29 May 2023

There’s No Place Like Gnome

By admin

For the past couple of years the Hospital where I am employed has been working towards the implementation of a new Patient Administration System, just about the largest IT project a Trust can undertake. As an employee within the IT Department this obviously meant a lot of work and stress, and an understanding that the possibility of taking time off around Go-Live was out of the question. And so it was in the October, and the January and March. By the time the definitive date of May was announced the whole team were pretty frazzled. I was desperate for a few days away from the office, and with my aspect of the project long since ready to go I was able to negotiate a long weekend. But where to go?

After much changing of my mind I finally settled on a few days in Poland, more precisely Wrocław. No real reason other than there were some cheap direct flights and the prospect of cheaper beer in a new city. The ever excellent ontap.pl app, alongside Untappd, suggested I wouldn’t be short of bars to visit. As is usual I will cover the bars in a second, separate, post.

After an uneventful journey things very nearly went horribly wrong. I took a taxi from the airport to the main railway station, which was conveniently opposite my hotel. As I was crossing the busy road to the hotel I realised with horror that I no longer had my phone! A mad dash back to the taxi rank saw me reach my driver just as he was pulling away, after a bit of wild gesticulating I was able to open the back door where my phone was still on the seat. And breathe.

I checked in and whilst enjoying my first beer of the trip in the hotel bar I noticed they had a range of bottles from a local brewery I wasn’t previously aware of. A quick Google showed that they were open and so within in an hour I was in an anonymous industrial estate on the outskirts of the city. The brewery, Odra Barrels, was indeed open but it was just that, a brewery. There was no tap room but I was able to talk to the brewer and managed to buy a couple of bottles to enjoy later.

I headed back in to the city to start my bar visits with the priority today being brewpubs and brewery taps. As I walked the streets I came across a bronze sculpture of a dwarf that I thought was quite cute. Unbeknownst to me is that there are over 600 of them throughout the city, and it is impossible to wander far without finding one.

The rest of the day was spent visiting bars, which will be covered in detail in the next post, but one thing I will mention here is the shock I had in Minibrowar Spiż. I’m fairly sure that this is the oldest brewpub in the city, certainly it gives the impression of age and tradition with lots of dark wood panelling. The surprise came when I read the beer menu and found that they did a men’s tasting stick, lagers and stronger beers, and a women’s tasting stick, fruit beers and honey beers. Suffice to say that I got a slightly odd look when I ordered one of each and took them back to my table to enjoy on my own!

I made a leisurely start on the Saturday before embarking on a day of wandering aimlessly around the city looking at the sights and stopping off for regular bar visits. The weather was excellent and the city is compact so it was easy to find yourself passing familiar spots time and time again, and yet on every circuit more and more of the dwarves seemed to reveal themselves.

Sunday saw an even more leisurely start to my last day here. My flight home wasn’t until late which meant I had a full day to fill. Unfortunately I remembered that once I got back I still had to drive home from the airport meaning I had to be careful with my intake. I opted for just a couple of bars and stopped drinking at lunchtime so that I wouldn’t have any problems. The downside of this was that, as mentioned, it is a very small city with limited options on a Sunday. Thankfully the weather was even nicer so I was able to pass a lot of the time just sitting around enjoying the sun.

All that remained was a straightforward flight home, which was OK until I arrived in the early hours to be confronted by immigration chaos that took over an hour to navigate. Welcome home!