Wroclaw, a city full of colors and gnomes. 

A week after landing in Warsaw back in September, I was already eager to explore other Polish cities. Despite the numerous advice from colleagues, telling to visit Krakow, I decided I needed to first pay a visit to one of the most colorful cities in Poland. I was looking online at pictures of different Polish cities and this picture stuck out. I thought to myself could this be in Poland? This reminds me of perhaps somewhere in the Netherlands or Belgium. Vibrant colors definitely was not what I had in mind when I thought of Poland, with its conflicting past.

Image from google of Wroclaw

Back in September when the weather was still warm and sunny, I was happily admiring the vibrant colors and also people watching in the market square. I was also very keen on finding the photo spot from the Google image.

I went inside a vegetarian cafe,”Vega”, right by the old town hall, which by the way is delicious and a very affordable price. I  asked the waitress if she knew where the photo was taken. However she said she wasn’t sure. :/

After wondering around the old town, I think I found the spot where the photo was taken 😀 However, because it’s still warm outside, patios and visitors were covering some parts of the buildings, so I decided that I would return to Wroclaw when it’s chilly and sunny:) brrr!

 

And fast-forward to Feburary, I did return to Wroclaw, with a side trip to see the UNESCO wooden church in Swidnica, which I will write about in another post.

The weather was very sunny but also cold ! However there were way fewer people on the streets, and I had the colorful houses all the myself 🙂

Here is my attempt at recreating the Google image that I found.
And now, I will share my two cents on the things you shouldn’t miss when visiting Wroclaw!

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1. Climb climb climb ! Up the church towers!

For the best views of the views of the old town, climb the bell tower of St. Elizabeth. For a small fee (I forgot how much >∆<) and lots of hard work, you are rewarded with super awesome views of the cute buildings down below!

Fu view of old town wroclaw

Adorable!

Houses right out of a fairy tale

Another tower to climb is the tower of St. John the Baptist on Cathedral Island. This will/might give you a view of the sunset and the beautiful canal, which I hopd, but did not see :/ due to early closing times.

Awesome views from St John the Baptist

2. Look down, and spot little gnomes hiding in the city.

For some reason (perhaps I can Wikipedia) Wroclaw is sprinkled with little gnomes hiding in unexpected corners throughout the city. There are apps and maps that you can download or buy that gives you the exact location of each gnome. There’s a gnome riding a pigeon, eating pierogo and even one playing the slot machine 😀 I’m a big fan of gnomes because of one of my favorite childhood book —

See how many gnomes you can collect ! :3

3. Stroll around Cathedral Island and the romantic ‘most Tumski’ bridge full of love locks.

Don’t be like me and rush into buying a lock from the first lock vendor you see. The further along I walked, the cheaper the prices got !!

I was alone, but I think with your honey here, it’s going to be very romantic ❤

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our love lock hehe

4. Visit  cute independent stores.

I really like this bookstore hiding the alley behind the town hall. It has a hipster feeling to it and tastefully decorated and so serve as a cafe.  I bought a classic Polish children’s book on world maps. 🙂 I will need to learn more Polish to understand it, but the reason I bought the book was because it listed Taiwan as a country !! Woohoo ! Being a Taiwanese-Canadian, those are the small things I become to appreciate:D

Those are my thoughts on the beautiful city of Wroclaw. If you have another other suggestions please let me know !

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I’m hoping to visit Poznan next as I read that it’s also very beautiful ❤

Exploring Berlin 

Since all my school christmas concerts are done, I thought I could do a overnight trip pre-Christmas weekend. Yes it was tiring, flying early Saturday morning, and coming back Sunday evening, but I did get a good deal of sightseeing done !

Berlin might not be the most beautiful city in Germany, but it is packed of history. I tried to imagine how it would be, only a couple decades back, being separated from my loved ones by a stupid wall. Nowadays, the ‘East Side Gallery’ part of the wall serve as a creative outlet for artists and this is also the location of the famous “Kiss” between Soviet Union and Germany.  It was packed with loads of tourist and tour busses. But I did manage to take a photo 🙂 20161217_102148_batch

I also managed to visit two Christmas markets. Definitely more colorful than the Polish ones. Well, I might be biased because I have a thing for Nutcrackers and little handpainted houses, and Germany is known for that :). German’s Christmas are also complete with merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheel. However, I wasn’t very impressed with the number of booths selling trinkets and souvenirs. They seemed quite tacky and touristy.

