Sometimes, a holiday needs to be just that— a holiday— and so I spent my five days off around Easter back in Poland, re-visiting my favorite vegetarian restaurants, photographing the city’s dwarfs, and getting some writing and reflection done in coffee shops.
Ok, I’ll admit: sometimes I feel like exploring a whole new city. Others, I feel like seeing some new sights— but in a place I am not going to get lost in. Which is why I returned to Wrocław. I can navigate the city a bit, so it’s a little familiar— yet there’s still more to see.
Also: I have been realizing I need to get my graduation papers in order. A final paper to write, making sure all my transfer credits have been approved— the usual paperwork. Unfortunately, it has to be done from overseas, making me a little nervous about getting it done on time. I needed distractions.
So I returned to Vega, a great vegetarian place off the main square, Rynek. It has photos of the food up next to the menu (yay!) and I know what gluten-free is in Polish, which made ordering dessert very easy.
After last time, and I discovered that there are little dwarf statues placed throughout the city, I decided I needed to see if there were female dwarfs. Which turned into a bit of an adventure. But proper dwarfs hide, yes? Like fairies or elves, they shouldn’t be easy to find.
The first dwarf was easy to spot: at the main train station, greeting all the visitors. The next ones, though, were trickier: one was in a grocery store— and I went when they were closed. And the next lady dwarf was inside a hospital… in the kids’ ward, and they wouldn’t let me in unless I knew a patient there. (And as a friend pointed out, all the female dwarfs are indoors. Not sure what to make about that.)
Luckily, there were plenty of male dwarfs hanging around.
You know what’s awesome when you don’t speak the language? Buffets, that’s what. All the food is laid out, so you can see what you’re getting, and there’s no menu to fuss with. And there’s a particular chain of buffet restaurants that I’ve become fond of, as they always have a pile of veggie options.
Also this time, I tried a different approach to finding vegetarian food, one I’ve used quite often in the U.S.: go to ethnic restaurants. Thai, Vietnamese and even Mexican can be good places to find veggie options— which is how I wound up at a Greek restaurant off of Rynek. And those stuffed grape leaves were excellent: tasty rice filling, grape leaves soft enough to nibble easily but not too soft to fall apart. (And yes, that may be a glass of sambuca behind the salad.)
This also worked with Mexican food, in a way. While the tacos I found were tasty (as they are, when you have been craving them…) I’m having my doubts about Mexican food in Europe. I’ve had it very good, between Mexicantown in southwest Detroit and my years living in New Mexico, when it comes to Mexican food. However, between this joint and Mexita, a place in Hradec Králové, I am slowly realizing that I’ve been spoiled with Mexican food. The food is good— but missing that certain something. Fresh avocado in the guacamole, not enough spice in the salsa, and all the tortilla chips I’ve had here have been oddly sweet.
A final food discovery, one that reminds me of home— of Hamtramck: vegetarian pâté. When I saw it in the Polish Market on Jos Campau, I figured it must be something for the hipsters, then bought it and ate it anyway.
No, it’s real: several varieties were sold at a local grocery store. And just as tasty as I remembered.
Too soon, back on the train home, and to deal with wrapping up my teaching and making sure all paperwork is in order for graduation.