Ok, I’m finally getting there with posting a bit about my trip to Poland!
First of all, I always thought that Wrocław was pronounced ‘Vroc-lav’. But actually, Wrocław is pronounced ‘Vrots-waf’. That 5th letter that we normally represent as an ‘l’ is actually ‘ł’, which has a ‘w’ sound. This took me a little while to get used to!
I had wanted to go to eastern Europe as I love it there and it is cheaper than western Europe. Wrocław was on my shortlist of places to go as I had never been to Poland before (I love to go to new places) and I had read it described as a beautiful city that is overlooked tourism-wise compared to Krakov, which can get exceptionally busy. This appealed to me, and it helped that I managed to find flights for £40 with budget airline Wizz Air. Another deciding factor was a bit of a frivolous novelty to be honest, in that one of Wrocław’s most popular and iconic attractions is not a historic building or a fine art museum, but instead it is a race of little people: krasnale to the local people, gnomes to you and me :)
I had read that these were dotted about the place and that gnome spotting was a much-loved tourist past time, but I hadn’t realised quite how many there were! They do keep getting new additions, and I read estimates that they number from 150 to 250 gnomes around the city! Of course I didn’t manage to see all of them, but I did dedicate my first full day there to the sport of gnome spotting, with incidental sightseeing and coffees along the way :)
Now then, I did describe these little fellas as a frivolous novelty, but while the contemporary gnomes are rather fun and are often sponsored by a business such as a café or hotel, they do have more gravity to their history than that.
The first gnome of Wrocław was Papa Krasnal, who arrived in 2001 near a subway where Orange Alternative demonstrations often took place – and which also happened to be right outside the hostel I was staying at! The Orange Alternative was an underground protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests against the Communist Regime at the time. You can read more about the Orange Alternative here – or do a Google search for more info if you’re interested :)
Today’s proliferation of Wrocław gnomes came about when first of all 5 more gnomes were commissioned by the City Council, which then became so popular that local businesses got in on the action, using gnomes to attract custom. And the spread has continued!
Now gnomes have jobs as Firemen or Pharmacists, or loll about in doorways, eating icecream or getting drunk! There are gambling gnomes and travelling gnomes, gnomes riding bikes and gnomes riding pigeons! I found it great fun to around spotting them, and although I didn’t manage to find all of the ones I wanted to I still have enough photos of them with which to thoroughly bore you, I’m sure!
So here we go, lots of gnome pictures! I'll check back at some point to add some detail to make it more interesting, but sadly I don't have time right now! Sorry!
If you've made it all the way here then you deserve a nice cuppa ;)