This trip was absolutely fabulous. I have raved about Wroclaw since getting home, I urge you all to take a trip and explore, especially with children. Wroclaw is Poland 4th largest city and the biggest in Western Poland. The city is based on the Odra River and has a number of islands within walking distance all adjoined by hundreds of bridges. The river has a number of walks that usually are lined with parks for your little ones.
So, once again I was browsing flights, as you do and this was £84 return for Ben and me so I booked on a whim a month in advance of the dates we were going to go and we were confirmed for a three night stay over the late May bank holiday weekend flying on a Thursday morning and returning on the Sunday afternoon. The flight was from our local airport Newcastle which was handy as we flew at 8.15am. Being truthful, on the run up to the date I really did not want to go. I was thinking it wont be great for Ben and I didn’t even do any research or book any hotels. Literally two days before we were due t fly I decided to make a go of it and started looking for hotels. I use Booking.com for all of my hotel stays usually and if you use them quite a bit you become a Genius member and qualify for more discounts, you also receive referral codes you can pass to friends and family for £15 credit on hotel stays so it is worth using them. I decided on an apartment in the city centre for two nights and I found an amazing castle on the outskirts of Wroclaw to stay a final night which had an amazing restaurant, leisure club and it boasted fantastic grounds and a lake so I booked this for the final stay. The apartment for two nights was £107 which was fairly cheap I thought and then the castle was £110 for the one night but I booked a Junior Suite splashing out for a little night of luxury for Ben and I, I will write more on these later in the blog.
The break was approaching and I started researching what to do in the area so I usually make a list of the main things we would be interested in and then look at the detail when we get there. The weather forecast looked to be fair so we packed mainly jeans and clothes to layer should it get cold and of course rain coats as you never know. I booked car parking at Newcastle Airport which I got for £30. We set off early and got to the airport for 6.30am as Ben loves to have his breakfast. The car parking was close to the terminal and we walked from the car and headed through security. I always get nervous going through, Ben loves it and thinks it’s a big adventure. We found a restaurant and sat down to order, it wasn’t great. Service was slow and they had run out of pancakes so Ben wasn’t happy, they took an age to bring coffee and my ritual glass of fizz (yes for breakfast) so we ended up rushing after we ate to get to the gate and before I knew it we were on the plane. The flight time was 2 hours 15 minutes. Ben fell asleep as usual and I sat back and relaxed listening to music awaiting the refreshments.
We landed in a warm Wroclaw, security was easy and we had a driver waiting for us in the arrivals hall. I used a company called Rideways to book a taxi and they were great. The driver told us about some sights to see and pointed out sculptures and buildings of interest on the way to our apartment. One sculpture that took our interest was the Train to Heaven, it was on a main road on the way to town and was just great to look at.
We arrived at the apartment around 12.30 which was called AbsyntApart Krawiecka right in the centre of town in a high rise building. Our room wasn’t ready so they kindly stored our bags (travelling light as usual) and we set off to explore the area around our hotel. Within 200 meters we arrived at the old Market Square (Rynek I polish) which was beautiful and lined with multi-coloured building and had a large square fountain in the centre. Ben immediately ran to the fountain to take a look. There were people and children playing all over the square with entertainers making giant bubbles for the children. Ben loved this too and we sat there at least 90 minutes watching and Ben had a go making bubbles himself which was done with sticks and string. In the old square and all over Wroclaw are dwarf figures. We were on a continuous dwarf hunt and there are literally hundreds. I read that there are now over 350 of these miniature statues. We have quite a lot of pictures with these dwarfs. Bens favourite was of two dwarfs outside of an ice cream parlour climbing up to a window to get ice cream. We walked all around the square and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We ordered pork and polish dumplings with sauerkraut as I wanted to try a polish dish. It was lovely, Ben loved the dumplings and this is all he wanted to eat the whole trip. They tasted quite like gnocchi. We went back to the apartment to check in at 3pm and unpacked. I liked where we had booked, it was clean and modern and had a bath, I need to have a bath on all trips. We walk that much that I just like to rest my feet after a long day. We had a snooze and went back out exploring. We headed South and went to take a look at the River Odra, I found a park nearby which was packed with Polish families having fun, Ben obviously loved this. I do like to see local parks and how they fare against the ones we have at home. This was a huge one with soft bouncy flooring and sand pits. After an hour I managed to tear my child away and we set off again. We found a large parkland area, an opera house, a huge shopping centre called Renoma which is quite art-deco looking from the outside and is has real gold in its decor. We headed back to the main square for dinner, I let Ben choose so we ended up in a pizza place which was fine and we relaxed before heading back for the night.
