Krakow Day 6 Last day

Krakow Trip Report

Day 6

Last Day

Today is our final day in lovely Krakow. It has been a great trip and I have really enjoyed chronicling it. This morning was wet, cold and gloomy. Just as the same weather that greeted us-so it only seemed fitting to send us off with the same conditions. We went for a walk along Wawel Hill as the early morning dew settled on jagged rocks. Wanting to make the most of our last day here- rain was no deterrent. Frank made spontaneous plans for a tour called Communism Tours http://www.crazyguides.com/krakow_tours/communism_tour_of_nowa_huta_district

Our “crazy guide” named Peter picked us up, and loaded us in his Vintage Trabant car (aka- “the soap box”) – for our deluxe communism tour- a 4 hr. tour complete with lunch at an authentic “commie” restaurant.  A bright orange “Mr. Bean-esque” automobile was waiting for us. It was entirely made of plastic with an engine of a fancy lawnmower that requires a cocktail of oil and gas to run it, that continually stalled and required at times prayer and finger crossing to restart (and some Polish swearing). As he drove, with me in the front seat and Frank crammed into the back seat, he told us of the communist history and the community which was the main subject of the tour- Nowa Huta.

Our first stop was at the only restaurant that existed during communism. We had some hot beverages and Peter described what it was like to live life as a communist. Although, he was only in his late 20’s his parents lived through communism and spoke of the struggles of the Polish people during this time.

The next stop was at the Steel Factory that was the main work source for the community. He told us stories with passion and gave us his spin, living life in Poland during communism. After the factory, he took us to an apartment (“museum”) that showed what it was like to live in a communist residence. He showed us a short movie that illustrated the propaganda that was fed to the Polish people. He served us several different flavors of vodka. Between the scratchy fabric couch, the entertaining film and the alcohol, I was thoroughly brainwashed and ready to sign up! (jk) It was very interesting and even more so persuasive. Of course, we all know how this story ends, with the fall of communism in 1989. (Mr. Gorbechev- tear down this wall!”)

Our last stop was at a government owned restaurant- to get an authentic feel for a “no frills” kind of meal. http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/easterneuropeanfoods/a/Milk-Bars-Bar-Mleczny.htm  The restaurant is called a “milk bar”. It is homemade, nothing fancy, but wholesome food. There is no bathroom, no waitress, limited selection-but again- good wholesome CHEAP food. I wish we had found this day 1! Peter ordered us all potato pancakes in a creamy mushroom sauce, served with sauerkraut, beets and carrots. We had some “compote”- juice with it. All three of us ate for less than the equivalent of $7!!!!!

The tour was a fun filled 4 hrs. Peter dropped us off at the Galleria Mall/Train station where we did some light shopping. Frank had his first Starbucks coffee in 7 days. The cost of the coffee was half the price of our whole meal for 3 of us combined!  

We walked back to our hotel, with a pit stop in the main square for some more shopping. We bought a beautiful, luxurious Polish linen tablecloth with colorful flowers embroidered and some souvenirs for the “peeps” back home.  

I am ending the blog a little early as we will be calling it an early night for a 6am flight tomorrow back home. Krakow has been like finding a pearl in an oyster. Having been all over Europe, I had never considered Krakow. But, spending 1 week here, I have grown to love the spirit of the Poles. They are a feisty bunch, that have been on the fighting (and losing) end of many battles. Their history is vast; they are proud, strong, and independent. They are not Russia, they are not Germany- they are distinct in their culture and have strong traditions. The Jews live in solidarity with the Catholics, both so individual-but both have strong faith-faith that had been challenged them time and time again. For all these reasons, I leave Krakow with a renewed love and spirit for all beings. I will fight a little bit harder and practice a bit more tenacity- all in the spirit of Poland.  

Krakow TOP 10:

10. Wawel Hill

9. Hotel Senaki and the wonderful reception desk!

8. Masses first night & Sunday AM @ St. Mary’s Basilica

7. Jewish Quarter Tour/ City Center Tour

6. Klezmer concert in Kazimierz

5. Symphony at Philharmonic

4. Schindler Museum

3. Communism Tour with Crazy Guides

2. Queen concert at Philharmonic

1. Horse and carriage ride through Main square

 Love and all glorious Polish things….

