Why You Should Visit Wroclaw—The Polish City You’ve Never Heard Of (And Probably Can’t Pronounce)

Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw in the Silesia region of southwestern Poland was a hotbed of 1980s anti-Soviet resistance. It retains a proper rebellious streak. But that melds with a chill vibe befitting an ancient university town (the city has a population of approximately 635,000—135,000 of them students).

The city was, in turns, under Bohemian, Austrian, and Prussian rule. Though it has one eye on its rich history, charm, and beauty (colored Renaissance buildings, cobblestone streets, and gas lamps that at night are lit by hand), the other is focused on a strong avant-garde streak with a vibrant and creative cultural scene thrust into the spotlight this year as a European Capital of Culture. Fabulous exhibitions, installations, and events are going on everywhere.

Spend a weekend basking in Wroclaw’s warm, appealing atmosphere, and witness firsthand why it is becoming known as the mellow but cool cousin of Krakow. One tip before your arrival? Don’t wait to master the pronunciation of the city—that’ll take a big chunk of your time. Instead practice at home: Vrotz-wahv.

OVO

OVO

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OVO

Photo: Courtesy of OVO

Friday Afternoon
Check into the sleek new DoubleTree by Hilton, part of OVO, a retail, residential, and hotel space that is the boldest addition to Wroclaw’s buzzing architectural scene. Designed by Franco-Israeli firm Gottesman-Szmelcman, OVO is a sweeping half block–size modernist complex with a historic post office occupying the second half of the street.

OVO Bar and Restaurant offers a first look at how Polish cuisine’s reputation as stodgy is being swapped for one of food with a lighter touch. Try the wild boar with artichoke puree and molasses gel, dried cabbage and fig jam, or an easy dinner of Polish tapas like linseed oil, marinated herring, black potato, and cheese curd. After dinner, get a feel for Wroclaw’s nightlife. If you’re in the mood for a taste of late-hours bohemia, try the legendary Art Cafe Kalambur. During the day the beautiful original Art Nouveau place is an eatery. At night it morphs into a club with art, theater happenings, and DJs on the weekends. If you feel like something a little mellower, stop in at Kontynuacja, one of the newest of the city’s multi-tap pubs, for a taste of Wroclaw’s growing craft beer culture.

Market Square

Market Square

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Market Square

Photo: Alamy

Saturday
Spend the morning on a meandering self-guided stroll through charm-filled streets—Wroclaw is compact and easily walkable. As is usual in Poland, the city changed hands a number of times, and its magnificent architecture is shaped by that. Much of it was ravaged at the end of WWII, and a long period under Soviet rule didn’t do much to enhance its beauty. But Wroclaw overcame its history, expertly restoring ancient buildings and squares so that only a trained eye might spot the difference between postwar reconstruction and the original.

Start at sprawling, beautiful Market Square, which traces its roots to the 12th century and where building styles span medieval to modernist. Move on to the equally color-saturated Solny Square, which is made even more vibrant by the flower vendors who set up there.

Contrasting with much of the classic Gothic and Baroque buildings is a new generation of modernist spaces, transforming Wroclaw into a hub of contemporary Polish architecture. Check out the University, a mix of grand 300-year-old buildings and groundbreaking new ones. Stop by the old railway embankment, a great place for lunch, if you can find a table at one of the atmospheric local-filled restaurants in the brick vaults under the overpasses lining Boguslawskiego Street.

German architect Max Berg has left his imprint all over Wroclaw, and it’s his Centennial Hall—a UNESCO-protected concert and exhibition space built from 1911 to 1913—that is the most famous. The reinforced concrete domed structure was lauded as one the most radical modernist designs in Europe in its day. Take time to explore the surrounding Szczytnicki Park and the cool multimedia fountain next to Centennial Hall that was built in honor of the 20th anniversary of the first free elections in post-Communist Poland. A show with animated projections on water shooting out of 300 nozzles takes place every hour.

The National Forum of Music, opened last fall, is also a place of astonishing architecture. Inspired in part by a violin’s sound box, its warm brown walls and sleek exterior hint at the modern space within. Architect junkies also need to check out WuWA, an experimental modernist housing area that influenced European home building and urbanization ideas for decades. And don’t miss the Architecture Museum itself, located within a 15th-century former monastery and Benedictine church.

Along your walk, you’ll probably notice a gnome sculpture, then another, then another, until you realize that they are just about everywhere: peeking out of doorways and alleyways and on street corners, in any number of poses and situations. They were inspired by an act of political protest in the 1980s by the anti-Stalinist Orange Alternative underground movement, and these days you can get a map from city hall that leads you on a tour of all 300 of the subversive little statues.

