Last Updated :25/03/06
Neil & I went to Wroclaw in Poland for my birthday in March 2006. We flew out from East Midlands with Ryanair, at the huge cost of £23 each. Neil had found a 4* hotel with an online deal for £150 for 3 nights b&b for both of us. It turned out to be a good choice as it was just along the street from the Academus bar, Kiełbaśnicza 23, which sells beer by the Browar Śląskich .
On the first day we went for a wander round the main square, stopping for some food at the Vega vegetarian restaurant. Poland isnít know for its vegetarian cuisine, so we were relieved to find this place, though unfortunately it closed at 7pm. For those less bothered, thereís plenty of meat things to try Ė you might like the lard bread, which is basically bread spread with lumps of lard. Mmm nice, I think I preferred the Czech beer cheese myself.
We took ourselves off for some beer at the Spiz brewery, at ul. Rynek 9, which is rather touristy and a bit more pricey than the normal bars off the main drag. We had the seasonal special which was a honey beer and then the dark (mocne) beer which was very nice. It was 7zl for a pint, which is about £1.29 for half a litre. We then went for a walk about, and Neil got a photo of the John Bull pub (!). Needless to say we didnít bother going in.
We walked on to try & find Rejs bar, which we had been informed was a goth pub, there was no one in at all, so we decided to find somewhere with a bit more life and went back to Academus. Here we had the Mocne Dobre, the Książęce and finally a small Porter, which was very nice. This bar was a bit cheaper with beer at 5zl for half a litre. After that weíd had quite enough beer & went back to the hotel.
The next morning we woke up with a bit of a hangover, but still managed to eat lots of the buffet breakfast which included lots of cheese, and things that Gillian McKeith would have loved, like sprouted seeds and salad. There was also bacon, sausage, scrambled egg & more sausage in the hot buffet. The best bit was the cakes, which were very nice.
After breakfast we went for a very long walk around the town. The map for the walk is posted around the place and you can just follow it along. It was a nice sunny day, so good for spending outside, but still very cold and the snow had turned icy which made it a bit slippery. At the start of the walk we saw a couple of Polish cats, one of which was washing its arse on a doorstep near the cathedral, in that way they have. I would have taken a cat photo, but decided that it wasnít the most Ö. Pose.
One thing we noticed, was the abundance of shoe shops Ė you can never go short of shoes in Wroclaw. Perhaps they are secret shoe fetishists? Who knows. As well as lots of shoe shops, there are loads of churches Ė and you can buy books & pictures of Pope John Paul II. There is even an interesting statue of him where the walk started, which just goes to show that you need very big hands to be the Pope. He also liked cream cakes, allegedly, so he would have liked the cake shop where we ended up going for cake & a coffee in the afternoon, where you could buy cake by the kilogram. There were even doughnuts and apple turnovers, though I had a slice of tiramisu & Neil had some kind of a creamy coconut cake & a hot chocolate. It cost us under 2 quid!
We continued with our walk, and decided to experience the Eastern European Department Store. No longer do these have lots of barren shelves, followed by a job lot of tractor parts and lots of cakes. You can get just about everything you might want, especially tights, and shoes. Our legs were aching, so we retreated to the Spiz Brewery to try the remaining beers that we hadnít tried the day before. These were the Weizenbeer Ė which I usually like, unlike Gazza Ė but not this one. It had an odd taste to it, which wasnít quite right. We then had the normal light (Jesne) beer and finally the strong (mocne) beer. Bear in mind that the beer here is strong anyway, so if itís mocne itís going to be really strong! Gents beware, there is a Putz Frau in the toilets, if youíre female (or lucky like Neil Ė she was on her break) you can get away without paying.
After the beer, it was time for food & this time we went to a Greek restaurant on Rynek, where Neil had stuffed aubergine & I had 4 cheese pizza plus a beer each for under a tenner. The waiter spoke good English and they had an English menu. It was quite amusing, as there were some Polish businessmen in entertaining some Japanese guests, they had bought a bottle of Finlandia vodka which was in a wine cooler with lots of ice & this kept being poured out with lots of toasting going on. I wondered what the Japanese made of it all.
So now we were well stuffed, it was time for more beer, so we decided to try Rejs bar again. There were still no goths, but there were quite a few people in Ė mainly chain smoking students. The pub seems to have its own Rejs beer but we donít know who it was brewed by, as no one spoke English, though I suspect it came from the Carlsberg owned brewery in the town. There was a small dog at the bar on a stool who insisted on being stroked by whoever was near Ė he didnít care that we couldnít speak Polish. Quite a few people left, leaving only the barflies and us. Neil decided that they were like the characters in the Simpsons, so we spent some time working out which was Barney.
After this it was back to Academus for another beer, before we discovered we were out of money and decided to go back to the hotel.
On the Tuesday we woke up to find it was snowing. We were due to meet up with a Polish friend at about 3.30, so we decided to spend the morning sight seeing. We visited the Radowice Panorama which is a painting of a battle against the Russians that the Poles won in the 18th Century, although they lost the war as a whole. This seemed to sum up the Polish way Ė celebrating the little victories whilst everything on the whole is going tits up! Still it was quite interesting, and after that we decided it was probably time for more beer.
One of the recommendations we found was Piwosz, which was claimed to be like Pragueís Pivni Galerie, but in Poland, be warned, it isnít. It does have a lot of Polish beers available and Belgian beers, but it doesnít have a sit down area where you can try them Ė itís basically a Polish off licence. Worth going to if you want to sit in your hotel room & drink, or if you are over in the summer & want to go & sit in a park & have a cold beer. We bought a few bottles to bring back with us, but as we were doing it hand luggage only, we couldnít get many. The street name is also incorrect in the recommendation, it should be Ul Stefana Zeromskiego, not Zerumski.
Drink Markt Piwniak at ul.Szwedzka 15b and Piwoszek on Dworcova 4 are similar Ė we didnít go in as we had enough beer to carry, but we did walk past them both. These are both on the way to the train station, so if people are combining trains and beer they are probably better to visit than Piwosz which is to the north of the city and quite out of the way.
Following our visit to Piwosz we dropped our beer supplies back at the hotel and went out to meet Marcin. He took us to a bar frequented by Polish people called Mleczarnia, itís run by a guy from Kracow, and apparently has a Kracowian atmosphere. It was quite a cool place, very dark with candles on the tables and seemed to have a choice of beers in bottles or on draft. We had the draft beer, which was the local usual brew. Oh the website is in Polish, so itís pretty meaningless unless youíve got a translator.
There followed a fairly pointless wander around to find somewhere to eat, before we ended up in a pretty dodgy restaurant called Ö which was one step up from MuckDonalds, though I thought the pizzas we had were okay, the burgers & kebabs that others were having were accompanied by Mac-chip style fries which looked pretty anaemic. After this we found a cellar bar club called Fuzon, which is supposed to play punk and alternative. It started off quite well with some Polish punky stuff, but soon degenerated into western electronica, when it got to Depeche Mode it was time to call it a night & go back to the hotel. The beer was called Warka, and was a pilsner style beer, there was also bottled beer, but we didnít stay long enough to check it out. Some lads opposite were getting pretty hammered on it though, and you could also buy beer by the jug.
All in all, Iím not sure that there is enough to do in Wroclaw to spend too long there especially in the winter, itís was quite good for a few days, and would be a good stopping off point on the way around Poland taking in a few other towns. Itís also close to Prague, and within easy reach of Berlin so you could make time to have a trip over before returning to more of a beer paradise!