Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Christmas Holidays - Krakow December 28th - 1st January 2007

Krakow - Kazimierz District, Wawel

Bazaar in the old square

Church at Wawel Castle

Luke & I at 'Singer' pub in Kazimierz - the tables are made from old Singer sewing machine tables

Pub named after a barn - the power was out so it was quite dark

Wawel Castle

Map of the jewish district

Wardrobe/door between 2 rooms in the 'Alchemist' pub

Alchemist pub

Kupa means Shit


Dancing with a Polish guy we met that also lives in Dublin

Luke in front of a manger

Ok, so, it's been a heck of a long time since we were actually in Krakow so I'm having a hard time remembering exactly what we did and what happened so I'll just write what I can remember... how's that sound?

We took the train to Krakow (this time we took the express train instead of the milk run train so it took 2 hours instead of 4) and arrived in the late afternoon. In time to track down our apartment, drop off our stuff and head out to find a pint and then go to our favourite restaurant for dinner (we go there every time we're in Krakow because they have duck and Luke loves duck!). We had our pint at a great old traditional underground pub that had cheap drinks. From there we went to the restaurant where we had a fantastic meal. To be honest, I can't remember what we did after that..... Arg. (Next time I won't put this writing business off so that I can remember everything for those of you that enjoy the silly details! I promise).

I guess I'll just cut to the things I do remember....

One of the days we walked around the jewish district, which we'd never done before. We went to a few old pubs that we had researched before we left. There was Singer which had the old school Singer sewing machines that are built into tables, and the only lighting in the place was candlelight, which was beautiful. We also went to a pub called Alchemist which was equally beautiful but it was even more interesting as it had vines growing all inside it, was lit by candles and had many rooms, two of which were divided by a wardrobe, which was very cool. (Angie, you would have loved it - it reminded me of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe! It was almost as if you were going to walk into another world or something....)

One other day we walked to a work camp (Plaszow - much of Schindler's List took place here) which was about a 45 minute walk from the city centre. There was no entrance or exit per se, just a large area that you could simply walk onto and look around on your own. The only thing that made you aware of the fact that you were at the camp was a sign that advised you to act appropriately and respectfully as you were about to enter. It was incredible to us that this camp was surrounded by new builds and that people owned and lived in houses overlooking such a sad place. Luke and I toured the area, saw the buildings and the old factory on the land. It was easy to tell that something horrible had happened there because of the feeling of the place.

That night we went out to dinner at a traditional jewish restaurant where we ate in a lovely little living-room like area and dined while watching a traditional jewish band. It was a fantastic meal and the entertainment was incredible.

Ummm..... ok, I'm going to skip ahead to New Years Eve, the last night of our stay in Krakow. We went out that day and hung around, did some shopping and some sight-seeing and had a nice late lunch/early dinner at a Mexican restaurant where we had fajitas which were weird because they didn't bring a thingy of tortilla's, you just got one and then shovelled eveything on the plate into your face unwrapped. After that we were full so we headed to the apartment and stopped along the way to pick up some drinks to have at the apartment before heading out for the celebrations. There was a concert organized that was happening in the main old city square, which had a massive stage and was showcasing some big Polish bands (Neither of us had heard of any of them but we thought we'd check it out as that's where the party would be happening). We had a drink or two at the house and then headed out at around 9pm to see the concert. We made our way to the main square with the rest of the crowd and found that we couldn't squish ourselves into the square because there were so many people. It was incredible how many people were there. It was like the crowds on Canada Day in Ottawa. So.... we reversed away from the main square and found ourselves at an Irish pub about a block away that we had stopped in one day that had great pints of Guinness and cider. We sat down, ordered drinks and were pleased with our decision to go there as half of the patrons were Polish and half were Irish. We then decided to pay the small charge to be there for the evening which meant we got food all night (little baguette sandwiches which were perfect to go along with the drinks) and champagne at midnight. We ended up chatting with people and then at midnight we ran out to watch the fireworks over the main square. It was fantastic! The photos don't do it any justice. They really splurged on them as they went on for what seemed like forever. When they were over we headed back to the pub to continue the evening and we made some friends, did some dancing, drank some champagne. All in all, a really great New Years Eve. We hope everyone had as much fun as we did.

Next morning we got up and caught our flight home.