Tatiana and I have been travelling for about two weeks now. First three days in Berlin again, where we revisited the Neptune in Alexanderplatz to feel up the naked female statues! We also trammed it to Voltz Park, people’s park, to explore the fairy tale fountain with all the lovely statues to children’s fairy stories: Snow White and her seven dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, etc. Then the journey to Poland. We took the train to Poznan and stayed three days. A very interesting, busy and crowded old town square (Stari Ryneck) with old houses and huge town hall and many restaurants. Unfortunately the four interesting fountains were for some unknown reason turned off! We wandered around bumping to tables and tourists alike, tripped over chairs, and generally just wandered about. One kind local guy took us along with his two young daughters to the cathedral on the island in the Warta River, but a wedding was in session, so we left!
Next was Gdansk for four nights. However, the first hostel we visited had only Polish speaking staff in a residential neighbourhood far from the centre. Gdansk seems to possess people speaking little English. We were sent to another hostel near the Fishers market, cheap but not the most helpful staff! It was near the river and only a ten minute walk to the old town. An interesting area with Long Market on the river and Long Street with its many historical old buildings. Its a little confusing as the numbers in this street run in opposing order! The most important and impressive objects being Green Gate at the one end of the Royal Way and Golden Gate at the other end with Upper Gate at the top. There are many houses with different architectural styles, the Lion’s Castle being one of the best examples. A ferry ride of two hours up the river, and on the Baltic sea, took us to Hel. Fine hot day. A picturesque seaside tourist town with one main street full of cafés, expensive restaurants and tourist shops selling the usual post cards and alike.
We also briefly visited Gdynia: a larger town with museum ships. Alas, there wasn’t enough time to visit the ships. In the evening we attempted to visit Sopot, a resort town along the coast about 30 minutes from Gdynia by electric train. However, the train was extremely fast and the doors closed very quickly as one tried to board or disembark. I got stuck between the doors one one occasion when attempting to alight. This frightened Tatiana somewhat and we returned to Gdansk by other transport. The electric train seems a little dangerous for disabled people. Likewise the trams are difficult for disabled people as they have narrow doors, three or four steps and often don’t announce stops. If the do make announcements they’re often too quiet to hear. When you talk to Polish people or ask for directions, they will help, but don’t often approach you without being asked first.
Next was Wroclaw, the nicest city so far. A lovely old main square with several historic buildings and churches. Each city mentioned in this blog has tactile models of important churches and city halls for blind people to feel and Wroclaw is no exception. Tatiana and I explored with our hands the St Mary and St Elizabeth churches, the city hall and St John the Baptist Cathedral. Wroclaw is notable for its 300 dwarfs! Small people who live on the ground and visit and touch people at night! They are interesting and seem to do all tasks from firemen to travellers, professors to disabled dwarfs! Great fun for us, although not always easy to spot! A bear of metal was also discovered on our explorations.
We took an eco-tour in an electric buggy. This cool local guy named Chris drove us around Wroclaw at night visiting some of the most interesting sites. We gained a discount which was cool and he let us feel several interesting buildings, dwarfs and also took us to a few colourful and musical fountains – including the multimedia fountain at the Centenary Hall – a couple of kilometres from the centre.
Now we’re in Krakow, Poland’s home of history and culture, a tourist trap and once the medieval capital of Poland. We go on a boat ride along the Wistler river later and also visit the Royal Castle and Cathedral. Another blog to follow soon.