Wroclaw shopping is made for antiques and vintage lovers. That includes lots of shops selling Solidarity-era clothing and trinkets. Look for Antyki or Antykwariat stores, which are spread all over the city with a good concentration in the old town and the streets around Market Square. Antyki Przy Szewskiej sells serious Art Deco, Chippendale, and Biedermeier pieces. Antique diamond earrings, fine porcelain, and glassware might be unearthed at the intimate Salon Sztuki Antyki. Moher Vintage & Design is a huge but curated selection of vintage clothing near Market Square. Lumpex De Lux has an assortment of vintage from big labels like Gucci, as well as lots of fast-fashion brands. The Fu-Ku Concept Store & Foto Studio sells creations by young local designers as well as an assortment of cool kitsch. Poland is known for the graphic design of its old theater and film posters, and Polish Posters (polishposter.com) has a huge selection from the 1940s on.

Make time to squeeze in some art. The MWW, the main museum of contemporary art in Wroclaw, is located in an impressively restored old air-raid shelter, and The Train to Heaven sculpture by Andrzej Jarodzki (depicting an old, real steam locomotive standing upright) stationed outside has become one of the city’s most famous icons. Galeria DNA is a launchpad for the work of emerging Polish and international artists; Galeria Entropia, a cultural institution, presents contemporary and new media art, films, and concerts. Galeria Arttrakt focuses on contemporary and emerging Polish artists, including Ireneusz Walczak and Dawid Czycz.

Options for dinner, if you feel like carrying on in an arty vein, include the sixth-floor restaurant Cafe Muzeum at MWW, accessed via an aboveground bunker that is now an elevator. Or have dinner with a sweeping view of the city at the Food Art Gallery, a refined restaurant–cum–contemporary art gallery with eye-catchingly prepared cuisine that highlights Polish flavors. If you want to check out emerging neighborhood Nadodrze—once home to prewar tenements and now a hive of makers—there’s the great Znasz Ich Cafe Bistro. It’s run by a chef collective, which includes Wroclaw culinary bloggers and cooking aficionados.

View from St. Johns Cathedral

View from St. Johns Cathedral

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View from St. Johns Cathedral

Photo: Alamy

Sunday
Get a taste of Wroclaw’s cosmopolitan nature and student-fueled optimism by spending a relaxing morning on one of the island parks on the River Oder, which are connected to the rest of the city by charming bridges. Join the many young people lolling on green grass in the shadow of grand historic buildings, or park yourself on a bench under the blue sky and an apple tree. The most famous island is Ostrów Tumski, or Cathedral Island—the neighborhood dates back to the 10th century and is dotted with sculptures, gardens, and churches.

Sunday is also flea market day. The market near Mlyn Sulkowice at Boleslawa Krzywoustego, 126 is best for vintage clothes. The biggest market takes place near Centennial Hall the last weekend of every month and is the place to unearth antiques and all manner of vintage finds.

As your weekend comes to an end, wind down with a salt cave treatment—nearby salt caves have been used in health and beauty treatments in the region since the 19th century—at the subterranean spa in the Art Nouveau Hotel Monopol.

Finish the day in a proper food coma with some pierogi (dumplings) and zurek (sour rye soup served in a hollowed-out bread loaf) at Konspira. The brick walls of this beloved restaurant/pub are decorated with political cartoons and police shields that defined the days of the Solidarity movement in the 1980s.

 

The post Why You Should Visit Wroclaw—The Polish City You’ve Never Heard Of (And Probably Can’t Pronounce) appeared first on Vogue.

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Fall’s Most Traffic-Stopping Trend Is Here

pretty woman

These days, the latest trend is a constantly moving target, and you never know when the next big thing will strike. Then again, the same could be said for a chance meeting with an impossibly dapper gent in a (albeit borrowed) Lotus Esprit who just so happens to pull over and ask you for directions. We’re talking about the Pretty Woman effect: The cult classic film has remained a touchstone for fashion inspiration on the runways, but perhaps the most unforgettable turn is the recent focus on the clingy cutout dress, as worn by call girl Vivian Ward (that’d be Julia Roberts) in the opening scenes. Considering that it caught the attention of a 1990s Richard Gere, who could resist a modern-day iteration from the likes of Mugler’s Resort 2017 lineup? Just the latest in a long line of reasons why the wardrobe is nothing short of traffic-stopping.

