For hours and hours I was just walking, eyes looking at all the walls. The ground. The old people with their funny hats and long coats. It was so close to home, but yet so far away. The flight took only an hour but yet it was like a trip in time. Backwards. But still everything from today was there. The old was in the atmosphere. In the walls.
In the part of town just north of Rynek – the market square – many walls still carry the proof of war: bullet holes. You won’t find that in my hometown. There were walls from which the outer layer partly has fallen off, revealing the naked brick underneath. Balconies made of weathered stone carried up by gantries of wood. A man selling vegetables from his minivan.
It would be easy to describe Wroclaw as a city with a lot of poverty. But it would be wrong. Wroclaw has among the best range of culture there is. The museums are good, the opera is the 16th best in the world, the streets are pretty clean and there are restaurants with food better than I have ever tasted. The people live their lives as anywhere in western Europe. But, as my host said last Friday “people always talk about the first world and the third world, but they never mention the second world. It’s us, I know it. We are not first and we are not the third. No one would ever Tell us that we are a second world country. But we are.”
If I find a job, this is where you will find me.