'orrible yet optimistic .

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I don't mind if you despise this blog,yes it's great if you enjoy it, but rather selfishly, it's for me.It's oddly comforting knowing that my little opinion is floating around in cybersapce and will always be here.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

European adventures: Wroclaw (Poland!)

In Wroclaw in Wroclaw, it's raining in Wroclaw!

The train journey was 6 hours and probably the smoothest yet, no thunder storms, no directional errors and I slept for 4 of the hours so it went pretty quickly indeed! On the train on the way to a new location I'd make a habit of whipping out my electronic translator ( a family friend bought it for me so I was determined to get some use out of it!) I'd teach myself and attempt to teach the others basic phrases like please and thank you. 'Jimcoya' , how you say it ,not spell it ,was thank you in Polish , I can't get it out of my head,whilst out there however I could not pronounce it at all! I made a habit of declaring my feelings of a country pretty early on. Annoucning ' I LOVE POLAND!' pretty much as soon as we crossed the border was maybe a little bit rash.

We arrived in Wroclaws temporary train station ( rubble,falling ceilings, paper walls) with no water, no food, no Polish money and no idea where we were in relation to the centre or more importantly our hostel! We walked through what appeared to be the slums of Poland, the entire time I was absorbing the new scenery I was dreading our two nights there! The slums soon turned into streets and streets turned into a beautiful square, bearing a much needed cash machine. We took out what we thought was enough money however when changing currency and exchange rates so much it was hard to keep track of what we were actually spending! Cash in had we headed to the first shop we saw, stocked up on crisps chocolate and supposedly,water. I was so dehydrated. The taste of carbonated water was the last thing I needed ,I was thoroughly gutted, it even said it in English on the bottle! The others found it mildly amusing, much to my dismay. Through asking many non-English-speaking Poles we eventually (after 3 hours of lugging our bags around, in the sweltering heat) found the 'Moon Hostel'.

Our backs were dripping with sweat, we were utterly exhausted after having to climb 3 floors of steps (later realising there was a lift), Eds feet were swollen and we were all sickening. John had been ill from day one and we had all slowly contracted it, morphing from your average, bearable cold into sneezing fits,headaches and phlegmy chests! Drained but still determined to get a fresh taste of Poland we went to the square, which we had earlier passed but had been too exhausted to appreciate. After walking around the entire block in search of a suitable place to eat we finally settled for an Italian, how very Polish!

After our meal we roamed the secret streets of Wroclaw, passing courtyards brimming with people and beer, lit up by candle light. In that moment of peering in through the iron gate I realised that Poland was nothing like I'd thought it would have been. Firstly, I was expecting it to be cold, I even packed jumped and jeans especially for this leg of the journey, secondly I thought it would be fairly expensive but it was beyond cheap! We managed to get two hefty jugs of authentic Polish beer for about £5, squeezing about 3 glasses out of it each, calculating as about 41p per pint! Beer goggles donned we walked back, batting about the idea of getting tattoos. Thankfully we dismissed the idea, however hilarious it may have been.

Our one and only full day in Wroclaw was set to be a corker. The weather was scorching and our spirits were high, despite our drinking antics the night before. We had one of our longest lie ins of the whole trip (until 10am) however we managed to do so much with the day. We had no plans, we rarely did but simply explored until we found something of worth to do. We walked through the town, through parks and beside the river, eventually stumbling across the fairly famous 'Panorama'. A 360 degree painting with 3D elements, we booked tickets for an hours time and filled the wait with blueberries in the park. We managed to keep ourselves entertained for quite sometime by simply seeing who could throw a blueberry the highest, catching in it their mouth. Leaving a mound of squished blueberries behind us, the ones that never made it, we walked over the hill to the Panorama.

There was an English commentary that I found very interesting although after 20 minutes of listening to the same man, talk about the same painting, we began to bore. Energy fully zapped we needed some grub. We saw a boat cafe with a jetty and decided it was perfect. It not only looked great, but the food smelt great, we ate pork straight from the barbecue with complimentary gherkins, bread and mustard. Probably the most Polish meal we had the entire time. On the jetty we saw people canoeing down the river and after letting our food settle, decided to join them. We entered the non-English-speaking boat house and managed to explain what we wanted, through hand gestures and familiar phrases. To hire a canoe for an hour was something silly like £3, we spent 45 minutes travelling in one direction at a leisurely pace then spent the last 15 minutes, having realised the time, going as quickly as our little arms would take us back to the boat house. When we returned the spectators and boat owners were laughing at our flustered states and typically touristy time keeping.

