Using the almost version of the pretty here not the beautiful part – not that Poland is ugly its just not pretty (as in beautiful).
Not the best intro to a country that Rach and I passed some lovely time in and not my usual way to launch into things with a bad wrap…
So from the fabulous Berlin where Rach I caught up with my best friend, Tom, and his family we headed in a rideshare car to the German Poland border in Frankfurt Oder 1.5 hours from Berlin. By the way I hope Australia can get their crap together and organise some thing like www.rideshare.co.uk which is spread across Europe and lets people post their car travels and other people to join them for the Germany – saving time, money, the environment and interacting with other humans!
We walked over the Oder river and was met with a beautiful glass library as the first impression for Poland (who said Poland wasn’t beautiful!).
A wee walk through the border town noticing the set up for German day trippers to get cheap goods – mainly prostitutes by the look of it… On a bus to the next biggest town where we thought about staying the night but just happen to be in time for a train departing to Poland’s fourth largest city, Wroclaw. As it goes I always tend to run the gauntlet to get in maximum walking time with minimum waiting time – fine when travelling by yourself but no so good when with a tired hungry girlfriend who has to speed walk the last km and not go to the toilet, get a drink or anything to eat before jumping on the train as it is almost leaving the station… good boyfriend points -5.
Lobbed in the late evening to Wroclaw to beautiful sunset colours and set about finding a cheap bed for the night (seems to be a beautiful theme happening here…). No such thing as a cheap room but we went for a cool old-school style room with friendly people. Walk eat sleep – good combo.
Passed fantastic time in this big historic uni town and was hosted by a fantastic local couple who adopted us through couchsurfing and we spent the night talking, asking questions, swapping hip-hop music, showing photos, getting informed on the country and it’s people and learning about the lives of two beautiful people.
Big tip couchsurfing isn’t about a free bed (that’s a bonus and you should be gifting them anyway) but it is about an opportunity to see the life of someone else and share yours with them and in doing so learning more about their country, perspective, culture and being richer from the whole experience (not just the few clams you save on a hotel room!.)
To round out Poland we took a train SW toward Czech and spent a night in the woods camping in a ski resort town (by winter) and taking a couple of lovely (almost beautiful/pretty) strolls through European woods and eventually through the forest and into the Czech Republic.
Overview of Poland is that it is a European hidden jem, will be front and centre on the tourism map in the near future and is very different to Germany, communist USSR and any other perceptions or stereotypes you might have about the place.
Wroclaw is a stand out as are the people so don’t be afraid to go from Melbourne to Sydney via Poland the next time your booking your ticket!
As for it being pretty – yeah it is in the beautiful sense of people, places and humanity!