The renaissance pearl that is the Old Town remains as striking and fresh as the day it was finished: a place of colonnaded passageways and shaded, leafy courtyards, it all leads to a mesmerizing square that stops you in your tracks.
Generously filled with dramatic archways, lavish churches, semi-secret corners and revamped tenements, it’s enough to just wander without aim and let the hours slip away.
This was where angels feared to tread. But changes have been meteoric. If Praga was once a byword for abandonment and decay, today it has become a calling card for the very concept of urban regeneration.
Inside a bar thick with smoke, babble, and antique booby traps, I lost myself in the cacophonous atmosphere, gazing helplessly at a barmaid in a tight tiger print top. I’d fallen in love: with her, with Kazimierz, with Kraków and with Poland.
Attracting a specific clientele defined not by their wealth or success, but rather their attitude to life, it is a place of openness, creativity and boundless good times.
Finding Wrocław listed on TripAdvisor as an Emerging Destinations, Webber says the inclusion of one of his favourite city’s in Poland is ludicrous. “Under-the-radar? Only if you’ve spent the last two decades in a Kentucky jail,” he scoffs.
True, the Kardashians would struggle to adapt, but says TFN’s Alex Webber, this “village within a village” is exactly the place to go to enjoy the wilds of Poland in their rawest form.
The energy that initially seduced me is still there, and if anything has grown all the stronger. Manifesting itself in a raft of top eateries and alternative hangouts, these have been ably complimented by a slew of modern attractions that range from the compelling Emigration Museum to a funicular cable car with vertiginous views of all that’s around.
From a personal point of view, it’s sheer depth of contrast comes somewhere near the top: lavish wedding cake palaces that reference the might once wielded by the city’s power players; futuristic office compounds; blackened, broken tenements; abandoned, creepy warehouses; restored redbrick factories; and PRL blocks of cosmic dimension.
From polar bear trails to revamped castles, Webber presents his top travel finds of 2020.