Tag Archives: the witches bridge

Poland – Part 5: Exploring Wroclaw

June 18 – 10:19 AM

It had been an easy sleep.  At this point in my journey, my jet lag appeared to have mostly worn off.  I woke up, and had two bowls of Cocoa Puffs.

Fun fact:  Cocoa Puffs seem to be very popular as a hostel breakfast cereal.  Almost every hostel we went to invariably had Cocoa Puffs.  It was nice knowing that no matter what kind of situation I got into in Poland, I’d always have Cocoa Puffs there to bail me out.

Dry Cocoa Puffs though.  Because frankly, the milk I tasted in Poland was too strange for me.  It was thick, and tasted…bleh.  Apparently, I’m not the only one to notice differences between North American milk and European milk.

Anyhow, after breakfast, Chantelle, Reid and myself decided to go grocery shopping to see what the local produce was like.


Food in the grocery store was remarkably cheap after conversion to Canadian dollars.  Reid and Chantelle loaded up on local fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

During our exploration, I learned how often I feel the compulsion to say “sorry”, and how frustrating it is to not be able to do so.  So, I learned how to say it in Polish:  przepraszam (psheh-prasham).  I kept practicing it, ready to whip it out next time I accidentally bumped somebody or something.  Unfortunately, when my opportunity arose (I think I accidentally cut off some old lady in the supermarket), I said dziekuje (thank you) instead.  Awkward moment.

Another awkward moment was when I bought a jug of orange juice.  Check out the expiry date:


Holy smokes – this unrefridgerated OJ expires in 2010.  Sounds like a boatload of preservatives to me.

I opened the jug, and took a swig.

It took a few swigs to realize that something was bugging me…I’d missed a step in the process.

And then it hit me.  The seal had been broken.  The seal had been broken off of some strange unrefridgerated 2010-expring OJ that I had just bought in Poland.

I hate waste, but I hate getting sick more.  I threw the jug out.  Poland: 1, Mike: 0.


After we got back, the whole group decided to go exploring all together.  We streamed out en masse onto the streets of Wroclaw.


The first place we went to was St. Mary Magdalene’s Church.


According to my guide book:

During the Reformation it was taken over by the Protestants and was not returned to the Catholic church until after WWII.  It’s most striking feature is a 12th-century Romanesque portal that was moved here from the Benedictine abbey.  It is considered to be Wroclaw’s most valuable relic from this era.

We didn’t manage to see the portal, though.  I imagine they wouldn’t just have that out and about for tourists to gawk at.

I was starting to get used to the majesty of the high, arched ceilings.  I had seen so many churches that they were beginning to blend together in my memory.

But this church had something else to offer:  The Witches Bridge.  The Witches Bridge connects the two tall towers of the church.

We paid the 2z, and started our climb.  And it was quite a climb – it must have been something like 200 steps.  And there were spooky landings on the way up:


But the view was worth it:


We spent a good chunk of time up there, taking snapshots, and enjoying the cool breeze.  Eventually, on shaky, tired legs, we walked back down.  Some of us poked around other parts of the church.  A bunch of us eventually went back outside and talked some more about UR-HAMLET.

And then (it was inevitable), somebody got hungry.  We left Mary Magdalene’s, and went to the market square to hunt down some food.

The group was divided on diets, so we split up.  I decided to go with the vegetarians to the same place as the day before.  The soy chops were delicious:


If you go to Poland, try the ice cream.  There are vendors everywhere, and it’s delicious.  In Poland, it’s called “lody”, and it’s b”lody” awesome.  I eventually had one almost every day that I was in Wroclaw.  Mmmmm….

Anyhow, slowly but surely, the group reassembled.

It was at this point that I got hit by a reality check:  a tiny Romanian girl (couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5) came up to us to beg for change.  Absolutely heart-breaking.  I gave her 50z, and then watched her run over to 2 older boys (brothers?) and walk away.

There were a variety of opinions on what happened.  Some felt that by giving her change, we’re just making the problem worse.  Others argued that if she didn’t go back with some change, she might get beat up by the people she was with.  Personally, I was happy to give her the 50z.  I hope things work out for her.


My friends back in Toronto are really into this hobby called Geocaching.  Without going into to much detail, it’s essentially GPS-based global treasure hunting.  It’s a cool idea.

Anyhow, the reason I brought it up was because there are probably some AWESOME geocaching sites here in Wroclaw.  Nooks, crannies, and history,  is strewn about everywhere.


Click here to read the Wikipedia article on Geocaching.

While we were walking, we saw what might be the world’s ugliest car:  a Fiat 1st generation Multipla.  Check this monster out:


Holy smokes.  Barf.

We kept exploring Wroclaw.  Our next stop was the University of Wroclaw.


Funny story about this last guy:  according to Tamara, legend goes that this man was playing cards, and lost everything.  Everything.  Everything except his sword.  I guess the University is showing us what can happen if you gamble…?

We kept moving.

Photo Shoot

While we were walking, we saw this killer piece of wall graffiti.  It looked like something BLU might do.


We decided to do a photo shoot in front of it.  I didn’t get any shots of the guys, but here are the ladies:


Our photoshoot over, I finally figured out where Tamara was leading us:  Cathedral Island, Wroclaw.  Not surprisingly, the “island” was festooned with tall church towers and monuments.


This statue is of John of Nepomuk, the national saint of the Czech Republic who refused to divulge to his king details of the queen’s confession.  You can read more about John of Nepomuk here.

Our main stop was at Wroclaw Cathedral.


The inside was nice, but I was more interested in the view from the towers.  It was a pretty steep climb, and even then we had to take an elevator part way.  But the view was worth it:


Oh, and here’s me:



The show that night was OCZYSZCZENI (CLEANSED): a Sarah Kane play directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, and it was starting at 8PM.  So, after climbing down the steps of the tower, and a short stop for a drink at a local cafe, we decided to split up for dinner before we met up at the theatre.

I’m not sure what I did – there’s a big blank spot in my journal.  I probably went back to the hostel to get my ticket for the show and had some food.

CLEANSED Directed by Warlikowski

I knew going in that this show was going to be dark:  it’s Sarah Kane, what did you expect?  It’s also 2.5 hours with no intermission, so prepare to get rocked.

And, well, I found it underwhelming.  Maybe the sadistic violence of this brutal love story blew all my circuits and I went passive – it happens.  Either way, I didn’t feel much of a reaction from myself.  To be completely honest, I wasn’t entirely certain what this show was trying to communicate to me (or if it was communicating to me), so in that regard, the experience was a bit of a failure.  There were some interesting lighting choices, however…


This is a shot of the CLEANSED curtain call.  Notice how some people are standing up, and some are sitting down?  Says a lot about this show, because this was one that a lot of people disagreed about.  The whole load of us discussed it and hashed it out while we slowly walked to the market square.

And we sat down at a restaurant, ordered some drinks, and hashed it out even more.  Some people got nightmares from it.  Some people got angry by it.  Some people found it hilarious at points.  Some people thought it was genius.  I neither liked it nor disliked it – I was indifferent.

But I liked sitting down and talking about it with everybody, hearing what they got out of it (if anything).

Here are a few shots of us discussing CLEANSED:


And then we walked back through the market square, went back to our hostel, and eventually turned in for the night.


Click here to go to Part 5:  A Taste of Total Freedom

Click here to go back to Part 4:  To Wroclaw