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The famous Christmas shop at Alexanderplatz market

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I rode on later on in Rome, and I was far from merry after the ride. I got very nauseated. >~<

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In the German Christmas markets, you can leave a deposit for a Christmas market mug. If you decide to keep the cup, then you don’t get your 2euro deposit back. Each market has their own designs every year! How cute and environmental friendly! ❤

My christmas market doodles


The most famous Christmas in Berlin is called Gendarmenmarkt. It’s very famous because of it’s location amidst all the important buildings. However, I did not enjoy it as much as the market at Alexanderplatz. It was EXTREMELY crowded to the point that I can not walk and was stuck in a giant people blob:( and I am a tiny little person.. definitely not fun. However, it is still a nice market in a beautiful setting.

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I had  made a reservation to visit the Parliament buildings and their glass dome, Bundestag, a few days before arrival in Berlin. It was very impressive how the modern-designed dome merged flawlessly with the 19th century parliament building.

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The dome uses solar panels and mirrors to power the building. Directly beneath the dome lies the blues seats of where meetings would take place. The see-through glass of the dome represents how the government should work in Germany- transparent and open.

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In addition to the big glass windows at the Bundestag, I also liked the design of the Berlin train station. It was warmly decorated with Christmas lights, which is interesting to see alongside it’s modern architectural designs.

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Other things that are fun to do in Berlin include the Naturkundemuseum, or Natural History museum, home to the world’s largest assembled T-rex bones!! It also features a creepy/cool room with thousands of jars of creatures.

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And lastly, the funny looking Berlin bears that are around the city 🙂 Selfie time!

 Santorini, the island of blue domes and cats 

Finally I made it to the half term break at school 🙂 yayyy  I had long ago been planning to travel to somewhere warm and sunny for this Oct/Nov break and I was debating between southern Spain and Greece.

I went with Greece because my parents, who were visiting me from Vancouver, really would like to see the famous blue dome churches of Santorini 🙂
Late October/ early November seemed like a perfect time to visit Greece. We had zero days of rain the whole week while we were in Greece. I know that we were just super lucky… But we also had umbrellas with us in case it rained. Compare to the summer heat and gigantic tour groups, a little gamble with the weather forecast was well worth it.


Our first stop was the famed blue dome churches of Santorini. I would highly recommend booking accommodation in the lovely Oia town. Not only do we get to see it early in the morning with no crowds, but we were also able to pop back to our Airbnb for a quick afternoon nap 🙂

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We did a day trip to Fira, the biggest town on Santorini. I would say the difference in scenery would be that in Fira, one would focus on the views of the Aegean Sea and it’s volcanic cliff walls; where as in Oia, one would focus more on its iconic white buildings with the sea as it’s background.

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I researched various blog posts about taking the classic postcard shot of looking down at the blue dome churches, and here’s my take on the tips:) —

1. This shot is taken from the steps to the right of the main church in Oia. As you walk down the little pathway away from the main road, you will see this classic view.


2. This shot is taken in between the town of Fira heading into the direction of Oia. It took us a long time to find this place and we ended up walking too far 😦 To avoid being like us, here are directions for you: Starting from the main bus station in Fira, walk upwards towards the big white church, then walk along the seawall in the direction of the cable cars. If you would like to ask for directions, as locals for the location of the restaurant “Mama Thira” or the hotel “Santorini Palace” The staff inside will show you the way. It is actually located in a very unimpressive parking lot/ yard looking thing. :0 Can’t believe so many photos are taken here.


The busiest time in Oia is in the late afternoon. This is when the sun shines onto the white alleys of the village and everything becomes a warm golden colour.

 

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sunset over the Aegean Sea

 

 

 

If you are lucky, you may have free feline models pose for you, along with the white washed walls of Santorini and the Aegean sea. 😉 The chill and lazy nature of cats really suits this place well ❤

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Chopin in the Park

Every summer from May to September, the Łazienki Park (pronounced something like ‘whyjenki’) offers free piano concerts by the Chopin statue. I was very lucky and caught the last concert of the season before Warsaw gets too cold to sit outside for an hour.

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Chopin statue

This is apparently the biggest Chopin statue until China decided to build another slightly taller Chopin in 2007. But of course, I think this one is the legit one 🙂 It was destroyed in WWII sadly, but the cast for the statue was kept in a warehouse and a reproduction was able to be made.

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Audience gathering

I was amazed at how quiet the audience was for the entire duration of the recital. Even the little ones sat quietly, enjoying the music (Or playing Pokemon Go..). Such good audience etiquette 🙂 Many couples and families brought lawn chairs and picnic. it reminds me of our summer “Symphony by the Lake” with the Vancouver symphony. The performer was a talented musician who was a close runner up to last year’s Chopin competition.

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Other than the Chopin statue, the park is also home to museums,  palaces, red squirrels, and peacocks  🙂

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I can’t wait till the leaves change colour in the park. I’ll pay another visit soon to photograph Warsaw’s autumn colours 🙂

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