The trick to moving the look away from its humble Hollywood Boulevard beginnings and into more sophisticated territory is to balance the geometric cutout detailing with an unexpected cover-up element, such as an extended hem, fit-and-flare silhouette, or high neckline. Proenza Schouler’s monochromatic mock neck version can fly in the most high-brow of hotel lobbies, turning heads as Roberts’s character did at the Regent Beverly Wilshire—only for the right reasons, this time. Emilio Pucci’s embellished take will score just as many sartorial points at an afternoon polo match as it will an all-day shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. Here, a look at these and other ways to take the look for a spin of your own, because, to paraphrase Vivian Ward: To deny the new season’s impending mood is to be guilty of a big mistake. (Big. Huge.)

 

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German Wunderkind Alexander Zverev on the U.S. Open and the Future of Tennis

alexander zverev tennis

Perhaps no more than 50 people watched Alexander Zverev clinch his second-round victory at this year’s Wimbledon. It was a misty middle Saturday, and while eventual champion Andy Murray was playing under a roof at Centre Court, rain delays had forced Zverev and his opponent, Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny, to slog through their five-set battle over two days. Court 8 might have had a few more spectators that rainy afternoon if people had only known that this quiet nineteen-year-old is anticipated to be the biggest thing out of Germany (he’s a Hamburger) since Steffi Graf came up, long before Zverev was born.

“This, if you like, is the weakest Zverev we’ll ever see,” Roger Federer said after falling to him earlier this year. “He will only get better from here.” Justin Gimelstob, commentator and tennis-world Zelig, calls him “the most complete young talent we have on the ATP World Tour.” Zverev exhibits precision at the net, is admired for his work ethic and consistency, but can also come up with a 120 mph second serve. What’s more, his game translates to every surface. “He is a lock to be a star,” Gimelstob says.

In person, “Sascha” presents more like a college jock. At a lean six feet six he is unexpectedly graceful, like a giraffe. He has surfer hair (though he prefers wakeboarding) and, when we meet, could probably do with a shave. He more or less always wears three necklaces, one with the symbol of Aries, his zodiac sign, but he won’t reveal any more about them. “Not even he knows,” he says, gesturing toward Patricio Apey, his Chilean agent. (Apey ushered Murray into the big leagues a decade ago and plans to do the same with Zverev.)

Though Zverev has lived part-time in Florida since he was twelve—he is an expert on the Miami Heat—and is officially a resident of Monaco, his Russian parents moved to the Hamburg suburbs shortly after the Wall came down, and, in his words, he feels “more German than anything else.” Zverev also has what people in the sport call a pedigree: His father competed in the Davis Cup for the USSR, and his older brother Mischa is a touring professional currently ranked 146. “I wasn’t old enough to remember picking up my first racket,” Zverev says, “but I remember my brother winning his first title in Halle and knew I wanted to do that too.”

Zverev is not only the youngest player to crack the top 30 since Djokovic did so a decade ago, he is young even within his own generation. “Dominic [Thiem] is now top ten, so he’s leading the group,” Zverev says of the Austrian, who is a friend. “But he’s four years older. Nick [Kyrgios] is two years older than me. That’s a big difference at this age.” Thiem, who won all of his matches against Zverev thus far, also foresees great things: “Maybe it’s going be a nice rivalry.”

 

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8 Reasons Why Lisbon Is Becoming Europe’s New Culinary Capital

Lisbon

Portugal’s cuisine has always been rooted in simple cooking practices that highlight the country’s great ingredients. For decades, dining in Lisbon meant no-fuss dishes served humbly on a plate. But there’s a sea change coming. Perhaps no one has done more for the Portuguese culinary scene than José Avillez, owner of six restaurants in Lisbon. The 36-year-old chef has almost single-handedly reinvented the city’s dining scene by eschewing rustic, traditional cooking in favor of something completely different: dishes that are inventive, playful, and modern. But he is not the only one.

In recent years, the culinary landscape has seen a new wave of young chefs who have, often after stints working at Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe, returned to their native Portugal to open restaurants, head established ones, and earn their own stars. Inspired by exotic flavors and new methods of cooking, these chefs are putting their own unexpected twists on traditional dishes, which they serve on rocks, cork, wood, and coral serving dishes. The experience is multisensory and unforgettable.

Here’s where to eat on your next trip to Lisbon. Go hungry.

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Photo: Courtesy of @joycepascowitch

Belcanto
Set in Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood next to the São Carlos National Theatre, Belcanto was taken over by José Avillez and completely redesigned in 2012 (it was awarded its first Michelin star that same year). The decor is elegant but restrained, while the food is anything but. In one dish he calls “the garden of the goose that laid the golden eggs,” Avillez encases a slow-cooked egg in edible gold leaf. His tasting menus are journeys on a theme, and each dish helps tell a story. In 2014 Belcanto was awarded its second Michelin star, making Avillez the first Portuguese chef to have the honor.

