I can pinpoint one specific reason (out of many) why I loved Wrocław (pronounced vroetz-wav), Poland so much. Pierogies are the best. They’re just the best food in the world! But actually, I grew up eating my grammy’s homemade pierogies, so I was super psyched to try some in Poland. And I wasn’t disappointed! Unfortunately I didn’t venture out of my comfort zone and stuck with pierogi ruskie, cheese and potato stuffed pierogies topped with fried onions. If I had more wifi access to be able to translate the ingredients of the other variations, I might’ve tried more. But the plain pierogies were just fine with me.
Another thing I loved about Poland were the prices. The conversion rate between the USD and Polish złoty is amazing. In the market square I could get a big plate of pierogies for 14 złoty ($4) and out of the city center I could find them for 8 złoty ($2). I had a little bit too much ice cream there because of how cheap it was. Like… at least two cones a day. Oops. But for $1.50 for two scoops? What a deal!
The Polish people seemed pretty chill, too. I didn’t meet one rude person, and they just let their dogs splash around in the fountains. I saw this multiple times and it made me really miss my dogs!
Wrocław’s Market Square was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. The square (one of the largest town squares in Europe) is lined with pastel-colored buildings, cute Polish restaurants, and along the ground, gnomes. Little gnome statues are scattered amongst the entire city, each with a story that you can look up here.
Our first night there was the championship football game between FC Barcelona and Juventus, so in our attempt to get as much of the European experience possible, we tried to find a bar to watch the game at. Everywhere was packed, so after standing near a TV to watch a few minutes of the game we decided to head back to our hostel.
The next morning I saved directions to get across town to a Sunday flea market, but on our way we actually found a HUGE flea market happening just near our hostel! SCORE! I picked up a few items for a great bargain: a blouse for less than $5, a necklace for less than $2, a tiny elephant for about 30 cents, a change purse for $1, and a gift for my grammy for just a few bucks too. The beginning of the flea market was mostly vendors selling their new products, almost like a pop-up shop, but once we dug deeper into the market we found the real gems laid out on blankets along an abandoned railroad track. A lot of it was junk, but I always love to dig through it to find the real treasures.
Wrocław was the first place we’d been to where there was a bit of a language problem. On the bus there I looked up some phrases and how to pronounce some of the Polish letters (the “ł” actually makes a “y” sound and “w” makes a “v” sound), but I was still unprepared for bargaining with flea market vendors. Most of my communication with them was with fingers, which was confusing at first because Europeans start counting with their thumb, not their pointer finger. So a three looks like a two to Americans. The workers in tourist area by the market square mostly spoke English, but the older flea market vendors did not, at all. They even tried to speak to me in German, seeing if that was my language, but nope, not even close. I did try to use my few Polish words whenever possible though, mostly “dziękuję” (jen-koo-ya), or “thank you.”
Poland is cool. I hope to see more of it someday, especially because I have heritage there. I’d also like to try some more of their pierogies, although in the end they are no match for my grammy’s homemade ones.