No issues checking out, just drop your key in a box, doors lock behind you.
Hardly anyone walking around the streets early in the morning, quite a change from the crowds I’d usually seen gathered.
Soon I was at the Praha hlavní nádraží (man do I enjoy all the accent marks on these letters!)
Rail, bus stations are always active and usually crowded no matter the time of day.
I located my train to Ostrava, a small city close to the Polish border and where I was to hop a bus to take me the rest of the way to Kraków.
Ah sweet relief as I fell into my window seat and watched the city disappear into countryside.
I was soon asleep.
Woke up to very beautiful, green countryside that soon gave way to the city.
We stopped and I had maybe 15-20min to find my bus, a process that is always tense, but especially so when all the signs are in Czech.
Whoever decided to add images to signs will forever be my hero.
Fortunately this was a small depot and I quickly found the bus area.
I stood at where I thought my bus would arrive based on the sign only to see the Krakow bus pass by and stop further down the street.
Buses overseas usually don’t have their destinations lit up on top, but rather they hang a sign on the lower right corner of the windshield with the destination city.
Sometimes the bus made you stow backpacks and this was such an occasion. This is one of many reasons why you need a small bag or satchel on trips.
You can carry needed items like say a water bottle as well souvenirs, snacks, etc.
Not many people heading to Krakow this day so most everyone got seats to themselves.
Gorgeous views as we exited the city and soon we entered Poland!
After awhile we entered the city at a huge rail, bus depot that after walking awhile, I realized the depot was connected to a mall.
That is such a great idea, get off your bus or train to find food, clothes, most anything a person could need after or before a trip.
I ducked into a burrito joint, I know, why there right, but I didn’t see a kielbasas r us or a pierogis haus, nothing that was decidedly Polish.
Happy to report that the burrito I had was very fresh and tasty. I only wished this and other places that try to interpret Mexican food would ease up on the beans.
I ordered a chicken burrito, not a bean burrito with chicken, you know. Had to stop the lady from spooning yet another scoop of what appeared to be ranch style beans.
At least know that if you use beans, they need to be wet, in a liquid vs the pile of dry beans that was my option here.
I walked the mall afterwards and they are very similar to the US malls I’d grown up going to, sometimes willingly, most of the time clothes shopping or worse, for portrait pics.
Clothing stores pumped out modern dance music here, as did shoe stores. No arcade, but they probably don’t have any in the US anymore either.
On one end of the mall was a theater, cinema so that was a universal thing.
About the only thing that really stood out was the amount of coffee kiosks. For sure, there was no reason to wait in line for a coffee, just walk a bit further.
I stopped at one and was amazed at how many employees worked in such a small, not busy kiosk. Every girl did 1 job: take your money, make the coffee, or serve it to you. Plus another girl showed up to pick up the trash and was probably around to help if it got busy.
Made me think about the hectic US places where there was a long line and 1 person doing all the jobs.
Once outside the mall, I entered an enormous courtyard. At the far end was a salt mine tour.
For sure if you want to see an abandoned salt mine, Krakow has you covered. I saw many ads for this one as well as larger mines outside of town.
I located the main road to my friend’s apartment which lead under a bridge then opened into a wonderful park road.
It’s always a good thing to sit on a bench covered by trees to watch car traffic, walkers or in this case, a small girl trying to catch a squirrel.
She was not successful in her endeavor. Her mom chain-smoked on a nearby bench while loudly talking on her cell in Polish.
I followed the wonderful tree-lined road as long as I could before I had to cross the street.
I knew one of my days here would be spent walking the whole garden road, wherever it lead.
There were castles and fortresses on both sides of me on this part of the walk. More exploration options.
It was hot in Krakow, I was sweating. Make fun of me if you want, but I wore hiking pants that unzipped at the knee so I paused on a bench to removed my leggings.
My un-stylish pant option served me very well on this leg of the trip. It was August after all, it was supposed to be hot.
After passing over the tram lines, I was on a business lined street full of coffee shops, convenience stores and food options.
Soon I was at my friend’s apartment where I was buzzed in, took the lift to the 3rd floor and saw my friend.
Earlier in the year one of my former corporate work friend had messaged me about her new life in Poland. Come for a visit if you can she wrote. Haha little did she know 6 months after that invite I would be there.
She was traveling this week, but I knew her husband and he was cool.
We chatted and I filled him in on my trip. I was in a corporate supplied and furnished apartment.
It was super modern place, sleek, exposed pipes, dark hardwood floor. On one wall was old black and white photos artfully arranged into a unique, somehow still in a square pattern.
These photos were totally random shots of fashion models or movie stars. Seemed odd in a family residence, but they couldn’t change it.
They had another room for their son they let me sleep in, and I was super grateful for a bed, especially a bedroom with a door for privacy.
I had arrived around their daily call time so I was able to talk to my friend who was very excited I was there. She was in the US at the moment.
I soon learned they were going to meet up Paris in a few days. To my shock, she said I should just stay there in the apartment for the week. I could house sit.
The husband nodded approvingly, better to have someone here. They were so generous, I was flabbergasted and humbled.
Talk soon turned to food and off we went to a local spot the family frequented.
While tempted to order pierogi, I was assured those indeed were everywhere, including fresh ones sitting in the fridge in the apartment.
I opted for my first taste of white borscht, a soup that is very Polish as it also included kielbasa sausage. Most borscht was beet red outside of Poland.
My entree was pork served with potatoes or latke. A hearty gravy was poured over the dish along with cream. It was very good and rich.
Throughout the course of our dinner I discovered my friend’s family was of Polish decent, his grandparents immigrated to escape the Nazi’s and settled in Ohio.
He had grown up with many of the dishes he ate here regularly and even spoke Polish when he was little, but had forgotten it. He remembered enough to get by, but couldn’t hold a full conversation like he had growing up.
I was shocked when the check came in under 20$. That’s with 2 soups, entrees and beers for 2 people! Dang that’s affordable.
We stepped outside to light rain and I inquired about a neon sign I saw on a couple of apartments.
Turns out those were the massage parlors, aka prostitution rooms. Guys could pay for the company of women. It was not highly recommended for me to check them out.
We popped into a small convenience store and picked up some beer which we enjoyed on their balcony.
The balcony overlooked a courtyard with a couple of churches on either side.
My friend had an early morning at work so he soon retired, but not before inviting me to taco Tuesday with his co-workers the next evening.
I sipped a beer, watching the rain fall from the balcony before I retired for the evening.
Song: Władysław Szpilman Little Overture
Beer: Tyskie Gronie