June 29, 2004

A Day in Kraków

Press HERE to see a slideshow from Kraków.

Kraków's Clock Tower in the Market Square
The Wawel Cathederal

So, yesterday Betty and I drove for almost four hours before arriving in Kraków. Summer appears to be road repair and replacement season, just like in Minnesota. After crossing the border, we notice a number of differences. The country side was much the same. There seem to be a lot more cars, and a lot more rather tiny cars on the roads. In the Czech Republic the roads were almost devoid of any advertisements, but here in Poland we felt overwhelmed by the signage. The people also were a bit different with slightly different body shapes and facial features, like darker eyes. The other thing that jumps out at you is how dingy or dirty the cities and town are in comparison to the Czech Republic.
After stopping to search out accommodations, we quickly noted that Poles smiled more and were a bit friendlier. Of course that could be due to the fact that so many of them, here in Kraków, speak good English. We booked into a very nice hotel, the Batory Hotel, for $42 per night in one of their guest rooms, i.e., not a regular hotel room. I think it is the best room so far, the breakfast was by far the best, and we finally got an English station (BBC) on the TV. After checking in we walked to the beautiful Market Square to find, beer, atmosphere, and a restaurant. The food was great, and the beer was very good - although I think the Czech beer was better.

Kraków is one of those cities that is a must see. It has the largest and one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. Like Prague, it is very relaxed and loaded with historical sites worth seeing. Today, we spent most of the day at just one of them, the Wawel Castle and Cathedral. We only saw part of the complex with visits to the cathedral and to the parts of the castle. We had to skip so much that another trip to the city will be a must for me someday. At three in the afternoon is started to rain. This cold afternoon rain has come down nearly everyday since we began our journey. Because the weather pattern has been imprinted on our minds, we knew that it would clear up in an hour or two. With several hours behind us on Wawel Hill, we walked down Kanonicza Street, where most of the buildings are more than 400 years old. We looked into many of these buildings and their court yards. We found a Ukrainian restaurant in the cellar of one building. We decide to honor our Ukrainian friend Mickie Turk (nee Marislava Wowchek) with a visit to it later in the day. We actually had hoped that Mickie would have joined us on this trip, but alas it was not to be. There are lots of street musicians in the city, from the very young to the very old who play music that ranges from classical to old traditional music. In the square we stopped for a beer in an outdoor café, but it was so cold that we had down our beers and move on. We visited the bazaar at the center of the square and then viewed the inside of St. Mary's Basilica. On the inside, the church was stunningly beautiful. By now it was after six and we were hungry. We made our way back to the Ukrainian restaurant for a lovely meal which included some wonderful borsht. After dinner we saw the Cardinal of Kraków giving an interview in front of Sts. Peter and Paul's Church. It was great to see the way Poles on the street reacted to his walking past. They were clearly excited and several stopped to meet him. After being out all day, we returned to our hotel.

Photo from Kraków

The Vistula River from Wawel Hill
Cathedral Crypt
Young Musicians
Older Musicians
St. Mary's Basilica
Ukrainian Celler Restaurant
Posted by bill at June 29, 2004 11:06 PM