In November last year, as a last-minute anniversary trip, K and I went to Wroclaw, Poland over the weekend. Fortunately or unfortunately though, the weekend was the weekend of All Saints Day, an important holiday in Poland. We were completely unaware of our choice of dates until we landed there and woke up to a dead silent Saturday morning, despite being in the middle of the busiest square in town.
To be honest, I can’t quite recollect where I first came across the name Mleczarnia as a local bar to visit. As we looked at things to do and places to be, it appeared somewhere and I suppose we put it on our route of things to do if it was open.
Before I go on, I should mention that after being so inspired by Mleczarnia, I came back home to look it up on the interwebs and realised just how much acclaim it had already received. It was little surprise that even the New York Times had written about it. But popular hype unbeknown to me, with fresh eyes, no expectations and absolute unbiased fascination from the first instant, Mleczarnia captured my imagination and froze time for me as soon as I stepped in. I've been wanting to write about since the trip and so, here is my account of it.
We arrived at Mleczarnia only to be faced with closed doors and folded menu boards, but we lingered, hoping we were mistaken (I was hungry and impatient for breakfast as usual). I was relieved when candles glowing dully became slowly visible like little glow worms through the mist-coated window. As the image got clearer, the dark sepia interiors revealed small bunches of vibrant flowers on classical vintage tables.
As we stepped in, it felt like the most natural place to be on this cold, somber morning. Dimly candle-lit, cozy, and yet worlds away, as if to unabashedly invent and declare a most magical way to embrace the not-so-magical dark winter months, and so effortlessly. As we sat at the table, it seemed like night at day, or some other kind of time, I am not sure. Something about having breakfast by candlelight had me scintillated, I felt like I fell into a Charles Dickens novel, maybe a Polish version of it.
Beside us, right in the center of the bar was a very tall, very large hand water pump. It seemed as though the bar was built around it. And the floor below our feet was uneven, cobblestonish, as if the street flowed into the bar...or the bar into the street.
A magical bohemian bar. I know, magical and bar don't quite go together, but that's what this place was. Beautifully-aged collection of furniture, absolutely belonging together through their dents, scratches and faded upholstery despite coming from different families. Every spot was so very different, so very beautifully decorated, but so lived-in and felt just familiar. I've visited a number of Bohemian cafes, but every one of even the most lovely ones showed signs of careful design and being put-together. There was a certain calm to Mleczarnia, every piece belonged there, the pickle jars by the window, the shabby day-old flowers on the tables, the doilees here and there, the portraits and then the bar counter itself with signs of modernity.
We went back again the next day for breakfast. The sun shone a little brighter, the sepias a little lighter this time. I felt the same calm. We had another leisurely breakfast, sketching together in between plates.
I could spend hours here, days even; pretending to be the brooding writer that this place dreams up. We did little that weekend, but what a perfect, relaxed reverie it turned out to be.