~B&F~

P.S. See you in the fall-maybe Lisbon?

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Bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Krakow Trip Report Day 5

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Krakow Trip Report

Day 5

Our trip is dwindling down, but it really has been amazing. I have enjoyed Poland thoroughly and feel we have truly absorbed the culture, the FOOD, and the spirit of the people. It is always good to go away and learn new things, experience new adventures and see how other people live. It is also good to return to reality, live in the present, earn money and then plan the next gig!

This morning we went back to St. Mary’s Basilica   http://www.sacred-destinations.com/poland/krakow-st-marys-church for morning mass. It was standing room only – a full house- all there for the same purpose. As I sat in the pew, with my husband at my side, many thoughts circulated in my brain. Listening to the priest‘s steady voice as it echoed off the ornate walls and the opulent ceiling-in a foreign language in a foreign land-  I felt a  total complete calmness down to the center of my being. For someone, who is at most times-in a constant state of anxiety and whirling thoughts and tasks, this serenity was welcome. In addition to the tranquility I was feeling, an overwhelming feeling of love enveloped me. I prayed for the people not as fortunate as I am who have financial burdens, emotional demons and are in crisis. It was a moving experience that left me tearful and very moved. Later as I shared this with Frank, he voiced a similar feeling and summarized it in a logical way that being in church (or however one connects to their “GOD”) forces one to slow down their thoughts, focus on the beauty surrounding you and take a deeper look at oneself. To summarize this experience, people ask me all the time-“why do you go to Church if this is not your born faith?”  My answer is clear –in this whole paragraph.

After the church, we went on a mission back to the Jewish Quarter, to search out this famous ice cream establishment called Lody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNpLTl0hO5M   apparently, people go insane over this. It is quite popular. The line was not bad at all, maybe 10 minutes. In the summer, it wraps around the entire block. With much anticipation, we got our ice cream cones- coffee flavored and blueberry. I was not overly impressed; in fact I favor Dairy Queen vs. Lody. Frank (I think just to annoy me) LOVED it. As the same as the Great Matzah Ball debate of 2014, this may follow the same course.

After the lack luster sweet treat, we made our way to Schindler’s Factory http://www.mhk.pl/branches/oskar-schindlers-factory   which is actually a World War II museum  called Muzeum Hystoryczne Miasta Krakowa. It was a very interesting exhibition that captured all the senses. As it takes you through events in a time sequence, leading you down claustrophobic dark hallways, confined cattle cars, commentary from survivors and emotional accounts of horrific atrocities. It was intimidatingly crowded with masses of school groups, obnoxious indifferent teenagers and multi-language tours creating frustration and congestion. But, once you get past these benign annoyances, it really is a fascinating museum that any person interested in WW II should see. Interestingly enough, Schindler from the movie Schindler’s list has not much to do with it, other than the site of the original factory. We spent 3 fact filled hrs. there.

From the museum, we made our way back to the center of the Jewish Quarter called Kazimierz  http://cracow.zaprasza.net/kz/ . We ate at a traditional Polish Restaurant called Szara Kazimierz  http://www.szarakazimierz.pl/en  It was a beautiful restaurant (Michelin rated) with excellent service. I ordered the special which was White Beet Soup( not beets at all) a fermented (yes-fermented) vegetable soup that had hardboiled eggs in it. I took one taste of the sour concoction- and gave it right to Frank. He was having his own little strange feast with Black pudding (ummmmmmmmm, duck blood and a kasha like grain!) The next course was pierogis for me- which is essentially a Polish ravioli. It was quite tasty and Frank had a Loin of something or other. The sparkling water was more expensive than my dinner! The dinner was extremely affordable and other than the strangely, unfamiliar dishes to me, it was very enjoyable.

We rushed back to hotel for the evening’s event at the Philharmonic, the same place as last night’s symphony. We saw a symphonic production of a tribute to the rock band Queen. There was a small but mighty orchestra, a sublime choir and even a Freddie Mercury –like singer, with the addition of a strong Polish accent. There were 4 encores, an amazing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a stellar “We are the Champions.” We had great seats and jammed out for 2 hrs.

We are calling it an early evening as it is rainy outside and fatigue is accumulating in my bones.

Love and fermented veggies…..

