It’s pronounced “vrat-swav”, actually, but I think saying “Raw Claw!!” and holding up my hand as a claw is a lot more fun (and super wrong, the locals won’t know what the hell you’re doing).
I spent 8 weeks here in the summer of 2016 laughing, crying, sweating, not-sleeping and studying my brains out while working on the Delta Module 2. For anyone who is an English Language Teacher the Delta is a program run through Cambridge University and is a rigorous diploma program designed to give experienced teachers a chance to learn more about their craft and maybe get bigger and better jobs in their field. It’s a bit like a master’s degree, but shorter and cheaper. There are 3 modules: a written test, a teaching practicum and an independent assignment: they’re all brutal.
Visiting Wroclaw again reminded me of how much I love this city. It is a college town, first and foremost, hosting about 130,000 students. It feels vibrant, young, and very European. There are fantastic little bistros, coffee shops, cheap eats and bars all over the place, hell, throw a stone and you’ll hit a gelateria.
Honestly, Poland is HIGHLY underrated as a destination and after living in this country for 2 months I can say that it is a really lovely place that desperately wants to shake off the shadow of the Soviet Union and being associated as one of those “Eastern European” countries.
Wroclaw is dynamic and small. You can do this city in two days. Spending a weekend here is a great idea. There are free tours offered in the Rynek (the city’s center) which is also the largest central square in Europe. It boasts renovated buildings, churches, parks and historical centers.
Wroclaw was heavily damaged during World War 2 and was not treated well by the Soviets, either. It wasn’t until Poland entered the EU in 2004 that the city began its renaissance. Now, the center is vibrant! You can’t walk through it without hearing some kind of violin, live band or seeing someone blowing bubbles.
What do you need to see while there? The Dwarfs are a great place to start. They are everywhere! They’re really cute, too.
Strolling around the city you’ll find all sorts of side streets filled with doorways to peak in. My favorite cafe is Vinyl Cafe- a great place to get a coffee and then a glass of red wine while relaxing in a cushy chair and listening to a vinyl record.
There are tons of churches/cathedrals dotted all over, one of the more famous ones being the Cathedral of John the Baptist. I like to peek my head in to check out the vibe. Each is different and has a character of its own.
Jackson and I agreed that Wroclaw is awesome. The “milk bars” that serve cheap, delicious Polish food are sprinkled around the center. You can pick up a huge meal for 17 zloty ($4.50 USD).
I enjoyed being back in my “home town” in Poland. Being that it’s only 4 hours from Berlin and 4 hours from Prague, it’s a convenient stop on the way. Just: don’t have high expectations for the highway from Berlin. Apparently Hitler built that road to better get troops in and out of the occupied country and it has since turned into a bumpy mess (has it ever been repaved?). It’s strange, too, because the rest of the highways are totally fine.
We met up with a colleague of mine who also did the Delta and is a Wroclaw local from Scotland. Jon (or as we call him: Jono) teaches English in Wroclaw and met up with us for some beer. There’s a fabulous bar called “Ambasadora” that serves 5 zloty tartar ($1.25 USD) and beer. It’s a great hang. We wound up finishing a drunken night at Setka- a Soviet Era style bar that I used to go to after Delta lessons to blow off some steam. They give you a piece of bubblegum for every beer you order.
It’s expected that if you go out with Poles, you’ll get drunk. Our night was no exception. Beer is cheap. Vodka is cheap (5 zloty a shot) and the bars are open late. The Polish love to drink. It was also great to catch up with Jon and introduce him to Jackson.
Make a trip to Wroclaw if you come to Poland. It’s a great town.