I set my alarm for 5 o’clock but somehow managed to sleep through three 10 minute snooze intervals. Luckily, one of the girls knocked on my door at 5:30. I have no idea how they managed to wake up so early despite going to bed late. I’ve come to the conclusion that they did not sleep. Anyway, after a quick shower (practically wet my hair and stomach), I was all ready to go.
A Monster Road-trip
After an hour and half drive, we made a pit-stop for breakfast at a roadside service station. Cue the mayhem. The café clearly hadn’t prepared for an early morning invasion of hungry foreigners with a love for tea. You would assume that when you ordered a cup of tea, you will be presented with your hot water, tea, sugar and milk. Here, we literally had to queue for each ingredient. I’m told the Polish tend not to drink their tea with milk, so perhaps that explains the confusion. Still, the bacon scrambled egg was absolute delicious – for a roadside service station breakfast. We all had our breakfast and the customary fag break. Before you knew it, we were back on the road.
Despite being sleep deprived, I still struggled to sleep in the car and there is not much to look at outside for long periods of the drive. Only the music on my phone was keeping me sane. After what seemed like forever, we’d finally reach Wroclaw – except we were not going to Wroclaw, but to Zabkowice: a town 30 minutes away from Wroclaw. So, we drive on, past the Euro 2012 stadium and towards our new destination.
We’re meant to be in a meeting to witness a deal being signed between Barka and the local council. However, our batch arrived a tad late and the meeting had already started so we were given an official tour around Zabkowice to see some of the landmarks. The most impressive of which was the leaning tower of Zabkowice; apparently the only other leaning tower in the world. The lean on the building is said to have been caused by plate tectonic shift or as we all jokingly claimed: “probably Irish builders”.
The views from the summit were fantastic; a 360 degree view of the town. Next to the tower was the actual Dr Frankenstein’s building. Zabkowice is the town where the Frankenstein story is said to have originated from. The story is that Mary Shelly visited Zabkowice and the visit inspired her to write her now world-famous story.
This though doesn’t stop me from having a snoop around the house though. There are a few creepy and random things in the house: antique cameras, TVs and a well. Yes, a well in the middle of the house! The story behind it was that it was an escape-route which the owner of the house would often sneak out to go steal from merchants. Yet even is his thieving ways, he still remembered to pay his tithes from his spoils. I may have totally misheard the story here but never let the truth get in the way of a half-decent anecdote.
Dinner with Monks
On our way back, half of the group decided to go do some shopping whilst the rest of us made a stop at an organic ice cream joint. The ice cream proved a good desert-starter as we were about to drive to a Henrykow for lunch. 10 minutes later and we had arrived at the monastery where we will be lunching. The place looks very pristine as you would expect from a monastery. It also held historical and cultural importance as the first polish sentence was written here.
The lunch took place in the great big hall and we’re being served like dignitaries –as there were some actual dignitaries (Mayors, Councillors etc.) sat at the table too. The food was lovely too. Normally I will scoff at the sight of soup in a cup but here, I was slurping away without hesitance. As it turned out, I’ve had lots of good food today.
The downside of pigging out is that I was now even more tired. Not the ideal preparation for the much-anticipated history of the monastery presentation which was following immediately after lunch. There was only going to be one outcome: I nodded throughout the presentation, and I was sat on the front row!
After my unfortunate power doze, I was feeling ever so sprightly. I was ready for full guided tour of the monastery. We are all left stunned as we enter the “inner chambers” on the church. Not by the overpowering sense on incense but by level of detail which has gone into the interior decorations, symbols and statues. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures as the flash of the camera apparently caused the decor to crack – or something of the sort.
At the end of the tour, we met up with the dignitaries back at the reception. There, we shared our experiences of Poland and had an informal chats on the work Barka was doing. In the end, the whole thing got a little too emotional for one of the Barka leaders, who couldn’t fight the tears.
At last the day was over. All that was left was the 30 minute drive back to Wroclaw. On arrival, we are led to some sort of student hostel where we will be staying the night. It is no Lech Hotel mind you. Besides, the WiFi is possibly the slowest internet connection I’ve ever come across since I crossed paths with an MTN 3G dongle back in Ghana. On the hand, I had 3 beds in my room and a balcony with lovely views of the court.
Let’s call it a good day.
The wise decision now would have been to go straight to bed and call it a night. But how could that be possible when I’m in a new city with new places to explore. O well, if you insist that I come out for the night.