~B&F~

 

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Krakow Trip Report Day 4

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Day 4

Ok, Let me preface by saying firmly that Auschwitz Concentration Camp is no joke- not funny  at all- and I would never, ever insinuate that it is. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the concentration camp…………..We will call this the Concentration Camp Kerfuffle.

Let me explain…..Frank and I have been to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp outside Berlin several years ago. It was an emotional experience for us both; it forever changed me. On a human level it was unbelievable and as a Jew, it was frightening.  A couple years ago, we went to Dachau outside Munich- it was a similar experience.  Being such a short distance right outside Auschwitz, I felt it was necessary to make this a part of our journey here.

Last night, we purchased tickets through our hotel, through a private agency called see Krakow http://www.seekrakow.com/   The tour guide picked us up outside our hotel and brought us to a van which held 3 British Prince Harry wannabe’s, boasting their previous night’s conquests with the ladies. They permeated the tight enclosed space with their onion reeking sub, munching away their hangover as they discussed loudly in detail, all the gals they conquered.

The next stop- we picked up no less than 20 sorority type girls, clacking their gum, their waifey little bodies, squeezing 2 and 3 girls in one seat, as Frank and I were crammed against a window, trying not to inhale the loves baby soft and onion concoction. This tuna can on wheels turned into a night club/hook up scene- that in no way represented the sacredness and sobering tone going to a death camp should inhabit. In the end, this was the main reason I chose to leave this excursion.

When the tour guide realized the tour was overbooked, I chirped up and volunteered to forfeit our seats for a refund, because honestly- I felt trapped in a bad teen movie. Some negotiations over a walkie- talkie in aggressive Polish began. In the end, we were booted off the van (graciously) with promise of full reimbursement. As I coolly wished Prince Harry and his brigade good luck- I wacked my head on the roof of the van, knocking my glasses off-all in a totally “cool cat- 40 something AARP card carrying way.”

*By the way, I can’t comment one way or another regarding the tour company as they did oblige to our wishes. In addition, our hotel was completely professional and actually apologetic and gave us a full refund.

In the end, we chose mutually that memorializing the ways the Jews lived, rather than how they were murdered is how we chose to spend the rest of the day- so please read on….

So, yesterday I mentioned having a Plan B on standby, and I am nothing if not a woman of my word. This is in fact, what we did. We went to The Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace  http://muzeum.krakow.pl/For-visitors.53.0.html The palace is from the 1500’s and has a mild smattering of Renaissance paintings and artifacts. It was a pretty small collection as half the museum was under construction. But, it was enjoyable and only took a short time to work our way through them.

Next, we stopped at our new favorite coffee/cupcake joint- cupcake corner http://cupcakecorner.pl/en/  It’s all organic, has yummy flavors and good coffee-  as we have not found a Starbuck’s yet here in Krakow. We collected our thoughts, made a plan and moved on to our next stop.

We made our way on foot to the Jewish Quarter as we had yesterday, minus the golf cart and the creepy guy. The same tour company we used on our first day- Free walking tour  http://freewalkingtour.com/jewish-krakow,city,1,9,10,40.html  also has a tour of the Jewish Quarter. Well, let me tell you, we got our money’s worth on this one! It is a 2 ½ hr. tour that takes through the Jewish Quarter, many of the major historic hotspots, the Jewish Ghetto and lastly Schindler’s factory from Schindler’s list.

The guide was a lively young guy, who barely took a breath- reciting interesting facts, and an intimate spin on things from a real Krakovian. Outside the famous and oldest synagogue- Remuh Synagogue   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXKzxDHf4W0

Which was where the tour started- was a festive Shabbat service was underway. A circle was formed, 100 people with arms wrapped around each other singing Jewish hymns. A mutual love and camaraderie flowed from this group. We made our way to many memorials, famous restaurants and historic areas.

After the tour, we took a taxi back to the center of the Jewish Quarter to an old slaughter house that ironically is now a thriving market. But, the real focus is on a zapiekanka 

http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/polishmaincourses/r/zapiekanka.htm  It basically is all the rage here (at least for tourists or drunk 20 somethingers) but it is a “Stouffers type” French bread pizza with numerous possibilities and additions. You wait for 5-10 minutes for this little creation. Everybody eats standing up, with eager begging pigeons, nibbling on the zapienkanka droppings that fall from the overly eager “diners”. It was somewhat satisfying, somewhat disappointing. My combination was slightly unsettling, especially because I personally chose it— green onions, pickles and ketchup. My belly flip flops just reminiscing….

