History has never been kind to the Polish people. And because of that, you can sense a real quiet determination to get on with things. That feeling really stood out this morning – we had decided to visit the Racławice Panorama. An incredible painting 114 meters by 15 meters. More on that in a minute.
But first, a coffee. Just round the corner from our apartment was an indoor market. Nothing special, but interesting all the same. About half of it was taken up by florists making the most amazing bouquets. Then there was a mix of everything else – cobblers, watch repairs, fruits, veg, cafes, meats. A typical market. On our tour yesterday though the tour guide had recommended a coffee stall in here, so we thought we would check it out.
And we were glad that we did – the coffee was amazing.
Now it was time for our little jaunt out though and a wander out of the town centre to see this painting. The building that it is in is a very plain circular concrete block. Inside however it is something quite different. Basically, there is a counter to buy your ticket, a cloak room and then a long corridor that has a locked gate in front of it. Unusual.
We queue up in front of the gate. Today must be school trip day, as there are about 50 school kids in the queue with us. But they are well behaved. A little alarm goes off and then a guide opens the gate to the corridor. We all troop along and then up a large spiral staircase to emerge in this incredible panorama. We get our audio guides and then the narrative starts.
The audio takes you through the whole painting. It depicts a battle that took place in 1794 where the Poles stood up to the invading Russian army. They lost the war overall, but won this battle. It has become iconic now in the minds of many Poles as a time when they accomplished something specific. I don’t mean that in any sort of demeaning way. Far from it. For a nation that had essentially been a buffer zone between Germany and Russia for hundreds of years, taking a stand against those super powers was a major deal.
The painting itself is incredible. Detailed, interesting and vast. Then, in front of the painting they have created a 3D feel by landscaping parts of the battle – and it really makes if feel like you are in the scene. The shrubs, broken wagon wheels and rubble in the picture below are all real.
For about 20 minutes every detail of the battle is walked through. We shuffle along the railing listening and taking pictures. All the while I can’t get this feeling of sympathy for the Polish people out of my head.
As we wander back to the town centre we talk about how iconic this painting is to the people here. The battle was small, a few hundred men maybe. But it had reinvigorated the feeling of solidarity amongst the nation at that time. That struck a chord with me. No matter what goes on in your life, how much things seem to change or are out of your control – having just one moment where you really grasp something and make it your own, that can make an enormous difference. It can be enough, even just for that day, to never admit defeat.
Now we go for total change. It’s that point in the trip where we fancy doing a bit of shopping. Proper shopping. We skirt round the edge of the centre and head for a small shopping mall. I ring Charlotte and ask her what she wants us to bring back for her. Secretly hoping that she was missing us. But she wasn’t. She was having far too much fun at Nanny and Grandads.
We pick up a few bits and bobs, presents, nik naks. We stumble across these cool statues on both sides of the road. I still haven’t found out what they symbolise. Any ideas?
Time for a coffee now. We just pop into a place on the street here. Turns out to be lovely. Apart from the staff mocking Wendy cause she asked them if they spoke English. “Of course” the waitress snarled.
I’m really trying to cut down on my food intake now. So everything you see in the picture is Wendys.
We sit for a while and then slowly potter back to the apartment. It’s been spitting on to rain all morning here so we are happy to get back and get dried out.
As I lie on the sofa I ask Wendy what she wants to do for food that night. Since her experience last night was so outstanding, she admits that she has been obsessing about her meal all day and wants to go back and eat it again. Wowzers!
First though, we want to get some more photos and search out a shop that sells locally made pottery. It’s back over near the old church area, across the bridges and into the really old area. All lit up now as it has gone dark, the place looks beautiful again and we are able to get some good photos.
Now we head back to the restaurant that we ate at last night. Wendy has the same meal again. But this time I go for the Chicken. Everything was great.
This cost £8
I had read about a place on the opposite side of the centre that was a collection of old neon signs in a small back lane. Sounded odd, but worth checking out. It took us ages to find it as it was literally down a tiny back alley. We must have walked past it about 5 times. Shame not everything was switched on, but I couldn’t help think of Marcus back home watching the Cars movie, you know the scene with all the neon lights when the town gets spruced up?
Apparently, this area of Wroclaw is famous for it’s poster art, neon signs and general design. We want to pop back here tomorrow to go in the shops when they are open and see if there is something for our hall of memories back home.
But now we walk back to the centre for some desert. We try to get back into the Pierogi place but it is totally full. So we pop round the corner to a brewery. Really, all we wanted was something sweet. But somehow we manage to sample all the beers on the menu and I manage to order a triple rack of ribs! How does that work?!?
The Christmas market is still in full swing and lines our route back home. Wendy is still anchoring for sweet treats. So we pop back into the ice cream shop that makes it while you wait with liquid nitrogen. We manage to get in on film this time.
And home again. Tomorrow was our last full day. We had pretty much ticked everything off the list that we wanted to do, so at this point I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. But hey, that’s tomorrows worry. Tonight’s worry was how I was going to stop my stomach from exploding.