Wroclaw #2: Cathedral Island and the National Museum

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January 5th 2018
Published: September 14th 2018
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The hostel provided a free breakfast, which I helped myself to. When reading reviews of the place online, I loved how some people were moaning about how basic the breakfast was. It's a hostel, it is cheap, be thankful you are getting free food at all people. Tea, toast and cereal filled me up nicely and set off to explore some more of Wroclaw. I had decided to head over to Cathedral Island and explore some of the surrounding midtown section of the city. I headed up through the Old Town, near the Town Hall, but up a different street that I hadn't explored the previous day. Once again, the style of the buildings reminded me a lot of those I had seen in South East Germany. I saw the former St. Joseph boarding school, which was a Jesuit boarding school constructed in the 18th century in the Baroque style of architecture. I also saw the former Imperial Castle, which was originally a manor house and then later fortified into a castle. In 1659 Emperor Leopold I handed the castle over to the Jesuit order and they built a church and university. I also got to see a naked man statue, Asia doesn't really do statues like that and it was a firm reminder that I was back in Europe and get to see a lot more human flesh. Also a lot of the buildings in the area are part of the University of Wroclaw. I wonder if the students feel inspired by the age and history of the buildings. It is so different to the modern, soulless facilities I have studied in. I came across some of the Wroclaw Dwarves, too. I made a mental note to go and buy one of the maps with the locations of all the dwarves on. It is a nice, niche marketing ploy by the city.

Emerging from the old town, I came to the River Oder. I could see Cathedral Island and the other islands connected to it just across the way. I crossed over the Sand Bridge onto Tamka Island. The Sand Bridge is the oldest of over 100 bridges in Wroclaw. Information about the bridge came be found dating back to 1149, obviously not the structure that is in its place now, but still to think the bridge has been there in one form or another so long is pretty amazing. Tamka Island is home to the University of Wroclaw's library, which is a very grand looking building. I walked around the edge of the island taking in the views. There were some boat docks, but I think the weather was too cold for the boat trips on the Oder River to be happening as nothing was moving. I passed by St. Mary's Parish church seeing Tumski Bridge. I decided not to cross the bridge to Cathedral Island just yet and instead take a look around the other islands attached by bridges to Sand Island. I headed over to Malt Island, Wyspa Slodowa, which got its name from the Malt Houses that had been in operation here from the second half of the 18th century. I loved the big old building on the island, I don't know if it was, but it had a bit of an abandoned feel to it. I then walked over to Bleaching Island, Wyspa Bielarska, which got its name from the local houses of cotton bleachers on the island. This island was no a nice park, which I had a stroll around. It was pretty quiet, but there were a few other people in the park.

I took the long way round to Cathedral Island. I liked walking through the residential neighbourhood to get there. It was interesting to see. I saw one shop that had a big queue outside and I was a bit intrigued as to what the people were queuing for, I think it was some kind of bakery or pie shop. I also saw some really cool street art adorning the walls of the residential area. I headed to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Wroclaw. The cathedral was built in the Gothic style with Neo-Gothic additions. The current building is the fourth one to stand on the site. The cathedral looks very grand and imposing. I liked walking around the exterior looking at the different features. I also took a little look inside, but there were quite a lot of people in their praying and I didn't want to disturb them so didn't stay long. The streets surrounding the cathedral were also really cute. Everything is so clean and well maintianed. Lots of the surrounding buildings were linked to the cathedral.

I headed back towards the centre of the Old Town looking for somewhere to have some lunch as I was feeling pretty hungry now. I came across a place that looked pretty good, I really don't know why I was drawn to the place but I was. Inside was pretty simple and the food was set up canteen style, so I could just point at what I wanted and the staff popped it onto a plate for me. The food appeared to all be vegetarian and there were lots of salads and stuff available. Since it was cold I wanted something hot, so I went for a lentil and spinach bake type thing which was covered with cheese and tomato. The food was good, nothing fancy, but hearty and filling.

I still had a little room in my stomach after lunch, so when I went to get a coffee I also got some cake. I got a pretty tasty rocky road brownie, but combined with a sweet coffee and my lentil lunch, my stomach wasn't feeling too good. I decided to head back to the hostel for a bit of a rest and ended up having a half hour nap. I felt a bit better after my nap and decided to head to the National Museum in Wroclaw. The walk there took me in a new direction and to another part of the city that I hadn't explored. The streets seemed to become a little more residential as I walked toward the museum. There were some other museums and a big park nearby. I didn't have time to take a look around them as my nap meant I would be able to spend less time in the museum before it closed. I really liked the building that the museum was housed in. It was the former Silesian regency office and was chosen to house the museum as it remained pretty unscathed by World War II. I really liked that parts of the exterior were covered with greenery. It looked very pretty. The entrance fee was 25 Zloty. There didn't seem to be much to see on the ground floor as the exhibition rooms were closed, so I headed upstairs. The first and second floor contained various exhibition rooms with mainly filled with artwork. I enjoyed looking around the artwork as it is so long since I have spent any time in Europe that I am not used to seeing these types of works. There was a lot of religious artwork depicting Christianity. There was also quite a lot of old furniture on display, which was very ornate. Hidden away on the top floor of the museum was a small exhibition showing Asian artwork. I enjoyed the museum and it was a nice place to spend a couple of hours and a good escape from the cold.

After the museum, I headed to the supermarket that I had visited the previous day to pick up some dinner. Nothing fancy, just some beers, crusty bread, cheese, deli meat and hummus. All the stuff that is not available or expensive in Asia. The supermarket was crazy busy again. The lines for the tills were so long, but at least they moved pretty quickly. Back at the hostel, I made a simple dinner and chilled in the kitchen. Stationing myself in the kitchen was a good idea as it meant I was close to the complimentary tea and coffee.

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