After our strange food consumption, we scurried back to the hotel to change quickly for the symphony at Philharmonic  http://www.filharmonia.krakow.pl/?l=2  It was a lovely concert, performed to perfection.

After the concert, we walked through the main square, purchasing some gifts for the peeps back home and a few little trinkets for ourselves. The pottery is exquisite here and we have picked up some unique pieces.

At this point, hunger was nudging again. Yes, I am sorry- food is a major part of a vacation. And, if I must eat it, you must hear about it. That is just the way this blog thing works. Remember, come one week- protein shakes and salad are my friend… But for now, we are eating our way through Krakow…..

We stopped back at the hotel for some food recommendations and had a very entertaining, informative conversation with Jan- our receptionist at Senacki Hotel  http://www.senacki.com/  Him and his colleague Lucas have gone out of their way to answer all our questions (and there are numerous) and has been extremely accommodating. If ever in Krakow, I highly recommend this hotel. They have truly made the experience a memorable one.    

I digress…. Back to eating- we dined at an Italian establishment just behind our hotel called la Campana   http://www.lacampana.pl/en   We had a light dinner, out in the courtyard, by candlelight, under the stars. There were some technical issues and logistics, like reading a menu in the dark and dropping one’s fork several times and such, but it was a romantic setting, good food- not to filling, but satisfying all the same. And, being that this was our 8th meal of the day (just kidding)………….

So, that’s our concentration camp story- sad but true….

Love and strange French bread tasting- unable to pronounce- weird concoctions that drive the tourists wild ………..

~B & F~    

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Krakow Trip Report Day 3

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Day 3

19,268 Steps

 

Today was a plan B kind of day. Plan A completely fell through, which in retrospect was a good thing……. Today we were to go to a brewery 2 ½ hrs. away with a driver. I am not much of a drinker and it was quite costly, but it was rated high in trip advisor.  We arose quite early for this aborted adventure.  The sun was intensely bright and beautiful day weather wise was clearly emerging. The thought of being stuck in a car for ½ the morning with a stranger on such a fine day seemed so ludicrous.  After we scarfed down our eggs, we went to wait for our ride. On a whim, Frank had the receptionist call the company to ensure they were coming. Our receptionist translated to us from the company they never received our reservation and in no way were coming. Relief swept over us as a new plan developed.

We set off in the glorious spring air with an improvised plan. First, we snuck in St. Francis church http://www.inyourpocket.com/poland/krakow/sightseeing/churches/St-Francis-Basilica_17079v   It was dark inside and no one in site, but an angelic voice accompanied by an organ serenaded us. We sat in a pew, as the hustle bustle of work life commenced on outside the door. I sat and quietly reflected in gratitude, thankful for this moment of peaceful respite.  

Next, we walked through the Planty Park  http://www.krakow-poland.com/things-to-do/11/the-planty  The early morning air still had a crisp cool to it, but it was warming up and layers were quickly being pulled off.  Dogs and their distracted owners were abundant, late stragglers hurrying off to work and school scurried off, and people just like us with nowhere to go, and no one to see strolled on by. After a dreary, wet cold season (as many of my peeps back home in the States know) Spring resurrects a rebirth and ignites an energy from the kindling of Winter’s embers.

After an invigorating walk through the park, we briefly stopped at the box office for the theatre in which we will be seeing two shows- one Saturday night and the other Sunday night. I will not disclose any more than this as this will be material for my future blogs…..

Next, we did something I had never done and always wanted to do. We took a horse drawn carriage ride through the main square and up Wawel hill , through many of the tourist sites  http://www.krakow-info.com/rides.htm  It was about a 20 minute ride, cost 100 pln = $32. It was well worth it. We clumped down the cobble stone streets as the two horses in full colorful regalia escorted us through the promenade. I felt like royalty as I waved to the onlookers. The weather was perfect for such a special treat. Some minimal memorized facts were touted off by the rider to fill in some of the blanks on this interesting city.

After our exhilarating ride, we stopped off at Cloth Hall  http://www.krakow-info.com/1clothall.htm as mentioned  in yesterday’s blog- one big ass market of sorts, with knickknacks, bric-a-bracs, and souvenirs. I purchased a beautiful pair of cobalt blue earrings.

