7 November 2009

Krakow [Day Three]

If you have been keeping up, you'll know we were going to do a cycle tour this morning. Last night I emailed the cycle tour people to book ourselves in. Lucky I did as they told me the tour started at 12 not 1 as it says on their website. No biggie though, we were just relieved that we hadn't tried to squeeze in the Salt Mine as well.

So this morning we decided we would just go for a wander around the old town, check out Rynek Glowny (main square) and Wawel Hill (containing Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral). We set our alarm for 7 and lazily woke at 8 to this...

Not disheartened, we ventured out. It was FREEZING! But we are tough. The Old Town is really spectacular.
Its like a fusion between new and old - all the old buildings with new/modern stores inside, neon signs etc. But at the same time it is really authentic - cobblestone streets and old style buildings. We walked 'The Royal Route' - the route traveled by royal processions - from the top of the old town to the bottom. This started at Florians Gate (where we also found this really cool statue).

We headed to the main square where we found the name of the building we had seen on the first night (St Mary's Church) as well as the Cloth Hall (which you could hardly see as it is being restored) and Town Hall Tower. We also found an interesting sculpture called Eros Bound.

We then headed down toward the river and Wawel Hill. We walked up onto the hill and took a look at the castle and cathedral (famous for its resident dragon). They were quite cool, but dont really stack up to others we have seen. Worth a look though. From up on the hill you can see down over the river and city. By this stage the fog was starting to burn away and sun was starting to come out, making for some nice views.

We headed down for a walk along the river, and took a look at the stalls selling all sorts of souviner stuff. Rochelle got a little clay dragon which is pretty cool. By this time it was getting close to 12 so we thought we better make our way to the meeting point for our cycle tour,.

So we arrived at 11:50, and stayed until 12:10. Nothing. As you can imagine we were not impressed. So we took a stroll around for a while, and decided to try again at 1pm. Still no go. As we had seen most of the old town by now, we decided to see the other major tourist draw-card ourselves - Kazimierz. This part of the city was predominantly inhabited by Jews pre WW2. It was quite interesting, and a lot like I imagined - old brick and concrete buildings, some very run down. While wandering around we found a huge church - the Corpus Christi, which was really impressive.

We were done seeing Kazimierz by about 2:30pm - so had 8 hours to kill before our train left. We asked at a few tourist places what we could do for the afternoon/evening but were given no good ideas. It was starting to cool down so we needed somewhere warm that we could chill out for a few hours. What better place than the pub - and when pints are about £1.50, theres no reason not to have a couple. We went to a few places, one really cool basement pub (see pics). Only problem is that you can still smoke in the pubs over here - so the later it got, the smokier it became. In the end we couldnt stand it anymore and left.

Luckily we were just down the road from our hotel where we needed to pick up our bags, and luckier still, we were about 5 minutes walk from the main station and a HUGE mall. We still had about 3 hours to wait for our train so just chilled in the mall, had a bit of dinner, and tried (unsuccessfully) to spend the last of our polish money.

Currently we are on the train headed (in a crazy, round-about way) for Budapest. The distance between the two cities is only about 300kms in a straight line, but the train goes through Prague and Vienna before Budapest, taking the total to about a million kms! THANKFULLY we got a cabin to ourselves. It sleeps six, but I have no idea how we would have got on if anyone else was in here - its so tiny. But its perfect for what we need. I just hope that noone else gets on at one of the stations mid-way. Time will tell...

Next Post - 'Krakow to Budapest'

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