Trip Report 2014
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~