More up than around

The final day in Wroclaw took a different turn.

There were slightly less than there had been and we started the day off walking slowly through an at gallery looking at notebooks of photos about Poland and then going along the walls on which had been pinned more photos. Each photo was by a different artist and the pictures were arranged so as to try and provide some juxtaposition through each the images. It worked very well and there was much sketching in notebooks.

After the art gallery we headed to a church. The intention was to just look inside but once in the vestibule crowded with things to buy we were drawn inexorably towards the signs for a bridge. I had seen the bridge a day or so before but didn’t give it too much thought as I handed over my money to a man in the corner who pointed us in the direction of more signs that pointed us up.

These signs took us to a set of concrete stairs that led up three or four stories through the interior one of the church’s towers. So far so good. But then the concrete stairs stopped and it became apparent that the only other stairs up were rickety and made of an iron mesh which provided an imperfect view down from where we had just come.

Teeth were gritted and I continued on up glad for the bannister that gave something to hold onto. The iron mesh steps carried on for another four or five, maybe more stories, doubling back on themselves to taking us ever further up the tower that until we came to a door that led out to the bridge.

The bridge was a thin structure that led from one of the church’s towers to the other. It was about twenty foot long and some one hundred and fifty foot up from the ground.

It gave views over the city included a view of the other great church tower in Wroclaw that was almost twice the height. There was talk of a walk up that but, giving thought of the walk back down, I muttered about planes and lack of time.

Later, and with the benefit of the guidebook, I worked out that we had walked up to the top of one of the two towers of the Saint Mary Magdalene Church. The bridge was The Penitent Bridge, connected one tower to the other.

The other tower was covered in scaffolding and mesh to the top. As we stood to admire the view a man walk out onto the scaffolding a few feet from where we were standing with the drop in-between. He looked at us and waved and then leaned out his hands on one of the scaffolding poles enjoying the worried looks on our faces.

Apparently on the bridge you can see the souls of young women who preferred to have fun and gaieties with men rather than look after their children and do house duties. As punishment, they had to walk the narrow gangway between the towers.

There was punishment enough in the walk down. I realised that the walk up had been okay because my eyes were always up and ahead. On the way down my eyes were down and looking at where my feet should go on to the next step which took them to the view through the iron mesh and the long way down underneath. It took a sheer effort to lift the eyes up from around my feet and to convince myself that at the end of the day I knew how to walk down stairs without looking and these ones were not about to collapse around me.

Even so a large part of the walk down felt like that moment a planes lands and there is a bump on the runway and there is an involuntary tightening of the hand on the armrest. On a plane that lasts the second or two before you know it is all in control. The walk down the tower took a bit longer.

Back on the ground we found time to walk through the church before finding ourselves another bar. This one was in the courtyard of the city’s old prison. It was warm enough to sit outside in the shade and talk about nothing and drink our beer.

We then went on to lunch and were able to squeeze round a table looking out over the square. There had been a temptation to go back to the beer hall from the night before. They had tables out in the square as well but it seemed clear that whilst food might be an option, it would be frowned upon, in a place where the main business was beer.

And so we whiled away our last couple of ours in Wroclaw. Eating outside in the sun drinking good beer and wondering when there might be a chance to to it again.

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