Sunday, August 3, 2008

About Krakow

I am so tardy with this!! My apologies, for anyone who was chomping at the bit to hear about Krakow. To sum it up: we had a lovely time, when we were not in the car. It took forever to get from Auschwitz to Krakow. I’m not sure exactly what the distance is, but it shouldn’t have taken more than about an hour, since we were traveling back roads, but it took… three hours! To put it mildly, the roads in Poland are awful. Just awful. I would suggest to anyone who travels to Poland to avoid car travel. As is also the case in the Czech Republic, natives pay an annual payment to have this sticker that allows you to travel on the highways. Tourists can obtain this sticker as well, at a gas station, but of course, you have to pay for it. This is because there are no tolls. So, trying to save money, we did not pay for the sticker, and so we had to stick to back roads. I don’t know what the highways in Poland are like, but god those roads were just treacherous.

Finally we arrived in Krakow, and it was raining. We were all crabby, so we found our hotel, the Santorini Hotel, which is on the outskirts of Krakow (we planned to take the nearby tram into the center of Krakow for dinner), and checked into our rooms. The hotel was nice and clean and the desk woman even spoke some English. The only scary moment was when she asked us for our passports and said she would keep them until we left, which, of course, we didn’t allow to happen since that would have just been crazy. No problem, she just copied the info from them and we were on our way. The rooms were small but fine, and because the hotel had a restaurant, which seemed pretty nice, we decided to stay there for dinner since, again, it was rather late, we were crabby and it was pouring. We had a nice meal, good beer, and were able to sit there for several hours. We woke up and had the “continental” breakfast, which was very impressive (they even offered little tubs of Nutella for bread!) and then we ventured into Krakow’s center.

I really don’t know what exactly we saw, because the guidebook Katka and Lukas had bought was in Czech, but we went to the old town center, which is surrounded by a nice park (despite the fact that we did see a man coming out of the bushes, pulling up his pants so he was obviously… not urinating… but hey, we’re New Yorkers and we’ve been there, done that) and were in a large square that is divided into two by an old cloth market, which is now a market where various Polish gifts and goods are sold. We saw the main church that is in this square, where every hour a man plays a trumpet, or some kind of horn, out of each of the four sides, to commemorate the original horn blower who was shot with an arrow and killed in the middle of playing a song. The current horn blower plays the same song and stops abruptly in the middle, right when the original man had been shot. This is a big deal for Krakow tourists… we read about it in the guidebook and just barely caught it at the eleven o’clock hour. However, we didn’t see the horn blower, but we were caught in a torrential downpour, which caused us to get some tea and coffee from a nearby cafĂ©. The rain stopped and we left in time to see the twelve o’clock horn blowing, and as we waited, large tourist groups gathered around us. The clock struck twelve and we could hear the horn, but couldn’t see it. It was being blown on the other sides. The leader of a nearby group kept saying in English, “just be patient, you must be patient, he is on the other sides, this is the last side and he will be here soon, be patient” and finally he came out. We could see only the end of the horn, but when he stopped we applauded and he waved, and everyone waved back. It was neat.

We continued walking around, just exploring. We stopped for beer, we continued on, really just walking around the center of this historical area. We had lunch at a restaurant I’d found on , called Wesele, and it was great. Katka had a salad with smoked salmon, Lukas had steak with pepper sauce, Andy had onion pierogies and I (of course) opted for the 3 course prixe-fix, so had beet soup with dumplings (which was flavorful and awesome, though the picture, with flash, looks absolutely sickening) and chicken stuffed with nuts with spinach. And of course, ice cream for dessert. We wandered back to our car and left. The downpours continued, and the back roads also continued to be dreadful. Once we got to the Czech border we sped home. The trip should have lasted 5 hours, but instead took 8, due to Polish roads, and the terrible traffic in Krakow. However, Krakow itself was great and we had a good time.

For Krakow pics, see the below post with links!

No comments:

Post a Comment