Monday, January 19, 2015

Getting to Poland

Mid week, I headed to Poland where Mary would meet up with me on Thursday night.  I flew into Warsaw and by the time I worked my way down to the train station, bought my train ticket for the next day, checked into the hotel, I was ready to be in for the night.  I grabbed some food in the concierge lounge at the Marriott and headed to bed early.  It was a cold, rainy night in a new town and I wasn't too excited to start exploring on my own just yet.

The next morning, I headed back to the train station for my ride to Krakow.  I arrived late afternoon and was able to see some of the countryside along the way.  There wasn't really anything remarkable about the ride that I can currently remember except for the flowers in the cemeteries.  We would pass these little towns and you could see the cemetery as we rolled by.  Every grave stone was marked with what appeared to be fresh, brightly colored flowers.  Every grave.  I wondered if it was a holiday.  At one I even saw a wagon on the road along side the cemetery and it was full of flowers (potentially the ones being replaced).  I later asked a tour guide and he said it was no special holiday, they are just very respectful of the dead and always make sure there are fresh flowers.  It was actually very nice to see. I did not capture a good picture of this though :(.

I got into Krakow late afternoon and hurried to ensure I could find our hotel/hostel while the sun was still out.  It took a little bit of navigating, but I managed to get there.  I also immediately fell in love with Krakow :).  It was November and I was expecting the ugly beginning of winter landscape that doesn't have any snow yet.  However, it had been in the 60's just the week before, so the grass was still so green and some trees still had leaves.  The historic (aka tourist) center of town is full of old buildings and great for walking with a huge central square and castle at the end of the main road.  After tackling check-in, I tried to figure out where to eat.  I didn't wander far and found a place a few doors down that looked cute and seemed not too expensive.  It was a cafeteria style "milk bar" and I over ordered for sure.  More on the milk bars in the next post. Mary got in around midnight and we just caught up and planned out the next day.

The old town is encircled by an old city wall and surrounding the wall is a beautiful park with pedestrian paths (previously it was a moat). Just inside the wall was some street art.

 Here is a 3-D map of the old town with the square in the middle and the castle at the far end.

Here's a view of the square and the long building (now a market) in the middle. 

The pathway up to the castle.

The doors to our hotel/hostel.  We were on the second or third floor and had three twin beds and a bathroom. It was a great location and good for the price we paid.  November is not high tourist season :) so we were able to get some good deals.

Some sun finally came out the morning I left back to Warsaw - here's another view of the square (other side of the market building).

After you walk through old town, the view across the river. Krakow was the capital of Poland at one point in history.  I'll talk more about the history in another post, but it was also often captured throughout history.  It was one of the (if not the) first cities captured by the Germans to start WWII. Warsaw is the current capital.  

There are modern areas as well.  Here they were getting ready for Christmas outside of the large shopping mall.

Map of old town (see the green park encircling it) and the solid blue dot was our hotel.

My dinner the first night :) Some sort of soup, chicken and potatoes along with a side dish of hot cabbage cooked in some way that was new to me.  The chicken was a little dry - but otherwise all very good!!

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