If there’s one thing that we’ve learned as long term travelers, it’s that you can’t be a tourist all the time. Day after day of cathedrals, temples, museums, and monuments can lead to burnout.
But, tourist overload can be easily avoided with a bit of time off the routine. And our Wroclaw Gnome safari provided just the fun and relaxing break we needed.
After a long day in transit, we stumbled on the first gnomes on an early evening walk. We’d read about the gnomes, but really had no idea how carefully sculpted and cleverly located they’d be. Some are easily spotted, and others hide cat-like, just slightly in view. According to information we saw, there are between 150-250 of the little people scattered around town.
They are true, free-form public art, with no apparent governing body. There’s an official website, but we saw lots of gnomes that weren’t included on their list.
Businesses have gotten in on the act as well. We saw bank gnomes, pub gnomes, stock broker gnomes, accountant gnomes, professor gnomes …
… and even dermatologist gnomes.
And while most are comical, many are designed to communicate a serious message. In fact, their original creators were members of the Orange Alternative movement – an underground protest movement opposed to the communist government in power before independence.
But don’t get the wrong idea. The Wroclaw gnomes are cute, clever, fun, and interesting. They’re so popular that the tourist board sells a map that has locations and names for over 70 gnomes.
You may wonder how these cute little guys stay in place. Well, after a few cases of “gnoming” (when gnome enthusiasts “liberate” a gnome to take it on an “extended vacation”), the sculptors started putting GPS tracking devices in them so they can “find their way home.” And apparently several have, particularly around the University campus.
In case you can’t tell, we absolutely love the gnomes. They stoked our inner child, and were a delightful diversion from the tourist routine.
And hat’s off to Wroclaw for recognizing a good thing and capitalizing on it.
James & Terri
P.S. We prepared a few Gnome FAQs (aka Little-Gnome Facts)
Where do gnomes go for Christmas? Gnome, Alaska
What’s their favorite Shakespearean play? Gnomeo and Juliet
What’s their favorite cowboy song? Gnome on the Range
Do you have any Gnome FAQs?