Slow Train to Wroclaw

A journey of about 370 Km took from 11am to 7pm, 8 hours , so the average speed was 46km/hour. The train originates from Zakopane, was another all 2nd class train, but I had a booked seat, although there were already 5 hefty polish men in the 8 seat cabin when I boarded (two facing bench seats , 4 a side ) so I did what most Poles do in this situation, walked along the corridor until I came to an empty berth and settled in. Surprisingly I was alone for about half the trip, but then as it stopped at almost every town and village along the way for the last 6 hours, I shared my cabin with eventually, 7 others and a dog!

The contingent of friends and family who came to farewell the young woman and her canine companion, seemed to be more distressed and sad to see the dog depart, waving and blowing kisses to the pooch through the window. It is increasingly common now, for humans to travel with an animal, not just for friendship and the occasional lick, but allegedly such dogs provide medical support. I understand the fact that a dog may be valuable for those who have lost sight or hearing, but the list of seemingly miraculous abilities of dogs to detect or warn their owner now include such things as

  • A diabetic coma – too high or too low glucose
  • An epileptic fit
  • Narcolepsy
  • A panic attack
  • Migraine
  • And finally and by no means least and surely most impressively, cancer.

I would say that from the constant grazing of buns, cakes, doughnuts and chocolate bars, that the woman was absolutely in no danger of having a ‘hypo’ but rather that her blood sugars would be very high, a state that does not require Lassie to diagnose. Moreover some 2 hours later she suddenly lapsed into a deep sleep not in any way related to Narcolepsy, but simply a post prandial nap, induced by a surge of blood to the liver and concomitant severe reduction of blood flow to the brain. The dog, to its credit did indeed detect that things were not normal and spent the best part of several minutes licking her face, lips and ears, all to no avail and she remained semi comatose until we arrived at Wroclaw. Another woman boarded at the next station with a dog that resembled a Siberian Wolf Hound. I saw on one of my walks to stretch many legs, that she had a cabin to herself (and ‘das hund’) – which of course is a brilliant way to score an empty cabin. The dog might detect a panic attack in its owner, but sure as hell would provoke one in anyone else.

I am in my penultimate town, tomorrow is my last train trip to Dresden. Having now toured several of the recommended towns and cities of Poland and walked on average 15km a day, through the ‘historical old town’ of each and every one, I detect a profound sense of familiarity in all the old towns’ ‘ main square. Here is a photo of the Rynek Glowny of Wroclaw:

For those of you who wish to stay at home rather then cope with the crush of visiting all the European main tourist cities and towns and their ‘old town main square’, here is my analysis. Think of a large area, the size at least of a football field. In the centre will be a Town Hall and around the 4 sides are delightful 17 and 18th century, homes and small palaces, all of them a painted in different colours so long as the hue belongs to what an Australian colour consultant would classify as ‘heritage’ in type.

I have dozens of pictures of quaint town squares taken over the past few years and they are all strikingly similar. The sad thing is that what makes them even more so is that many of these medieval, baroque structures are now occupied on ground level by American fast food chains: McDonald, KFC, Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Cafe, Burger King, Wendy’s, the list is never ending. We surely are becoming ‘one world’ at least in terms of America culture.

The Old Town Hall in the middle of the square – at dusk

Two pictures showing some detail of the facade of the Town Hall during the day:

Now I will show you come of the photos I took on my day’s walk around Wroclaw ,

  • The streets around the square
  • The Old University precinct
  • The Cathedral Island
  • The Theatre district

I make the point that in the vast majority of European cities, those magnificent edifices that were constructed centuries ago, were ravaged by the destruction of the Second World War – and both sides the terrible conflict were responsible: Germans, British and Russian and in Poland I suspect that the Russians and Germans were the main culprits. So basically what we see as wonderful architecture has been lovingly and faithfully restored from 1947 onwards. Two pictures will illustrate this so poignantly;

Cathedral of St John the Baptist – 1947

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist – 2018

Incidentally, have you ever wondered what happens when one is shooting a panorma with the iphone and suddenly a bloody car drives into view? One swears and stops the panorama.Note the Burger King outlet

The ‘Sand Bridge’ across the moat/river to Cathedral Island. It’s the most number of ‘commitment padlocks’ I have ever seen on one bridge and the other side was just as dense. I seem to recall there was a similar bridge somewhere in Paris I think that the civic fathers had to dismantle the rails as the structure was threatening to collapse under the weight into the Seine.

I stumbled across the Wroclaw ‘central market’ not a patch on the Adelaide Central Market.

The original Wroclaw University building now the University Museum of it’s history.

The National Forum of Music and Plaza. Essentially a Performing Space – similar to the Adelaide Festival Theatre.

I would be remiss not to include the Wroclaw Opera Theatre. I missed out on the opening night of Rossini ‘La Cenerentola’ by a day – it’s tomorrow.