We already felt we had filled the day with fun but the best part was yet to come. We caught a tram to the not very Polish 'Japanese Botanical Gardens' and wandered into a massive fountain with synchronised music. Straight away we were blown away by the beauty of the place, I still couldn't believe we were in Poland and the sun was that strong! We hadn't even reached the proper gardens but one we did, we knew. There were ornate bridges, coy carp and symbolic statues, had you have been transported there, not knowing where you were you would genuinely believe you were in Japan. After a few hours sunbathing on a jetty and watching an entire synchronised fountain performance we headed back to the hostel.

When we went out on the evening we were greeted by a huge stage and an even bigger crowd, full of football fans. It turned out that Wroclaws football club had won some cup (clearly not a footy fan) and all the players had come to the city to see their fans. We were kind of annoyed,intrigued ,but annoyed. The beauty of the square at night time was ruined by dramatic X-factor esque music (which was repeated for every player) and strobe lights. We ate quickly then went to find a bridge that we'd passed the day before. We found the bridge and much much more, the bridge was full with locks (with lovers names on) but once we crossed the bridge we heard the all to familiar sound of an acoustic guitar. Following live music, as we found ourselves doing alot, we reached a small band of boys, one on guitar, one on Cello and one singing. It was magical, as was the majority of our time in Poland.

I say majority as the travel day that followed was one of the worst.
We woke up at 7:30am in order to check out and leave plenty of for getting lost. We asked the receptionist at the 'Moon Hostel' which tram to get to the train station, which she confirmed was the number 17, a fairly frequent tram. Naturally, as soon as we caught one glimpse of a '17', suitably placed on the front of a tram, we ran for it. Running , I do not mind, but running with 15kg of bag on my back is not fun at all. Puffing and panting we only just made it onto the busy tram. Once settled  in the fact we were going to make our train to Prague we began trying to relax but a rather rough polish family had made us their sole source of entertainment for the journey. They sniggered at us , clearly analysing our stereotypical 'tourist' appearance. However they may have realised that we were infact going the wrong way on the tram, forty minutes before we did. As soon as rows of shops turned into rows of crops and the number of bus stops and people dwindled, we began to get worried. We looked around the tram in hope for someone who spoke english. I noticed that there was a woman behind us reading an english book and asked her the question we had all been replaying quitely for the past half an hour ' are we going in the direction of the train station' she needn't have replied as her face confirmed our doubts, we had been travelling the wrong way for forty minutes, with 8 minutes to go until our only train left the station.
Thanking the lady profusely we got off at the soonest stop and ran across the road to catch it the other way. We had given up on the idea that we were actually going to make it to Prague that day. We got off the tram with no idea which direction the train station was, it even began to rain. Perfect pathetic fallacy. We had truly given up so we sat down to eat on a wall. Eventually we made out signs that pointed us to the station and quickly got up with our last threads of hope , we made it across the road when Ed realised that he was no longer in possesion off our 'European train timetable', bascially our bible! The threads of hope had snapped, Ed traced our steps as well as he could in search of the book but returned with a glum face. We all slumped and sighed, wallowing in one of the lowest points of the whole trip. A cheeky grin sprung on Eds face just before he got to us, pulling his jacket up he revealed the book! A little bit of happiness was enough to encourage us to continue on our quest; find the train station. Once a basic direction was acquired through asking various locals we managed to find it, after 2 and a half hours, for what should have been a 30 minute tram journey we made it, to the temporary train station which had no reliable train timetable, no seats, no shops, nothing bar rubble and pipework.

John being the most spontaneous of the group toyed with the idea of going to Warsaw then catching a night train to Prague. We wern't having any of it, after the two hours we had been through all we wanted to do was get out of Poland. John came up with the plan of going back to Germany (Dresden) the to Prague from there. We all agreed it was the best idea depsite having to wait 4 hours on the cold concerete floor. Eventually we made it onto the correct platform, unaware that the train we wanted had been stationary for the past 30 minutes and was literally just about to depart! We ran as fast as we could and just about squeezed onto the packed carriage. We were forced to stand  for 40 excruitiating minutes, John even had a nose bleed which only added to the stress.

Once we finally made it to Dresden we treated ourselves to ice creams and sandwiches then boarded the 17:08 to 'Praha', so after 10 hours of waiting , standing, running and bleeding, we were finally on the correct train with the correct destination!

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