We’ve recently spent a long weekend in Wrocław, Poland. It’s an amazing place, and here are some first impressions. The murals reminded me of Buenos Aires.
Back in October, we went to visit one of the top-ten zoos in Austria. It’s called Game park Ernstbrunn, and it’s easily reached by car from Vienna, Bratislava or Breclav (http://www.wildpark-ernstbrunn.at/de/).
Why is it great? Lots and lots of space for the animals. They live in areas which really closely resemble their natural habitat. And you won’t find any exotic (from a European angle) stuff there. Enjoy what woods and mountains in mid-Europe used to offer to the wanderer …
However, there’s even more. It’s very family friendly, so if you rather don’t want to share your deer-experience with a horde of toddlers, don’t go at a weekend. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash.
And then, there are the wolves. The park is home to the Wolf Science Centre (http://www.wolfscience.at/en/), and it’s actually possible to have a very close encounter with those fascinating creatures. Details about times & prices are on their website. This is one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to.
The tiny town of Spišské Podhradie is home to some awesome attractions and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. First of all, there is Spišská Kapitula, or Spiš Chapter House. It is really like a town within a town.
I did a tour of the cathedral. The different styles of altars were all fascinating, tacky at times, beautifully crafted and not allowed to be photographed.
From the hill with the Chapter House on one has several hiking options and some lovely views. One such view is of the other main attraction of the village, Spiš Castle.
To get to the village, you can take one of the many busses going there. I arrived early in the morning to beat the crowds, which turned out to be a rather good idea. In fact, when I got there, it was still foggy, the dew hanging in the cobwebs and I was the only one hiking up to the castle.
Once I had reached the top, the weather played along nicely and the fog lifted. The castle is one of the largest in Europe.
I was there just after they had opened, and it filled up quite quickly. Yes, the place is huge, but there’s a small museum inside which soon became overcrowded. Actors in period costumes put on plays, and craftspeople sold lovely looking merchandise. I was quite fond of pottery items, but for fear of breaking them while walking around I didn’t buy any. Rather, I managed to escape the throngs and enjoyed the quieter parts of the castle.
The castle is divided in a lower and an upper part. Architecturally, the upper one is probably the more exciting. There is just more to see and explore. One has to beware of dangerous animals though.
The lower part is basically an open space surrounded by an enormous wall. It’s open grassland, and signs point out that there can be a number of birds and other animals. I only saw the spermophiles, but plenty of them. All in all, I spent about three hours on the castle grounds, and two or so in the Chapter House. Podhradie is only about 20km from Levoca, so it makes for a nice day trip from there.
A young specimen of Prunella modularis exploring a garden in Pitlochry, Scotland. The name roughly translates as ‘small brown singer’.