Still full from last night. Uncomfortably full.
We decided to skip our breakfast and get straight out. I had spotted one of those free walking tours which started early. We thought we could kill two birds with one stone – walk off some food and get some history and culture all at the same time.
The meeting point was handy, just down the street and outside the Town Hall. We were the only people there. Just us and the pigeons. After a while I wondered if it was still on. Still no-one, not even the tour guide. But bang on time he turned up.
He was a nice guy. Quiet and unassuming. And he had a dry sense of humour. By the time he arrived the group was larger with a mix of nationalities. This is the second tour like this that we have done in Poland and I have to say that they are excellent. Just the right mix of history, sight seeing and walking about.
Our tour started in the main Market Square. The guide explained just how much the place had been bombed. Carpet bombed. A few photographs showed the devastation. He quizzed us on the age of the buildings and asked us to guess the oldest one. Trick question of course. The older building is actually the one that looks newest – a concrete block in the corner of the square.
Interestingly we asked why the Christmas market only took up 3 sides of the square. The answer stretches back many years to when the rich and influential stayed in the houses here. They didn’t want the noise of sellers, animals and general goings on outside their bedrooms, so passed a law to stop commerce on that side of the Square. The law still stands today. They call that side, Pigeon square – it’s quiet, so the pigeons chill out here.
The guide then explained the drastic changes that happened to the city in the period between 1945-50. The city changed hands from Germany to Poland. All of the cities 250,000 inhabitants were forced out and moved to other places in Germany. They were replaced by Poles forced to move in from other areas of Poland.
As we leave the main town centre, we walk past our apartment and head towards the river. There are lots of rivers here. And the city boasts a very high number of bridges – something like 300. Every now and again the guide points out a little metal dwarf on the street corner, side of buildings, lamp posts. We asked about their history – nothing special. Over time the dwarfs had been stylised and placed in specific streets – butcher street (a butcher), the old prison (an inmate), the river side (fishing) etc. There are over 800 dwarfs now to find – a great little treasure hunt for the kids.
We cross the main river and head to another old town section. The main street still has gas lights that are lit by a man with a fire on a stick. How very quaint.
There a loads of churches on this street. I’m not exactly sure why – I had wandered off for a while taking photos.
The tour ended at the main Cathedral. Which I have to say was quite spectacular on the outside. We walked back with the tour guide to near our apartment as he had pointed out some places that we wanted to go back to and see in more detail.
We stopped at the old University. It was only meters from our accommodation, but there are no signs to say so. Inside it was beautiful. And we were able to get out on the roof for another view of the city.
At this point, we felt like we could eat. So based on the tour guides recommendation we visited a small cafe that sold loads of beer on tap and polish sausages. It was lovely.
Wendy went for the mulled beer again, but it wasn’t to her liking so I swapped mine for hers. Aren’t I the loving husband.
Now for another place that we had been on the tour – the Town Hall. But it was closed. So we headed back to the apartment to rest up a bit. On the way Wendy spotted a shop that sold waffles – bubble waffles. They also made their own ice-cream – from scratch with liquid nitrogen. So we stood in the shop for ages working out what we wanted and the guy set away making it. Right before he put the last topping on the bubble waffle he dropped it and we started all over again.
Home now for a rest and a film – the Goonies!
It was dark now. We wanted to head back out to the old section of the town with the Churches and bridges. It had rained when we were watching the movie. So I was hoping to get some nice pictures with reflections. And we did.
We retraced our steps from the tour earlier in the day. It was more beautiful at night.
On our anniversary we try to have a lovely meal. We looked on Tripadvisor and picked out a place. It was really trendy and reasonably priced. I have to say that it was amazing. I had a lamb dish and Wendy had veal cheeks. And cocktails. Then for dessert we both went for the chocolate ganache. Booom. Lush.
My cocktail was Ardbeg Whiskey, Thyme Lemon Curd, Thyme Syrup, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters and Egg White.
My meal was Topside leg of Lamb, Sweet potato mouse, red cabbage with chickpea, raisins, cranberry marmalade, preserved cucumber fluid gel and leek hay. A mouthful in more ways than one.
Wendy had Veal cheeks, plums and red currants, sweet potato puree, souv vide carrots, pearl onions, red chard, banana crisps and blackberry coulis. She said it was the best thing that she had ever eaten. And it was so cheap it felt wrong.
Now time to walk it off, take some night time photos and head back for another movie. What an excellent day.