantly underfoot but only seen by the observant. You may well overlook the first few that cross your path, but inevitably – and often literally – you will stumble upon these popular local residents. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re bound to notice the little fellas engaged in a variety of activities about town – from guarding public space to passed-out drunk.
Although it sounds like little more than a tourist gimmick, gnomes have long held a place in Polish folklore, and their current iconic incarnation as symbols of Wrocław actually has a direct correlation to the political climate of the 1980s. Under communism gnomes became the absurdist calling card of the ‘Orange Alternative’ movement – an underground protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests.”
Wieziennik – located at the old prison
The city’s disabled gnomes outside the Ratusz (including the blind Slepac, deaf Głuchak, and wheelchair-bound W-Skers), designed to bring more awareness to the city’s handicapped citizens.
Outside Pizza hut!
Wrolovek- Find this free-loving dwarf in front of the narrow tenement building known as ‘Małgosia.’
Spioch- See if you can find this drowsy fellow outside his abode just behind the ‘Jaś’ tenement
Chrapek -Find this little snorer outside the entrance of Hotel Patio.
At the souvenir shop.
Pracz Odrzanski -This little guy can be seen doing his laundry on the banks of the Odra
Outside the university
Syzyfki- This beloved and much photographed pair were among the first gnomes to appear on the streets of Wrocław.
Using his lap top near Starbucks
At the symphony hall
Italian restaurant street
Leaving Wroclaw we are going south today to the Czeck Republic to hit country number 60! It is a 280 km drive and takes 4 1/2 hours.
This means we can have a late start and still wander around on some of the small country roads. We started south west to the city of Swindica and then took a small detour to visit the picturesque Ksiaz Castle, which is perched on a hill top. It is reached by a small road with a very unusual name!
From here we decided on another small detour to see the ruins of another hill top castle Zamek Ksiazecy Chojnik.
Then we made for the “border”. We found a motorcycle shop and bought some air filter cleaner and oil so we can do the filters tonight.
The ride south west from here is very nice over the mountains and curving along the river.
The last bit is on the main highway. Arriving to the city we ended up in the very long tunnel system, which made finding our exit a bit of a problem. So now we are stuck in the tunnel (GPS now non functional) and there is a lot of traffic and we are supposed to meet some friends here tonight for drinks and dinner and it is now already 530. Well we finally managed to get out of the tunnel, get turned around, fight the bumper to bumper traffic, get back in the tunnel and get the correct exit at 2.3 km and not called at all what it is on the GPS. We arrived to the hotel, which is one of the few in the city with free parking (most charge 25-30 Euros) and it was 70% off! It is located about 500 m from the Prague castle and you then can walk thru the castle grounds to access the “lower city”, the bridges, and the old town.
We are meeting Tad and Gaila from Motostays. We have a number of friends in common, we have both been at each others homes, but we have never met. It is Gaila’s birthday today so we did a bit of celebrating.
Today we are spending the day touring the city on foot. We started with the castle grounds and the ornate cathedral. There must be a monk convention in town as we saw dozens.
This woman was in full burka with just eye slits, but like everyone else she is a tourist in the Cathedral taking photos of the beautiful church!
Same for the tourist monks.
We then made for the Mala Strana or lower city. This area lies at the foot of the castle hill and is mostly tourist shops and restaurants along the cobbled streets.
We stopped to see the John Lennon wall and then headed to Kampa “island” for lunch and some views of the city from the shores of the Vltava River.
Here we crossed over the Famous Karluv Most or Charles Bridge.
“Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. It was the only means of crossing the river until 1841. The bridge is 621 metres long and nearly 10 metres wide. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.”
The city is packed with tourists, but I’m told a lot less than are here in July and August. The old town is centered around the huge market square. This is full of tourist shops and restaurants. You can stop by the city hall to see the worlds oldest still functioning astronomical clock.
From here you can take a short walk to the old Jewish quarter where there is some very nice architecture. Then we made for the river bank again ti catch sight of the sunset over the Prague castle.