Sunday, July 08, 2012

July 6-11, 2012 in Krakow, Poland

We took the train down from Warsaw to Krakow.  The PKP Trains are not air conditioned, at least not the one that we were on.  It was a 3 hour ride, and it was a crowded train on this Friday afternoon.  I got advice before the trip to book First class tickets so we would be assured of getting an assigned seat. That turned out to be great advice because we had seats.  Some were seated in hallways, standing and one person was removed from our cabin because another person had purchased that seat prior.

We were picked up by Zibby and driven to our apartment near Krakow Glowny, specifically it is very near the Hotel Chopin.  It is two Tram stops to the Stare Miasto and located where there are plenty of bicycling trails and roads that are suitable for cycling.  Pawo made sure that we had everything we needed, and provided advice.  We stopped by The Wine Garage and, after looking at the menu, decided that we would go to The Metropolitan Restaurant instead.  We all had a great meal and sampled Polish Vodka after.  We had a beer on the Stare Miasto and then came home for the evening.

Saturday - We had breakfast at a bakery near Topolowa and Rackwicka.  The woman working there spoke no English, and my 7 weeks of Community Education Polish paid off.  This was a bakery, so it was really a quick snack.  It was appropriate to have Drugie śniadanie (2nd Breakfast) when the nearby Anc Ho opened at 11:00.  Great meal, we promised to return.  We spent the day cycling saw Schindler's Factory, the Mound to the south of Krakow, the new bike/ped Piłsudski Bridge, the Vistula River and the sobering monument called the Plac Bohaterow Getta.  Dinner was in the Kazimierz at Stajnia, where the food was good but the service was very slow.  We finished the night at Omertà Bar, a place that Kay 2 was aware of from a previous trip.  Omertà features a large number of local craft beers.

Sunday - Breakfast was at Karma, a place that I had learned about reading the Krakow Post web site.  The Post claims that this was where the best coffee in Krakow was to be found, and they were right.  The food, which is 100% vegetarian, was outstanding.  We will return, tomorrow.  We spent the day walking the city and had lunch at Roti Roti, an Indian restaurant for a wrap.  Roti Roti was another Krakow Post recommendation.  Dinner was back at Aco Ho.

Monday - we went cycling and shopping.  We headed along the Vistula River and nearly got to the Tyniec Abbey that is at the end of the trail.  We headed back to the Stare Miasto in time to hear the Trumpet player at noon.   We spent the afternoon shopping, and had dinner at Miyako Sushi at the Galleria.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, after the bike ride and before dinner, we were a bit lost and wandering back to the apartment.  We were looking for a toilet, and striking out.  We found a large, communist-era grocery store and the check-out clerk directed us to the back of the building.  The toilets were locked, so we went to the bar next door.  The bar patrons were all local; we were the only English speaking people in the place.  A gentleman named Francis walked up and shook hands with all ~10 people in the place.  He ordered a beer and asked if he could sit with us.  He knew very little English, and we had a conversation.  It was great.  He knew someone, the son of a friend, who lived in New York… Manhattan.  I introduced him to Kay Squared, and my Polish language skills were tested to their fullest.  The bar keep was a wonderful woman.  We ordered three Żubrówka vodkas, and she suggested some apple juice with that.  We agreed to that.  We had a great chat with Francis, bought him a beer (5PLN = $1.70 USD) and hit the road, happy for the experience.  This all happened  at Ul. Daszynskiego 9 in Kraków.  This is immediately behind the Hala Targowa flea market.

Tuesday - we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau today.  Zibi from Zibi's Taxi drove us and arranged for tickets.  The tour is led by an guide and our group of about 30 people wear wireless headsets to hear the guide walk us through.  The gas chambers and crematoriums were destroyed by the Nazis, except for one.  The tour actually lead us through the gas chamber, including the location where the pellets were dropped.  In the crematorium immediately next door, there was an Auschwitz survivor present with a group of people on a tour.  It was a woman who had to be over 80 years old.  It was an amazing site to see her at that location.  It was also very rare to see a survivor visiting the site.  Zibi indicated that he had only heard of that on 5 or 6 other occasions in the 8 years that he has been driving people to Auschwitz.

Zibby does a great job with his ground transport business.  He has a van that is large enough for a number of people or gear.  He sent someone ahead of us to buy our tickets in advance, so we didn;t wait at all.

We decided on a proper Polish, and early, dinner tonight. The Pod Baranem was our choice and we were all delighted.

Wednesday we are out of here and headed to Olsztyn.


Blogger Rhonda said...

Great call on the first class train tickets.....Sounds like all of you are having a great time!

7:31 AM  

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