Hello from Poland!
Currently, we are staying at the Atlantis Hostel in Krakow, Poland, a lovely little city in Southern Poland with a lot to do.
We got here late Monday evening/ early Tuesday morning (depending on how you want to think about it) by train. On our first real day here (Tuesday), we did the following: created our own walking route up to the top of the Royal Road, passing by the Dominican Church, Maly Rynek Square, and a big pretty theater that we still don’t know the name of. We then made our way to the top of the Royal Road, starting at the Florian Church. We walked down through Matejki Square, past the Barbican, through the Florian Gate (the start of Old Town), through Stare Miesto (the main market square), St. Mary’s Church, Cloth Hall, the Town Hall Tower (and the sculpture of the severed head at its base), Grodzka St., the Church of St. Peter and Paul, St. Martin’s Church, and St. Andrew’s Church. We then made our way up Wawel Hill to look at the castle and to create our own fairy princess story (about ourselves of course). We stopped at an authentic Polish restaurant for some lunch and ordered some random things off the menu- ended up with cheese pierogis, pork goulash with dumplings, and french fries (which later made Zaina sick, but, alas, she survived). Later that night, for some din din, we found these delicious pizza bread thingies that the Polish seem to love. They are large toasted half-baguettes, covered in a mushroom sauce with cheese on top. Then, on top of that, they put whatever your little heart desires. Charlotte had some sausage and pickles with ketchup on hers. Zaina had ham with ketchup and mayo. Then, we had a beer at Alchemia, a super cool sorta famous bar in Nowy Square. Then, as part of the Jewish Culture Festival currently taking place here in Krakow, we went and saw an AMAZING kezmer/ punk/ yiddish folk band (chock full of accordian, brass instruments, and an upright bass), called Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird, play at the Temple Synagogue. Whew! Busy day.
On our second day here, Wednesday, we took another homemade walking tour through Kazimierz, the old Jewish neighborhood. We saw a bunch of synagogues, the Old Synagogue, the Remuh Synagogue, and the Old Jewish Cemetary. In the Cemetary, there is a wailing wall, a wall comprised of a mosaic of bits of tombstones found in the cemetary following the Nazi evacuation. The Nazis used the cemetary as a garbage dump during WWII. It was incredibly sad, but a beautiful space. Following this, we went over to Bagel Mama’s for some tuna melt/ BLT bagels (Poland is the home of the bagel, of course). We then made our way back up to Wawel Castle to look at the different stuff there (since we got there too late the day before). We saw the Dragon’s Den, complete with a statue of a dragon at the end that breathes fire every so often. It took Zaina a few tries to get a photo of it breathing fire, but she got it eventually. We also toured the Cathedral and climbed the bell tower to have a look at Sygmund’s Bell and at Krakow from way above. This was the cathedral that Pope John Paul II presided at prior to becoming the Pope (we think, don’t hold us to that). We got to take a look at the crypts within the cathedral as well; they contained the tombs of much of the Polish royalty from years ago, as well as some poets and writers. Ate more Polish pizza bread for dinner, Charlotte had chicken, bacon, tomatoes, and chives, with Amerikanski sauce (kind of like Thousand Island Dressing), Zaina had a mexican one with corn, olives, cheese, red peppers, ketchup, and mexikanski sauce (sort of a hot sauce). Sat in Nowy Square with some ice cream and people watched for a LONG time, headed over to Funky Music Bar for a drink, then came home to do laundry and hit the sack. WHEW! Another, long day.Side note: We also met our new hostel roomie, a 74 year old man, originally from India, but currently residing in London. He is a courier between London and Poland. He speaks 8 languages, has lived in 8 or 9 countries, and has visited 67 countries. He was incredibly interesting. Too bad he’s a bigot (hates young people, Polish people, dirty people, all people).
Today, we woke up early this morning to go out to Auschwitz/ Birkenau. Incredibly moving experience, but you have to see it for yourself to understand. Came back to Krakow and grabbed some pretty gross hot dog/ kebab lunch, checked on trains for Budapest (as we are heading there tomorrow morning), and came home. Tonight, we are doing a pub/ club crawl, as we’ve yet to do one and we figure that this is a good place to do it because it only costs about $8.
Backtrack: The last few days in Prague, we continued to do pretty much nothing. We did go to the TV tower. We did go by the Old Jewish Cemetary. We did go to the John Lennon Memorial Wall. We did not do any of the other things we said we would do. We were too tied up sleeping and drinking. Oops. That’s ok, because we made up for it with busy Krakow days. We miss Prague like crazy, and have therefore started planning a trip there for either Zaina’s spring break or in June of next year. Also, Zaina will move to Prague. So be ready for it. She fell head over heals in love. It may have shoved New York aside for her. Zaina will be dragging Charlotte to Prague when she moves there.
Housekeeping: Requests for photos? Currently no method of uploading, but we will do it ASAP. Also, you can leave comments now!!! Thank you, Mr. Kevin.
I think that’s all for now. But, let us leave you with this piece of advice: It is recommended that you visit Zurich (if only for a day or 2), Amsterdam, PRAGUE (but hold off your visit until Charlotte and Zaina move there), and Krakow. You will not be disappointed.
Lots o’ love,
Zaina and Charlotte