Having not travelled solo for almost a year, I had almost forgotten the feeling of spending an evening with complete strangers that feel like old pals. Chatting about each others lives, places we’ve been and comparing cultures. It is truly remarkable and this is what Wroclaw will always signify for me.
I only spent 3 days in this lovely city and they began, ended and were filled with new friends and crazy conversations. Until this trip, I think I never fully let go when I was away. This trip was made ever better through a mixture of initial low expectations, a relaxed demeanour on my part, a group of fabulous people and £1 wine.
When I first arrived in Wroclaw, a young colourful Polish city, I just wanted to chill in my new hostel. Problem was, I walked into my 8-bed dorm to find 4 beds occupied with sleeping people (at 4 in the afternoon) and one of those was a couple. The room was stuffy, smelt of old socks and there was no plug at my bed. First world problems, I know, but still didn’t make me feel great about my impending stay in Wroclaw. I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen, chilling with the wifi and free tea, and then headed out for a delicious dinner with my New Year’s pals. It actually was a lovely evening.
The next morning, I headed to the free breakfast (bread) early to make the most of it. Turns out I can eat a lot of bread when it’s free. Over the 2 hours of breakfast (I did say I made the most of it) I made a few friends who were doing the same as me. The silliest thing is that I didn’t even try to make friends. Normally I am the person to strike up conversations, but on this morning, I didn’t. I just wanted to sit with my tea and toast. But travelling happened. I became surrounded by new friends, fun conversations and laughter.
Before I knew it we were 7 people wandering around Wroclaw, enjoying the fresh sights and each others company. This city surprised me and made me feel relaxed and at home very quickly. Being a student city, it felt buzzing and liveable, which I always enjoy when visiting a new place. We got some lunch at a cheap self-service restaurant which was very delicious. I always enjoy having a plate of completely random food for no reason at all.
I then headed off, away from my new acquaintances, to meet my New Year’s buddies for a walking tour of the city. I always bang on about free walking tours, so I won’t here, but it was fab. Learning about the history and local customs really does change how you see a place, and Wroclaw was no exception. Although, we were walking around for 2 and a half hours in almost freezing temperatures, whilst it snowed, so we were all frozen. Luckily, we popped into the market hall to defrost and I found a lovely little tea shop and managed to get my precious breakfast tea. Perfect.
I headed straight back to the hostel after the tour to get warm and (to be honest) charge my phone. The lack of plugs at my bedside was starting to bug me. What I actually did was sit listening to someone play guitar (very gap-yah), whilst playing monopoly and drinking vodka and apple juice with my hostel friends from the morning. After a couple of hours we ventured out to a restaurant down the road. We ordered far too much food, and laughed our way through the delicious dinner.
The evening didn’t stop there and we headed across the road to a little bar for yet more drinks and a few bowls of chips. The wine was blissfully cheap (I could get 5 glasses for the price of 1 in Edinburgh) and we had the best time. Around that tiny table in a local bar in Worclaw was a mix of German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Filipino, New Zealand, Dutch and British. We all got along so well and sat around until after 1am. I had such a great time and I felt so relaxed and happy with these relative strangers.
I never used to go out drinking or partying when I was travelling. I think I didn’t think it was worth it. I have chilled out SO much in recent years and it was honestly one of the nicest evenings I’ve had in a long time. I want to chat about this in a separate letter.
I went to sleep happy (but feeling worse for wear as my cold had struck) and woke up to have breakfast with the group before saying goodbye to everyone. Alas, this is how it goes when you travel. Granted, I was only away for 10 days, a short time compared to my typical trips, but I know the feeling so well. Saying goodbye and promising to keep in touch. However, I am so lucky in that I have kept in touch with so many people I’ve travelled with and even met up with people years down the line. Travel friends are such unique relationships and are integral to your experience.
As I’ve rambled on for over 800 words already, I’m going to continue my Worclaw stories in another letter. This letter was barely about Wroclaw, but instead, a tribute to all my past, present and future travel friends who all hold a very special place in my memories.
Happy travels to all,