Hunger started to trickle in at this point, so we chose a mediocre Italian restaurant called Grazie  http://www.alepizza.com/wszystkie-pizzerie/restauracja-grazie/  a pretty restaurant, with garlic permeating the air. But, the pizza was pretty unmemorable, undercooked, unseasoned and very disappointing.

We started walking towards some sites, debating what to do next when a squirrely looking gentleman in a goofy golf cart offered to take us through the Jewish Quarter- with complete English translation. Sadly, my voice of reason Frank- was in a carb coma induced state from hideous pizza ingestion and permitted me to consent to this nonsense. For the same price of the majestic, memorable carriage ride- we putted around town, dodging trams, cars and preoccupied pedestrians. The “translator” was an annoying lady in a speaker, barking in our ear, a pre- recorded “Jewish Quarters for Dummies” version operated by remote control.

As he pointed vigorously to the first synagogue, or where they filmed Schindler’s list, Frank fervently clicked away with his camera trying to keep up with the aggressive digit trajectory. This is one of the many reasons I love this man, as he put up with these “Disney World – esque” antics, just to save some wear and tear on my sadly blistered toes. It was an adventure, but as the same as the pizza- not recommended, and just like the pizza- a bitter, nasty aftertaste.

We walked through some colorful markets, selling various versions of crap. We had a yummy gelato ice cream cone and stopped for a coffee to rest for a much needed break. After, we bought some unique pottery at a store called Gallery  http://galeriameble.com/  It was full of interesting, fragile and, vibrant  ceramics. We trudged on back to the hotel for a much needed nap.

We awoke with the sounds of church bells, malingering crowds and Polish chatter from outside. We went for Indian at Indus Tandoor  http://www.en.indus.pl/   I was not overly impressed. First off- Frank got soup so spicy I saw steam shooting out his ears. He was rendered speechless, slightly disoriented and somewhat impaired. The waitress forbid us from free tap water (I know, you have all heard this pet peeve of mine). The verboten complimentary water and exceedingly spicy food are a bad combination. In addition, the restaurant’s bathroom was outside the restaurant in an intimidating night club. The waitress was dismissive and somewhat rude-all in all, not my best meal.

We did some walking around the city to burn off some of that bloating Indian grub- warding off an aggressive homeless man, drunken Krakovians,and a fist fight or 2. Now, after a couple of tums, I shall rest my exhausted bones.

Tune in for more tales of adventure…

Love and Spicy Indian induced Heartburn………..

~B & F~

 

 

 

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Day 2 Krakow

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Trip Report 2014

Krakow

Day 2

We woke up this morning with blinding sun slicing through the window, like a laser gun.  As last night ended with dreary rain, this was an unexpected pleasant surprise.  We had to pack our items, as we were switching hotels. Last night’s peaceful respite was temporary as our reserved hotel was ready for us. We ate the complimentary breakfast in a modern, bright eating area. Breakfast items included sausage, eggs, fancy cheeses and tempting pastries. There were also some very unusual, slightly exotic foreign items if one was looking for a traditional Polish breakfast- such as bananas floating in some sort of liquid, and “mayonaisy”- strange compilations of curiosity. I kept it pretty simple, meeting my weekly quota of carbs all in one sitting.

The hotel kindly and generously paid for our taxi to take us to our new lodging. We are staying at Senaki Hotel http://www.senacki.com/    We are literally central to everything and our view is of a 13th century church. It is clean, comfortable and close to everywhere we want to go.  The staff at both hotels have been so polite, accommodating and helpful. I really have to say – being 2 days in- I dig the Polish peeps.  They are a fun group of people, formidable to being the brunt of many jokes.  I would equate it to the efficiency of the Germans and the spunk of the Irish. These are just my observations in my short experience of worldly affairs.   

