Poznań & Wrocław, Poland
Our drive to Poznań was again marred by roadworks. We couldn't escape them in Poland, and this time they added about an hour to our trip. Once we arrived we located a lake a couple of kilometres out of town and found a great spot to spend the night, along with loads of truck drivers (we weren't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing). We took a stroll around the lake and ended up at a huge shopping centre. It had been a while since we had been inside a mall, as we generally have no use for them, but some unseen force was drawing us into this one. As we sat in the food court to charge the computer, we couldn't resist having a wander along the food offerings. Although it wasn't anywhere near a mealtime we couldn't resist the buffet - help yourself to as many hot and cold salads, stews, meats and veggies as you want and pay by weight at the end. Our massive plates came to a whopping €4 each. It was possibly the highlight of our day.
We walked back to the car and Danny started on dinner (not that we were overly hungry). Ravioli is hugely popular over here and we bought a packet of fresh ravioli to see what all the fuss was about. As we can't read Polish and there was no picture on the container, we didn't really know what filling would be inside but we presumed it would be one of cheese, spinach, meat or mushroom. Well, we were sort of right. Danny made a tomato and vegetable sauce to go with it, thinking it would go with anything. Once we sat down and started digging in we discovered that it did contain cheese, but of the sweet variety. It tasted like a baked cheesecake, inside pasta. We concluded that they must do this as a dessert and it was not meant to be eaten with tomato sauce. It was one of the weirder meals we had consumed.
After dinner we caught a tram into town. The centre square was amazing, one of the biggest I had ever seen. Usually the square is one big open space, a town hall on one side and restaurants and shops lining the other three borders. This square was so big that the massive, fairytale-like town hall sat in the middle of it, with large open spaces on all sides, all surrounded by numerous colourful restaurants and bars. It was beautiful, even better than Warsaw's. All the restaurants seemed to be packed – I guess it was the place to be on a Thursday night. Danny had to sample all the local brews so I left him to it and wandered around town, seeing the Opera House, a castle, a few churches and a grand-looking library. Overall the town was stunning, even outside the old town.
I walked back to pick up Danny and we headed to another bar, as he was eager to taste their warm spiced honey beer. Unfortunately they only offered it in winter, much to his disappointment. Instead he had regular cold honey beer, which was average. At some late hour we finally made our way back home to eat more Polish gingerbread.
Our drive to Wrocław was supposed to take two and a half hours, but thanks to yet more road works it took an hour longer. When we finally made it to the city we discovered the main "camp site" was within the grounds (i.e. car park) of their Olympic stadium. For Australians, imagine having a campground at the MCG. To recover from our drive I made blueberry pancakes for lunch using the wild blueberries Danny bought. I'm getting pretty good at cooking pancakes. Danny wholeheartedly agrees.
We jumped on the tram into town and found the centre square – another massive one, with a beautiful town hall in the middle. All Danny wanted to do in Wrocław was seek out the microbreweries, so I left him to it and wandered around the town by myself. The highlight was a visit to a painting called the Panorama of Racławicka, housed in a huge circular building. To see it I needed to climb up a staircase to a viewing platform in the centre of the room, with the painting was displayed in a full 360 degrees around me. It was set in the 1790s, depicting a war between Russia and Poland. Even the floor between me and the artwork was made to blend with the painting, consisting of sand, grass and fake trees. I just wanted to see the painting and leave but I was made to listen to a half hour audio guide on the history of the piece. Seeing as I knew nothing about this period of Polish history, a lot of what was said went straight over my head. At least the painting was worth seeing.
Other noteworthy sights around town were a few interesting churches (one of which I climbed), palaces, two small houses known as the Hansel and Gretel houses, and a courthouse that looked like a castle. One of the coolest things I saw was a series of statues on an intersection. One on side were people walking into the ground, their bodies slowly being engulfed by the pavement, and on the other side of the street they were re-emerging from the sidewalk again.
I made it back to the van at about 8 p.m., thinking Danny wouldn't be far behind me. I was wrong. He stumbled in at 11 p.m., quite drunk, having met some English-speaking guys at a pub and not moving from there since about 4 p.m. He had managed to break his sunglasses (he didn't know how) and also caught the tram the wrong way for a lengthy period of time. He ended up collapsing on the couch, and it took a lot of persuasion for him to get up so we could get the bed out. It was quite amusing.