Cantinho do Avillez
Two blocks away is Cantinho do Avillez, another Avillez eatery where the vibe is casual chic. Instead of white tablecloths, the decor features mismatched chairs, vintage lights, and weathered wooden tables. The menu mixes informal Portuguese bites, such as steak sandwiches, with dishes inspired by Portugal and the chef’s travels in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. Try the giant red shrimp from Algarve seasoned with Thai spices.

Lisbon

Lisbon

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Mini Bar

Photo: Courtesy of Mini Bar

Mini Bar
Located in São Luiz Theatre, Mini Bar is Avillez’s first gourmet bar. The ambience celebrates the glitz and glamour of cinema’s early era—think: lots of wood paneling and Art Deco fixtures—and a menu that is anything but ordinary. Order a green apple and spearmint margarita, and what arrives isn’t a cocktail but a perfectly round bite-size concoction. Another standout dish is the Algarve prawn ceviche served on a lime slice.

Alma
Henrique Sá Pessoa presides in the kitchen at Alma, a casual-chic restaurant that recently moved from the Santos to Chiado district. Copper light fixtures, walnut wood tables, and massive wool tapestry add warmth to the stone-arched dining room. Sá Pessoa, who has traveled the world honing his craft and gathering inspiration, cooks from the soul (alma in Portuguese). A national staple like pig is slowly cooked to perfection, served with sweet potato puree and bok choy and drizzled with orange jus. Sá Pessoa’s love of Asian fare is evident in various dishes, including the monkfish, which comes with zucchini flower, green curry, coconut milk, and baby shrimp. Don’t be surprised if the chef stops by to deliver a dish to your table or to say hello.

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Photo: Courtesy of Eleven

Eleven
Set next to Parque Eduardo VII in a bright and modern building with sweeping views of Lisbon, Michelin­-starred Eleven features a Mediterranean menu by chef Joachim Koerper. Originally from Germany, Koerper worked in some of Europe’s most beloved Michelin-starred restaurants, including Guy Savoy and L’Ambroisie in Paris. At Eleven, he continues his love affair with fresh, locally grown ingredients to create dishes that blend texture and flavor in unexpected ways. Order the Atlantic Menu, which includes, among its five courses, a confit of codfish with smoked sweet potato and coconut.

Loco
Alexandre Silva headed a number of trendy restaurants before winning Portugal’s Top Chef and opening Loco in 2015. Located in the city’s laid-back Estrela neighborhood, Loco is Silva’s dream of a restaurant come to fruition. Inside is an open-concept kitchen that is larger than the dining room itself, an olive tree suspended in the foyer to symbolize the evolutionary and organic process (the roots, as it were) in the kitchen, and two tasting menus featuring 14 or 18 “moments” divided into four movements (snack, main course, dessert, petits fours). The experience begins with carasau, a Sardinian thinly sliced and crispy flatbread that hangs above each table. Other standout moments include the chorizo stuffed in a steamed bun and served on a bed of greens inside a small wood box, and the oysters cooked at the table in a bamboo steamer. Dessert might be a green curry and celery mousse. Coffee is brewed in a glass siphon and served at the table, a nod to a tradition of yesteryear.

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Photo: Courtesy of Fortaleza do Guincho

Fortaleza do Guincho
Cascais is a pretty beach town around 30 minutes outside of Lisbon and the setting for Fortaleza do Guincho, a Relais & Châteaux hotel perched on a cliff above crashing waves. In 2015 local chef Miguel Rocha Vieira (of Budapest’s award-winning Costes restaurant) took over and did the unthinkable: He scrapped the French haute cuisine that earned the restaurant a coveted Michelin  star and created four-, five-, and six-course degustation menus that emphasize Portuguese ingredients and flavors. Vieira sources scarlet prawn from the Algarve, amberjack from the Azores, and crab from the waters right outside the restaurant’s windows. Each dish, which can be paired with a local wine, is gorgeously plated.

Feitoria Restaurante & Wine Bar
Altis Belém Hotel & Spa houses Feitoria, where chef João Rodrigues offers three unique tasting menus—Land, Tradition, and
Journey—that incorporate ingredients plucked from the ocean (sea bass, scarlet shrimp, turbot) and sourced from nearby farms and artisanal producers (goat’s milk, pigeon, Iberian pork, black figs). Exotic elements, like a fermented dairy beverage called amasai, add to the tomato, plum, and avocado dish an unexpected twist while still preserving the essence of traditional flavors.

