Monday, September 03, 2007

Wroclaw, Poland. First impressions

Never one to follow the guide on the well trodden tourist path, I'd feel barbaric if I totally ignored the historic city centre, so the first evening I go where the action is.
This is one of those sultry evenings that I yearn for so much in the colder seasons.

What I find around the ratusz, town hall, pleases me. The quiet murmur of tout Wroclaw and small groups of tourists from Spain, Germany and the US.

Wroclaw townhall square seen from street level

The prices in Poland are still in Zloty, and haven't crept up to euro standards, so being there is very affordable for us 'westerners', whether it's lodging, food or other products.
I find the façades really impressive and charming. This being the centre, the buildings are well maintained or in the process of restoration.
(As we'll see later, outside the centre the situation is much less favourable).

It is getting dark, and anyway I have left the camera in the hotel. Now I am just taking in the impressions. The photos here were made during the following days.

Here the centre as seen from the footbridge of the Mary Magdalene church's twin towers.
Wroclaw, Poland

Here's another one from the centre: the Mary Magdalene church watching its reflection in a modern building's mirror façade.
A reflective mood
Can anyone tell me what NIE PARKOWAC means?

In my book a visit to a foreign city is not complete without a seeing the railway station, so here it is (much more later).
Yrrah in Poland
A useful general link about Wroclaw

Here is a satellite view of Wroclaw, with its amazing maze of waterways that I found so appealing.

View larger map


Dale said...

My guess is No Parking...

Koos F said...

My guess as well.

Your Polish is probably more advanced than mine, but maybe I have an edge thanks to those germanic languages.
Like: ratusz always pops up around the town hall, which is raadhuis in Dutch and Rathaus in German.
So these words are easy. However the vast majority might as well be Chinese.

Koos F said...

So happy to be blogging again.
Friends will be friends...

Anne-Marie said...

Koos, I just love the mirrored effect of the church- you have such an eye for what makes a great photo.

Isn't the blue-red sign under the no parking sign internationally recognised (for those who may not read any of the languages)?

Were the colourful facades typical, or just in the touristy areas? Very Charleston and San Fran in their peacock displays.


Koos F said...

Hi Anne-Marie,

In Europe they've made the traffic signs uniform, so that is practical. Who needs a language when there are images.

This special style with the clock- and wedge-shaped façades dominates the centre only. Further out it is more or less stucco-rococo, very ornate but often in a state of terrible disrepair. I'll come back on that in a later post.

Hmm, it seems this story might go on for a bit. I'll have to make sure the readers stay awake...

gypsy noir said...

The roofs of the buildings are so colourful, i've not seen that before.
It's surely a scenic place and steeped in history, perfect for your roving eye and camera of course..

Dale said...

Roadhouse in English...?

Koos F said...

Hi Dale: raadhuis, Rathaus, ratusz, all translations of town hall.
Funny thing is it all means council house in literal translation, but the English council house isn't a town hall.

VallyP said...

Kxxsje, the first picture always makes me think of cardboard cutouts. The facades of their buildings are so tall, and with the detail an unsupported gable at the top, they don't look quite real, but yes, so colourful and rather elegant.

I have a Polish student in my new group who also says that Wroclaw is a beautiful city, but that there are many, many more of these in Poland!

Mary Beth said...

Hi Koos,

Thanks for coming over to my blog with your charm and wit!! I still blush....

You have beautiful pictures. I agree with Anne-Marie in that I also love the mirrored church shot. As always, you have an eye for taking interesting pictures - I would never think of taking that mirrored shot myself! :)

ian gordon said...

Beautiful pictures.

All I can say is that the Brits should hang their collective heads in shame when we compare how well looked after places like that are to our own. I'm surprised everyone getting off the train in Nottingham just doesn't turn around and get straight back on again.

Great hat. Took me a while to notice the lamp. Cool.

Koos F said...

It's only pics.
My pics.
Please don't trust them, Ian.
Nottingham might be quite alright after all.

Koos F said...

You might think of it the next time around, Mary Beth. All a matter of 'focus' maybe?

atomicelroy said...

oops you've been tagged

Stevie said...

Oh Koos, they are lovely photos! Makes my photographer's eye all itchy to go see!
NIE PARKOWAC: It means No Parkas. Parkas were outlawed in Poland after the Great Goose Down Riots of 1974, when a large number of parka clad acrobats from Spain attempted to practice a complex routine in the square in front of the Spanish Embassy while simultaniously trying to stay warm in the much cooler Poish climate.
The routine required precision timing on the part of the acrobats who were to be thrown in the air and caught by their counterparts after several daring aerobatics were completed.
Tragically, the acrobats were unable to see through the fur lining on the hoods when they were upside down, and several plummeted into the unsuspecting crowd of Polish residents below, who thought they were under attack by a crack team of assassins, not just chilly athletes, and called in the guard.
I'll spare you the truly gory details, but sufficeth to say, there were several parka related maimings and even, though the government denies it, some severe allergic reactions to the goose down that exploded from the parkas.
Ever since, NIE PARKOWAC has been a common site in Poland.
Really quite tragic you know.

Koos F said...

Oh Stevie there is so much I have yet to learn. Now I see why the only parka I noticed was stuffed between a rough wall and a parked car.

Here's a link to one of my pictures featuring an individual who, in spite of the weather (and weather it was) is clearly not wearing a parka, even after just leaving the opera.

PS Wicked Pedia suggests it was 1794.

grace said...

The architecture is breathtaking!!

I enjoyed the photography.


Dan L. said...

Did YOU photograph or digital imge these pictures?

As for me...I thank you for visting my bleak and sorry website...

You remember 1957? I only recall MAYBE 1960 or so....

I DID NOT say you are an old guy. I NEVER would say that.

Love ya,

--Dan L.

Koos F said...

Always a pleasure to have you visit. Thanks.
I was not prepared for the architectural beauty, especially when the light intensified it so much.

My own camera, but first my eyes, because I went there.
Must admit I am quite content + proud of the qualty.

I think I know Dan. You wouldn't rub things in. That's why people around you are lucky.

Chaz said...

Oh wow what loely photos and what a beautiful and colourful place that is :) Reminds me a little of Tronhiem in Norway, all the houses are painted in bright colours

Koos F said...

Great to see you here, Chaz, and glad you like what you see. So did I, y'know.

The Norwegians have strict rules about which colours to apply to houses. Limiting, but both pretty and effective, don't you think?

Now I must dash to dpo an extra extra read all about it post about VAL'S NEW BOOK !!!!!!!

After that, there's more to come about Poland, and the quality won't disappoint you.

none_of_the_above said...

It does mean no parking .
(i just checked it by asking my wife).
You know even after several years in Wrocław i keep being amazed by its beauty .
I hope you enjoyed your visit here .
If you ever come back here you (or we) should have a beer at Spiż .
They brew it on the spot and its without doubt the best you can find .

Have a nice day Jeroen.