Wroclaw and the Milk Bar

Let me start by clarifying the pronunciation of Wroclaw. This isn’t because I care especially about how you say it but because I struggled to pronounce it for a long time leading to much confusion when I tried to buy a train ticket. Do not say “row claw”, its more like “vrotz-wav”. /EndPSA

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I’ve mentioned a few times before that Poland is extremely inexpensive and I’ll say it again. Its one of the least expensive places I’ve ever been in my life and definitely the cheapest European country I’ve visited. My hostels cost on average around €15 for a private room with shared bath (less than half of what it would cost in even moderately priced cities). Every meal we ate was beautiful, tasty and clocked in at under €5 even at nicer cafes.

See also: Bar Mleczny (Milk Bar). These aptly named bars originated serving mostly milk based meals (don’t ask me for an example) and not, as I imagined, as pubs supplying your daily frosty pint o’ 2%. Though they date back to the 1800s, the Milk Bar scene really popped off during Poland’s Communist Era when workers who weren’t provided lunch by their employers could get a super cheap full course meal. Subsidized by the government, these bars were able to serve fast, homemade meals to Polish citizens even when the country was hopelessly poor. Today, some Milk Bars still stand (many went bankrupt, no surprise) and are popular with older folks and students seeking a generous serving of decent food for under €3. When you go, its unlikely that anyone working there will speak English so you’ll be left to point at what you want, school cafeteria style, and forget about asking any questions (“Do you guys have almond milk?”).

Besides the cheap food, Wroclaw has a cute and compact city center, the Rynek, with the usual things you’d expect from an old revitalized center (so, an H&M and a McDonalds alongside beautifully restored architecture). The brightly colored buildings are fun to stare at though, while you drink your beer with juice in it.

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4 responses to “Wroclaw and the Milk Bar

  1. Wow, that really is beautiful!! Did it survive WWII that way, or has it been restored?
    As a tourist, what is the draw in the area? Some natural beauty, or museums, or …?

    • It actually didn’t survive the war very well at all. From what I read the city was largely destroyed so everything has been remodeled and restored. As a tourist, its just a beautiful city to walk around and there are many museums. One of the most famous sites is the Panorama Racławicka, a large 360 degree painting depicting a miliary victory against the Russians in 1794.

  2. How great you’ve visited my city and it’s nice to here you like it :) it’s actually Bar Mleczny (from mleko-milk) and it’s not the museum you should experience, it’s the atmosphere of friendly, busy, multicultural city where things happen every day (like scoring agan world guiness record in playing Hey Joe on more than 7000 guitars at the same time! and lots of concerts and cultural activities). Whenever you plan to visit Wroclaw again let me know, I will show you around!

    • Thanks for catching that typo! I agree the atmosphere is reason enough to visit. Usually when I go places I tend to skip the museums and just wander around. Hopefully I will get to return to Wroclaw someday!

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