So, we made our way back to the main market and met a group for a walking tour throughout the city http://freewalkingtour.com/   There were about 15 of us, with a lively Polish gal who provided interesting commentary on the major sites. She was quick and I did my best to keep up, as there was much to see and a lot of helpful tidbits, facts and little nuggets of info crampacked in 2 hrs.  Included in our tour we saw: St Mary ‘s Cathedral (from last night’s post) Cloth Hall http://www.krakow-info.com/1clothall.htm   (“the world’s oldest shopping center” ) over 700 years old. We moseyed by some famous statues and sculptures then we ascended up the famous Wawel Hill https://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/ , which has a castle, cathedral, museum and magnificent panoramic views. The tour as the name indicates it is free and really provided us with a nice lay of the land. We gave her a well-earned tip (which was optional).

After the tour we lingered on the hill, ate some light sandwiches we had packed as the bright sun warmed the midafternoon air.  It was a beautiful day-68 degrees with bright sun and some gusty wind.  Then we made a quick stop to see the famous Lady with the Ermine – a Leonardo da Vinci painting from 1489. It is located in the Czartoryski Museum  http://www.czartoryski.org/museum.htm  A lone picture, all by itself- that took 5 flights of stairs to get to. It is about the size of the Mona Lisa, surrounded by 4 body guards. An awkward 5 minutes, with 8 eyeballs staring at us- as we were the only ones in the room.

From there, we went to the cathedral   http://www.krakow-info.com/katedra.htm  Its history spans 1000 years and is chuck full of saints, royalty and religious memorabilia. We toured the crypts below, with the eerie silence and serene stillness.

We made our way, weary with fatigue- a full 6 hrs. after we started out –back to the hotel to rest. After a brief hr. rest- we took a taxi to the Jewish section for a Klezmer concert in the famous Isaac Synagogue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6DsNa6Cmb0  Klezmer music is traditional Jewish music, for me evoking memories of weddings and joyous celebration from my culture. Isaac synagogue, the original structure was destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. The simple building stands in defiance- as a sign of strength. There were roughly 20 people in the audience, but the music was heartfelt and filled with emotion.  The concert lasted an hour and was very enjoyable.

From there, we went to Ariel Restaurant   http://www.ariel-krakow.pl/?page=sg&lan=en    This establishment was reminiscent of my dear late Bubbe’s (“Jewish Grandmother) living room. It even smelled like her kitchen! Its specialty is Traditional Jewish cuisine. Lace tablecloths adorn the mismatched tables with paintings and random tchotchkes strewn throughout. Frank and I both had matzo ball soup- which oddly was not a ball at all, but misshaped triangles. This disturbed me- but not Frank; also, the ratio of broth to ball- very off. Frank had a duck of hearty proportions, and I had the potato lakes. My Jewish peeps (Neenee if you are reading this- shout out to you!)  set the bar too high, so  for me- this restaurant receives a B- (Frank gave them an A).

I must at this point address this- Krakow has really been quite affordable; actually, cheaper than home. I am loving the Zloty’s- the Polish currency. Euros are at their all-time high, so to have the allure and romance of Europe and the fiscal loveliness of the Zloty- is a win-win for me. (No offense Euro using countries)…..

We ventured back to hotel by cab- An early night as a big day ahead of us tomorrow.

Love and big ole’ Round Matzo Balls………..

~B & F~

       

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Dinner at Farine

Day 1 Krakow Pics

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DSCN2226Dinner at Farine

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Krakow Day one Pics

Krakow Day one Pics

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Krakow Trip Report

Greetings from Krakow, Poland

Trip Report March 2014

Hello friends from deep in the Eastern block of Europe. After 24 hrs. of travel, a minor airplane malfunction and an impromptu hotel switch- here we are! Arriving dreary in a valium induced hangover- brought on by airplane anxiety, Krakow greeted us with an overcast sky and a balmy coolness. A silent cabby drove us to our destination as cute, idyllic farmhouses whizzed by my periphery adjacent to oddly modern, and peculiarly out of place homes.

Our hotel which Frank had extensively researched – strangely misplaced our reservation with a computer glitch. As my ugly American threatened to emerge-the lovely receptionist explained, there is another room at their sister hotel waiting for us. Another silent cabbie, chauffeured us to our new establishment Hotel Kossak (http://www.hotelkossak.com/); a beautiful 4 star hotel overlooking the main epicenter of Cracow- Wawel Castle (https://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/).  We are situated on the 5th floor, with expanse views, and all the luxuries one would be so grateful for after jet lag, exhaustion and the wears of international travel. We showered and took a heavenly nap as daylight drifted into darkness. Droplets of rain softly pelted the window lightly tapping us awake.