 

 

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I’m an Adult Woman, and I Call My Mother Three Times a Day

Speak to mother

It’s been a fact of my life for as long as I can remember, but writing it down strikes even me as crazy: I’m an adult woman who speaks to my mother on the phone at least thrice daily. The first call of the day, placed either by me or my mom, comes before 8:00 a.m. and clocks in under 30 seconds. It typically goes something like, “Turn on the Today show. Savannah’s pregnant, bye!” (me), or, “There’s a man slashing people in Riverside Park; don’t take Hayden there!” (my mom, looking out for my daughter’s—never mind my—safety). We never say “hello”—that’s a formality reserved only for when we’re pissed at each other.

A mere two hours later, I tend to log call two, using my mom for someone to talk to on my walk home from an exercise class. “It’s me,” I’ll trumpet into my mom’s ear, totally disregarding the fact that I’m bothering her at work. Then, I’ll regale her with mundane tales absolutely no one else in the world but she would care about: the latest developments in potty training; who I’m currently hating on Facebook. Call three might come down around lunchtime, when she has five minutes to kill and wants to provide a blotter of her recent Target purchases. For good measure, my daughter and I also FaceTime her around dinnertime.

A rational person might assume my mom lives in California and we talk incessantly by phone because we miss each other terribly and don’t have the luxury of hanging out in real life. But there is no room for reason in this highly emotional equation: In fact, she lives an hour away on Long Island, and we see each other almost every week, because she watches my daughter on Fridays (my mom is to us as Marian Robinson is to the Obamas). Still, we continue to have a lot, or a whole lot of nothing, to say to each other on a daily basis.

Based on an unscientific Facebook poll, plenty of other grown women feel similarly about their moms. When I asked in a status this week if anyone else spoke to their mother at least once a day, more than 30 women, and a few men, ranging from their 20s to their 40s, flooded me with replies—more than pretty much any other story callout I can remember. “More like 5,000 times a day,” one quipped. More than one said they called their mom every morning on their commute—and sometimes on the way home, too. Another chimed in to say she talks to her mom so frequently, “my siblings call me ‘mommy’s stalker.’ ” That one hit home: Though mothers get a bad rap for calling their kids too much, in our case, I’m the perp: I call my mom so often that when she doesn’t answer, or call back within two hours, I presume her dead. It’s gotten to the point where she issues an advance warning if she, God forbid, plans to be unavailable for a few hours. “I’m going to dinner with Lucille,” she’ll text (yes, we also text, but talking is more fun). “I’m not dead—yet!”

Why do we do it? (I say “we” because it makes me feel less like a demented woman-child to lump myself in with the group.) The modern hook is that no one really talks on the phone anymore, but moms are still all in for it. I have friends who I consider sisters, and we text all day long, but our lives are busy and we’re more likely to schedule a phone date than chat four times a day in two-minute intervals. Moms, on the other hand, don’t really care if you call them from the Sweetgreen line and abruptly say “gottagobye!” and hang up when it’s time to order.

Unlike friends, moms are more open to venting, bragging, and utterly boring calls, too. As my friend Courtney Byrd Metz, who speaks to her mother, Carla, multiple times daily, said, “She’s the only person who’s truly interested in the most insignificant minutiae of my life,” from potential Gilt purchases to parenting advice and irrelevant Facebook nuggets like “the fact that some girl from my grade school who I haven’t thought about since ’92 had a baby.” Courtney’s husband “doesn’t care about that shit, nor should he,” she added. “But Carla does, and that’s why I love her.”

Of course, our endless mother-daughter hotlines aren’t purely motivated by self-interest, and we don’t see our moms just as glorified versions of Siri (although, frankly, that’s part of it). The timeless truth is that I constantly call my mom because she’s my best friend, and because, even though I’m a mom myself, I still need her, possibly more than ever. (My mom is like the lovechild of Oprah and Caroline Manzo from The Real Housewives of New Jersey—fiercely loving, wise, blunt . . . and willing to cut anyone who crosses her family.) Courtney said it best when she said of Carla: “She’s the truest sounding board I could hope for.”

Adult women can seem more acutely aware than their 16-year-old selves that having a mom to talk to—and mercilessly stalk—every day is a gift. “My mom once told me, ‘Do you know how lucky you are that you get to hear your mother’s voice? What I would give to just call my mom one more time to talk to her,’ ” recalled Kim Shea Colongione, another friend who talks to her mother daily. Verklempt, I called my mom for a fifth time to share this anecdote. She agreed that she’d give anything to talk to her late mom one more time; I hadn’t necessarily realized it, but she talked to her mom every day, too. “Mothers still like to feel like their children are children, even if they have children,” she said. And, “moms like to feel like one of the girls,” she added. “We never really grow up, either.” Don’t I know it.

 

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