Day two was here and I decided to head to the zoo. This zoo is the oldest in Poland so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read on Trip Advisor that we could sail to the zoo so we headed to the river to look for a boat. I could not find any boats so wandered and wandered until we found a group of people and before we knew it a boat arrived. We jumped on and 20 minutes later we arrived. You literally jump off the boat and arrive at the zoo entrance. I paid something like £15 for the two of us and entered. It was a beautiful zoo, we saw elephants, giraffe, monkeys, rhino’s, deer, wolves, various birds and there was a huge aquarium. This is a must see. We went in and it was very hot so take water with you, there are various underground areas showing a massive array of fish and then there are tropical gardens and outdoor walkways on bridges to view the seals. It was very busy, there seemed to be a lot of school children on trips. We spent a good few hours here as there was so much to see. After we had finished with the zoo I’d read that Centennial Hall was nearby with Japanese Gardens and also a fountain show so after a ten minute walk we were there. It was connected to the zoo and easy to find. We walked to the front of the hall and then you arrive at a large lake with fountains in it. We sat on the grass and then music started playing and a beautiful fountain show took place right in front of us. Definitely worth a visit. Ben played at some other water features and got splashed in the face after trying his luck to dodge the water. He wasn’t impressed but it was fun.
By this time we were both worn out. Trams operate all over the city so I found one outside of the hall on the main road that took us back to the centre. Ben fell asleep immediately after sitting down, 5 minutes later we were at our stop so I had to carry him a couple of hundred metres and back into the apartment where he was still zonked on the bed. These city breaks are tiring with toddlers but so much fun. I had a snooze too, I love holidays for exploring and napping, my favourite things.
We headed to dinner at a restaurant i had found on Trip Advisor which was in the main square. It was voted number 6 out of 665 restaurants in the city. The menu was great and we opted for Asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise and also some rabbit and duck liver dumplings, again wanting to sample more dumplings. The food was delicious, Ben devoured the dumplings to my amazement. I then had cod and beetroot and ben had some form of chicken goujons and salad. The wine was gorgeous too. It was around 7pm and really warm, id actually got sunburnt from the time in the zoo, Ben had his usual factor 50 on but i tend to ignore myself which i wont in future. We had a stroll to the main fountain in the square and we played for an hour or so before going back for an early night. I was looking forward to the castle stay the next day.
We couldn’t check into the castle until 2pm so we went to our breakfast spot that we had found called Giselles French Bakery, seriously worth a visit if you stay in Wroclaw, not far from the main square and they have lovely croissants, breads, french toast, eggs, everything you could want for breakfast. The first morning Ben had Oat and Spelt flakes porridge which came with dark chocolate and hazelnuts, it was good. I had Croissants and the second morning i had eggs and ham and Ben opted for french toast with cinnamon apples, it was so good, i wish i could fly there now for a coffee and a danish. As usual, we went walking and found an indoor market close to the river and another park. After a couple of hours we went and packed and before we left i promised Ben we could go to a dessert shop he had seen. We ordered a chocolate torte and some kind of strawberry and cream concoction, it was too sickly for us to finish but was enjoyable.
After a short taxi ride we arrived at the estate of Zamek Topacz. I was blown away on first sight. The castle was so picturesque and set in lush green grass on the side of a large lake where there were families canoeing and picnicking and having barbecues on the riverbanks. There was also life guards on duty which was good to see. We checked in took the lift to our room. For the second time, i was blown away. This was the biggest and best room i have ever seen. We had an arrival hall with seating, a bathroom further down the corridor, a living room, a huge bedroom with a gigantic bed and then another bathroom with a large walk in shower and a massive bath. I was so impressed, even Ben was doing happy dances in the bathroom which i managed to video to my delight. I didn’t want to leave and we had only just arrived. We unpacked again and went to walk around the lake. We saw the leisure club from our walk and decided to go in for a swim. The pool was great and had a range of toys and floats for the kids. We made friends with a german family so Ben happily played with one of their daughters. There was a fabulous looking spa too which i couldn’t have the benefit of enjoying but i would had i been able too. There was an outdoor hot tub too which we sat in quite a while overlooking the lush gardens.
I had booked ahead into their restaurant for 6pm as i was having a tasting menu and knew this would take a couple of hours. Ben hadn’t had a tasting menu before and i didn’t book it for him but i was dubious as to whether he would sit with me that long. The restaurants head chef was called Rafal Borys and he had worked with Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal so to say i was excited was an understatement. The seven course tasting menu was £35, now if you’re a foody like me and go to restaurants with these in England you know this is incredibly cheap. We arrived and i had a glass of champagne and my experience began. It was a delight and my son was good as gold over the 2 and a half hours i was there. I had brought along his iPad incase i needed to distract him given it was quite a long time for a child to sit in a restaurant. Obviously, i was rather full by the end of the evening and we wabbled back to our room to lie down and watch some TV.
The end of our trip had come. When your children cry at the thought of going home you know they have had a great time which makes me immensely happy to have given Ben another great holiday. He still wants to live in the castle in Poland and talks about it quite often. I think Poland was one of his highlights to date as when i ask where he wants to go on holiday he says Poland.
Until the next time….