Poland: Day Two : Getting Acquainted With Beautiful And Historic Krakow.
After leaving the airport, and being a little tired from the long flight, I decided to take a taxi to my hotel, rather than lug my luggage to the train station. My driver spoke no English but, after a few mispronunciations by me, he finally understood the name of my hotel, the Hotel Grodek in Old Town Krakow.
I always enjoy that first ride through the streets of a foreign country, and that contradiction of everything being so different, but yet sort of the same. There are streets with cars and pedestrians, businesses and homes, trees and flowers, as there are everywhere in the world, , but always with some difference , sometimes subtle and sometimes drastic. In Poland I was immediately surprised at how similar the countryside was to my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I came to love those gently rolling hills covered with birch, pine and aspen trees.
We drove the 20 minutes from the countryside to the city which I would soon become so much more familiar, and endeared to. . Here is a link to some more photographs from my taxi ride to my hotel.https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Two-Taxi-to-Krakow-April-9-2017-
Upon entering the city we veered off the mains streets to a quiet nook located in an ancient part of Krakow where the delightful modern Hotel Grodek is located in a historic medieval building. The staff spoke English and were most accommodating. I loved the old building, which in fact contains a museum. I also loved it’s beautiful rooms and, most important, it’s location a few minutes walk from the main square in Old Town Krakow. There is more information on this hotel, which I will visit again, if you right click red highlighted link.
It was around two p.m. when I arrived at my hotel, and I didn’t waste time taking advantage of it’s central location. I was tired but that was going to stop me from exploring this historic city. After quickly unpacking my luggage I was off on the cobblestone streets of Old Town Krakow.
It was only a few short blocks until I entered in to the hustle and bustle of the Main Market Square, one of the largest town squares in Europe. And it has been around for a long time having been laid out in the 12th century.
And on the other side of the massive Cloth Hall, another building dating back to the Renaissance period, I found even more crowds of people watching the performance of local groups celebrating Polish culture, (here is a link to one of the performances) https://youtu.be/irGpLdrewrg
I continued to walk the ancient cobblestone streets and came upon the planty, the park that surrounds the old town. It was once the location of the moat surrounding the medieval city but was drained and now is an oasis of green separating the old town from the streets of the modern city.
I knew I would visit this castle a number of times in the next week so I took a quick, but exhausting walk to the top walls to get a look around. I was treated with a view of the winding Vistula River below and my first peek at the old churches and historic museums within the walls.
Wanting to see as much as I could this first day I again walked through the main square and to the to the remains of the wall that once enclosed the old town. I stood at the old gate and imagined the many travelers who would entered them over the centuries. Kings, peasants, merchants, soldiers and travelers each having their own impressions, like me, upon seeing them for the first time.
I purchased a ticket for a tour of the massive fortification know as the Barbican. Again, I imagined the defenders who patrolled and fought off the many assaults on the city throughout the many centuries. It was the first line of defense for the residents living within the city walls.
It was now late afternoon and a combination of my tiredness and hunger ended my tour. I made my way back along the planty to my hotel, observing some of the feathered residents of the city. Here is a link to some photographs I took on my first walk through the streets of old town Krakow. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Krakow-walk-to-Wawel-Castle-April-9-2017
The plan was to shower, get a quick meal and get some sleep. I showered and walked to nearby restaurant recommended by the staff of the hotel, the Kogel Mogel. I had a delicious meal of the traditional Polish food pierogi, mushroom soup and goatcheese cheesecake for dessert. I was very tired from my long trip but I didn’t accomplish the third part of my plan. There was a full moon and I decided to walk back to the main square.
I walked the streets for about an hour, listening to the music of the street performers and the conversations and laughter from the many people dining at the outdoor cafes on this warm Spring evening.
It was the perfect way to end my first day in the country of my grandparents. I returned to the hotel excited to see more of this beautiful in the morning. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Two-Sunday-evening-walk-April-9-2017-
“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
― Roman Payne