We explored our surroundings, walking down the wet cobblestone; eventually, leading us to the central hub- Main Market Square. (http://www.krakow-info.com/rynek.htm) Interesting architecture representing various time periods- Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque served as marble landscape. We found ourselves in St. Mary’s church (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/poland/krakow-st-marys-church) just by chance as a service was underway. We quietly sat down at a pew, as Military and State Police officers lined the church, shoulders touching, 2×2, 100 men deep. Unclear as to what was going on, we sat mesmerized, as the priest, in Polish conducted the service. An Operatic angel delivered hypnotic hymns as the crowd kneeled, sat and stood on cue. Still unclear the ceremony that took place, or what was spoken, it was captivating, unplanned and a complete unexpected delight. The church itself is from the 15th century and the altarpiece was an artistic, religious work of art.

The weather began to deteriorate at this point, windy, cold and rainy- but we were prepared for this and it did not affect our enthusiasm for getting to know this city. We found ourselves outside a charming restaurant Restauracija Farina (http://www.farina.com.pl/en/), specializing in traditional Polish dishes and fresh seafood. We had a very affordable “soup to nuts” meal – that was delicious, amazing service and a beautiful setting. Tulips and candles on candelabras adorned the cozy dwelling. Petite, dainty waitresses provided incredible service with impeccable English. I started with a creamy mushroom soup with a velvety texture and chuck full of earthy and hearty mushrooms and Frank had a seafood soup. Our next course was trout with crispy tasty potatoes and a pasta dish with fresh vegetables for me. We ended the meal with a tasty sweet desert. It was an indulgent meal, enjoyable and truly represented Krakow. We continued to walk through the city, as the rain lightly dotted the earth.   

Love and tasty morsels of Polish Mushrooms~

~B & F~

 

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Belgium Trip Report Day 10 Final Day

Belgium Trip Report Day 10 Final Day.

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Belgium Trip Report Day 10 Final Day

Trip Report

Belgium 2013          

November 3, 2013    

A girl, her hubs and a suitcase…………..

Day 10     

LAST DAY

Well, it’s about that time folks when all the Euros are gone, full and bloated and ready to go home. It has been a lovely experience and a great country. Today we awoke crawled out into the damp morning darkness. We picked up a quick croissant and made our way back to the Belgium Fine Arts Museum. There are several parts to the museum, Ancient (which we did yesterday) Modern, the Margitte and a special show featuring Roger van der Weyden-an early Flemish painter from the 15th century. We paid for the special show and also the modern museum. Frank had studied these pictures for several months as he is an art buff and was enthusiastic to see the paintings first hand.

The van der Weyden show was exceptional. We used audio guides and wondered through the exhibit. It took about 2 hrs. We broke for lunch stopping in the museum café again. We had some nice hot split pea soup and quiche for Frank, a Panini for me.  We rested our feet and our minds, then took off for the remainder. We were disappointed to find out that almost ½ the museum’s paintings, and ALL the 19th century –impressionist paintings were in the basement locked up. They are opening another museum next month to incorporate these. So, we went back to the paintings we saw yesterday-seeing them with fresh eyes.  We became quite good friends with a helpful volunteer at the information desk who shared our same disappointment.

We ventured back to the hotel with the dreary rain coming down. Made a quick souvenir stop and back to the hotel to pack for tomorrow’s early AM flight back home. Tonight we will be going to the opera hall (http://www.lamonnaie.be/en/)  for a symphony- War Requiem.    

Some CHEERS & JEERS for the trip:

CHEERS

  • Gent at night
  • Our fondue extravaganza
  • Our awesome room in Lille,France
  • The French pastries!!!
  • the fresh squeezed orange juice in Lille, France
  •  Palais-des Beaux Arts in Lille
  • The Trench Museum Sanctuary Woods
  • Crupet,Crupet,Crupet!
  • Luxembourg at night
  • Museum in Luxembourg
  • All Saints Day Mass
  • Spending time with my cutie pie Husband

JEERS

  • Gas prices!
  • Weather! Rain!
  • Worthless U.S . dollars exchange

 

Anyways, it was a lovely trip and I feel I thoroughly absorbed Belgium.

Love  from your traveling twosome

~Brooke and Frank~

 

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