Wandering Old Town

Today a pigeon or swift pooed on me.

Feces from the sky while was trying to take a photo of a crucifix on the back side of a church. Probably God’s way of telling me to be more respectful and humble in life, or perhaps just God’s good sense of humor. Luckily there was a fountain where I could get a bit of water to dab off the good luck.

There is so much sculpture in Old Town. Every where you turn there are sculptures on corners, in plazas, frieze on buildings, mounted sculpture… and from many time periods. There are some great Renaissance works, lots of stuff from communist times, and a few newer modern pieces. It makes for a fascinating mix of time and place.

We took in Wawel castle today and saw the dragon sculpture breathing fire. Later the poor creature was covered in screeching children, dozens of them climbing his back and legs. Poor fellow, it must be exhausting.

The tour of Wawel is worth the trip up the hill, lots of very cool art and tapestry inside, and the building interior shows the changing fortunes of Poland. You see how the castle was fixed and changed over time, and how much history it has as a building. It is still alive and changing today, there are huge restoration and repair projects on the grounds. A warning if anyone comes this way, get to Wawel early. Krakow seems to wake up slow on a weekend, but by noon the streets are packed!

We ate at a pub/restaurant near the central market of old town called Miod i Wino, and I can now check another species off my list of animals to eat: wild boar. It was a lot like pork, with just a bit of gamey taste and a bit tougher a texture. It came with this mushroom and cream sauce that is amazing, and potato pancakes. ( My low carb diet is taking a beating! ) They also served an appetizer of lard with pork and garlic, you spread it like butter on bread. Absolutely amazing, and I am going to try and make it when we get back home. I think it was bacon grease with ground pork and garlic, but I’m going to experiment. It sounds kind of gross, but it is divine! They also do these prunes and olives wrapped in bacon. Mmmm… bacon…

After dinner we met up with Michal and his fiance ( who I apologize too, I am not sure how to spell and pronounce your name properly. ) We went for pivo ( beer ). We tried some beer on a patio in the market square, and it was okay, then went to this pub where they serve beer in these tall clear tubes and measure the servings in them in litres. There is a small spout where you pour from. We had a local brew from that bar, and it was very good. Sort of a medium darkness, light filter. Then we had some glasses of an unfiltered beer, tasted close to Rickards White, but a bit more texture to the hops. Poland is the place for some of my beer connoisseur friends to come, lots of good stuff here. I think Sarah had a bit too much pivo, and not enough woda ( water ) because she’s feeling pretty rough today.

Michal and his fiance ( sorry! ) are awesome, their english is good, much better then my polish, especially after a couple pints. At least I got some laughs as I tried to learn some polish ( reading the back of a cigarette carton ) and trying to say simple words like ‘tak’ ( yes ). Sarah on the other hand is much better. Ah well, perhaps I can redeem myself on our next trip to Poland…

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So there were some technical difficulties enroute to Krakow that make it a bit tricky right now to log on and post, so this post has been back-dated a couple days…

Amsterdam was easy, but the cab ride from the Warsaw airport was brutal slow ( and a bit white knuckle, cabbies drive a bit crazy when fares are running long! ) The train station was very chaotic, people moving about everywhere and there weren’t many staff in the ticket booths who spoke english. Lucky for us there were a number of good samaritans in the station who knew a bit or a lot of english. We were helped by a gentleman who was apparently a meteorologist, and he was telling us about how the weather has been while we waited for the train to Krakow. He also helped us out a great deal with our tickets and finding where we needed to be on the platform. Even with his help when the train came we were in the wrong spot, and I am pretty sure we rode to Krakow on the wrong car, but the ticket man on the train didn’t seem to care if we were in wagon 3 instead of wagon 2. The seat numbering is what threw us off, our tickets seemed to say we were in wagon 2 seats 86 and 88, but when we got on wagon 2 the seats were all in the 100s.

Once we were in our seats things were great, the train is an amazing way to travel. Seeing the Polish country side and the way people farm was fascinating. They have very small farms, and they farm in long narrow rows, maybe 30-50 meters wide by 250 meters long. ( Maybe the size of 3 city lots in Calgary ) So you get these neat patterns of different crops in rows, all in different stages of growth and harvest. It looks like they get a much longer growing season here then we do in Alberta, because the spring wheat is already forming and starting to ripen. There also seems to be some tree farms, I don’t know if they are just for growing trees or if they are for timber, but they have rows of trees in different ages. Very cool.

The countryside is mostly rolling hills, scattered farms, and small areas of trees. Mostly deciduous but there are also conifers of some sort, they look like a type of pine. I think the farms were a mix of grains, potatoes, and food crops. I think I saw a few apple or plum orchards, and maybe some walnuts and peaches. Lots of hops.

People so far have been really nice in Krakow, and they were very patient and helpful as Sarah and I took our bags on and off the train. One fellow offered to help us with our bags, which was sweet but we declined. By the time we got into Krakow Glowny (sp?) station we were pretty brain dead from the travels. The Hotel Amedeus is very central to Old Town, and is very nice. Governor General Adrian Clarkson stayed here at some point, her picture is on the wall beside the hotel computer.

Landing in Amsterdam

So we’ve made it to Europe!
The flight was all right, though it was full of babies. Thankfully you can drown babies out with prodigious use of Boombox Saints, Miley Cyrus, and the KLM in flight Tiesto mix. As usual I did not sleep on the flight, though I think Sarah did.
We are just enjoying the hyper-polite airport staff and announcements with a bit of airport grub. My sandwich claims to be made with 100% welfare meat. Not sure that has the same connotation as it does in Canada, because it sure doesn’t taste like no-name brand canned meat.
Uh-oh, the iPod is about to run out of juice…

Posting from my iPod

So here I am posting to my blog again. Huzzah. Now with the added novelty of doing so with sausage fingers on the iPod touch type pad. May the choas and typo madness be kept at a minimum. So thankfully I will be able to blog and keep everyone sort of in the loop as Sarah and I take a merry jaunt through a flooding Poland and Paris in June.
With the packing done and the checklist items checked we are about ready to get this trip underway. One last sleep and it is off to YYC to grab a KLM flight that will dodge rain storms and volcanic ash clouds. Booyah!
Update: Testing new twitter + facebook feeds for posting.