Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Weekend in Krakow

On Friday July 4 the campers/students were going on a hike in the afternoon, so after obiad we got on the bus with them and four of us were dropped off at the public bus station. Dorota helped us buy tickets to Krakow. This two hour ride cost us the equivalent of $5.00! We left right on time at 2:50 PM and arrived at the Krakow bus station about 5:00.

I had a reservation at Andel's Hotel in Krakow, a place that is easily walkable from the bus station. After checking in I went to the nearby shopping center to my favorite cafe and had a lovely salad for supper.

I walked about the shopping center some after I was done eating. Then, being tired I headed back to towards the hotel. But in the plaza that connects the two places, I found a small stand selling ice cream cones and couldn't resist. I got a chocolate ice cream cone and then sat down in some nearby chairs to enjoy it and watch some guys practicing for a 3 on 3 basketball tournament that was to take place on Saturday. I had apparently looked away for a moment and suddenly heard: "Uwaga, uwaga, uwaga!" This is a Polish word that can be used for danger or for simply to convey one wants people to pay attention. I had never heard it yelled three times in a row before with great urgency and look up to see an out of control basketball headed right for my face. I paid attention quickly enough to knock the ball back to the players with my left hand before it came smashing into my face -- and didn't drop the ice cream cone in my right hand. Guess those years of high school basketball paid off!

Shortly thereafter I went to my room. I had come to Poland tired after a busy three weeks in Minnesota after leaving Poland as recently as May 25. It felt good to snuggle under the duvet and just sleep, sleep, sleep.

Saturday morning it was well after 10 AM before I crawled out of bed. I went back to same cafe for breakfast. The wonderful breakfast pictured below along with a cappuccino cost about $ 5.00.

After breakfast I walked to Empik, a big Polish bookstore. I was interested in getting a new map for Warsaw since I had managed to leave it along with some materials for lessons at home on a bookshelf!

There I became fascinated to see the Polish guidebook for Peru and Bolivia, Bolivia being a place I visited in March.

I looked at this for a bit and found in the guidebook that the most highly recommended hotel in Cochabamba, the city in which I stayed, is the one also recommended for visitors from Poland.

Then I walked towards the rynek. I found some girls enjoying a juggler act. In the Cloth Hall I ran into some fellow volunteers and we talked for a few minutes. Then I started my way down the street towards Wawel Castle.

Often when walking on this street I'm on a time commitment of some sort or on the way to bus parking to return to Zakopane. This time I decided to just walk slow and see if there are new things or very old things that I have missed.

This type of touring led me to visit first the Franciscan Church.

A side chapel held a quite modern stain-glassed window.
Continuing down the street I found something I had never noticed before -- a Hungarian restaurant!

I surely enjoyed Hungarian food again. It was finom!

The street was full of wedding parties.

I laughed when I saw the wedding car.

It was sporting both the Polish and an English flag -- must be a "mixed" marriage!

I also decided to visit the Dominican Church located on the same street, but in the opposite direction (and I'm so mixed up in directions in Krakow that I don't know what direction it is) from the Franciscan Church. 

I walked in through the magnificent front entrance and once in the foyer I realized a mass was in progress. Most Polish churches have side doors in the foyer with which to enter the church if one is coming when a service is in progress. I used the left door and could see the confessional area and about 1/3 of the main sanctuary.

The organ was booming and playing simply wonderful music. I was most puzzled because it was about 5 minutes to 4:00 in the afternoon and I thought this was an unusual time for a mass to be in mid-progress. However, the music was wonderful and then I hear a choir -- equally wonderful. I found a stone ledge in the back to sit on and stayed there to enjoy the wonderful music associated with the service in progress. And then more wonderful music-- a string group apparently composed of violins and cello. It wasn't until I glimpsed a bride and groom moving towards the left side of the sanctuary, where I had a viewpoint, that I realized I had attended a wedding -- certainly a reason for all the beautiful music -- and certainly a reason for the photographer at the front of the church who had been puzzling me with his actions.

I waited until the wedding party had departed --

and then took a couple more pictures.

It was a hot day in Krakow -- by the way we do temperature in the United States I think it was at least 85 degrees. I was ready for a cool drink and rest at a sidewalk cafe. So I headed back to the rynek.

Returning to rynek I enjoyed watching a young men's hip/hop group.

Went to my favorite place on the rynek and got a Lipton's Tea fruit flavored ice tea. I was delighted when I discovered this came with a glass of ice. I like ice in my drinks and every time I start for Poland I remind myself that this is something I will have to give up for awhile, but I'm starting to see ice appear with drinks more and more.
I sat in the cafe for a long while enjoying the various musical groups that wander along that side of the rynek.

Then I decided a bit of supper was in order. Thankfully I now have enough Polish to read menus with some accuracy and also understanding. I got this and was very happy.

This is pasta with spinach, cheese -- obviously, and just enough bacon to give it all a nice flavor.

My last activity of Saturday in Krakow was to attend a chamber music concert.

St. Wojiech Church sits on the rynek. I went to the concert there last year and enjoyed it very much. So earlier in the day when passing by I had stopped to get a ticket. The concert is presented in a small chapel and only about 20 persons are seated, so getting ticket early in the day is wise.
 I took this picture before the musicians were seated. As can be seen, the audience is seated very close to the musicians. Had I taken a picture while they were performing I would almost have had the camera in their faces. The dome ceiling in this chapel makes it wonderful venue for a small concert.

After the concert I headed back to the hotel and crashed out again. Again I slept late and then returned to the same cafe in the shopping center for breakfast. After breakfast I headed for the planty, carrying my Kindle with me. The day was wonderful for sitting on a park bench and reading. When in Europe, I try to "live" a bit, and not be a tourist every minute of my free time. At home I don't spend all my time visiting churches and museums, and I have observed that Europeans don't do that all the time either. It is just wonderful to "live" a bit.

Later I returned to the same cafe for obiad. And what a meal. I had kotlet with French Fries. It was a large dinner plate and the fries were heaped below the large kotlet, but somehow I managed to eat just about all of it. In front of the cafes on this side of the rynek there was a classic car show in progress. It was fun to see all the older car models as well as some trucks. I also saw two vehicles labeled milicja rather than policja. At this same time I've been reading a wonderful book -- A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka. Part of the book takes place in Krakow in the early 1990s and there are references to milicja, so I will have some questions to ask when I catch up with Polish friends.

All of us in Krakow for the weekend met at the Adam statue in the rynek along with the campers who had come to Krakow for the day. We got back on our bus about 4:45 and returned to Zakopane in about two hours, tired but happy about our weekend adventures.

1 comment:

David and Joan Piekarczyk said...

The stained glass is by Wyspianski who the most famous of stained glass makers in Poland. At different hours in the church the monks come out, sit down in the seats and sing some beautiful songs.