Finally woke up to a bright, bright sun shiny day!
I have steadfastly avoided buying cereal where I live for the fact that I will more than likely eat half a box at a sitting.
I always tell myself I am just trying to use up all the milk, but then I wind up without milk, still a bit of cereal left, add a little more milk… Repeat process.
My friends have a kid so their cupboard had cereal and milk. So much milk; boxes and boxes of delicious cow juice I found in their laundry room.
Unrefrigerated milk, too, which still puzzles me yet I bore no ill effects even after going through a box.
Crunch crunch crunch
Doing some research into the Krakow beer scene, I found an old pub that seemed worth a visit.
Bonus as it was also near where the walking tour of the city heads out. Two birds, one stone!
I elected to walk a path along the Vistula River that lead to downtown. Much more scenic along the river vs. the car, tram heavy street.
The brewery was on the west side so I found the tree covered walkway and enjoyed a shaded walk until I found it.
C.K. Brower wasn’t quite as old as I thought, est. 1996, but it sure looked and felt old as I entered and descended the stairs to the pub below.
At the end of the stairs are long, communal wooden tables on either side of a walkway that lead towards a bar, kitchen area in the back.
Several tables had beer towers sitting on them, a popular option at this place. Essentially mini taps for large groups that were quite a spectacle as well as a relief for wait staff.
I selected an empty table close to the bar. Nearly all of the others were occupied.
I was the lone, solo guy at a table as they didn’t have seats at the bar, this is my least favorite seating option.
Per the menu, the beers are made on site, the original way as they are unfiltered and unpasteurized using local grains.
To my surprise and pleasure this place had large TV’s that were showing a sport I’d never heard of before yet it was an Olympic worthy event: handball.
No surprise that team Poland’s game was on today and I watched perhaps a quarter or period of men throwing a ball to each other and eventually into nets.
While there was a goalie, stopping such a small ball hurled at great speed was very difficult and didn’t happen too often.
I saw many plates of food brought out and pass me by. Lots of sausages, fries and soups are served here.
After my first pint, I selected their dark beer plus borscht, a dish I’d heard about but had never been tempted to get until now.
Here they served borscht the Polish way so it was white broth with a boiled egg and a full sausage. It was pretty good, peppery, I’ll have to try the red version that I had seen and think of whenever someone mentioned borscht.
After finishing my pint, I headed out towards the northeastern part of city centre.
I paused along the route in a park as there was a cool fountain to gaze at and I still had time to burn before the tour began.
To my surprise an army of nuns in grey robes, 10 in number, with a bishop or some other high-ranking man in red appeared around the bend and strode by, shoulder to shoulder, taking up most of the walkable space.
Jesus says share the road!
Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in the world. There were a lot more cathedrals here than I recall seeing in other places on my trip.
I could see two just from my friend’s balcony.
Seeing nuns or priests on the street is a common sight in Poland. I saw a group walking whenever I was out in the city.
Our tour met up on the north part of downtown. As always look for someone lofting up a red umbrella, ella ella ella.
This tour was led by a native of both the country as well as Krakow, which was actually a bit unusual. Most tours were led by people who moved from a rural setting into the bigger city, usually to attend university.
By giving tours they could afford tuition while using their study discipline.
All the tour guides were either history or psychology majors so the joke goes, “I will teach you the history of this place and if you have a crisis about what you’re learning, I’m ready to listen and help you through any breakdowns you experience!”
I joined a small group of people and soon we were in front of a pedestal that had a copper miniature map of the city complete with raised pieces for the taller buildings.
He showed us where we were and where we would be going using this miniature raised copper map of Krakow.
Soon we were in city centre and sure enough, we passed by a Hard Rock Cafe. Another pin for my bro.
We stopped in front of a towering cathedral and the guide talked and stammered a bit, as if he were stalling, waiting.
He glanced at his watch as he told a story about trumpets and how in the military they are used to communicate orders and instructions to the army.
Finally he revealed that he was waiting for the top of the hour when a trumper would appear atop St. Mary’s to play a few notes.
The trumpeter appears in the left tower, top window. Read about the legend here.
Around this time some children sprang on the group banging on drums and tambourines.
“Do not give them money, they are professional beggars and thieves,” our guide instructed to the group.
One of the more messed up and sad realities is their parents knew people are more sympathetic to children so they teach them songs and make them go out and beg all day.
I saw a lot of these ‘homeless’ children playing instruments, crying if you didn’t give them money and generally looking as pitiful and helpless as they could.
Who knows how many were truly orphans or whose parents forced them to beg all day.
Across the square from St. Mary’s was the location where the public executions were held. Be sure to bring the kids, heads rolled here!
Hitler even spoke in this plaza when Nazis occupied the city.
We were told that after Germany invaded they invited all the scholars, Ph D’s, higher education teachers to the city for a conference. Once they arrived, the SS killed everyone in the room. Education is power you see.
We took a break inside an old university, Collegium Maius, that looked straight out of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books. See for yourself.
After a quick break where I got a nice cup of coffee, we went outside the plaza and into the Planty Gardens, the name for the green walkway around city centre.
Previously the gardens were a moat for protection but had been drained in the 1800’s.
As our guide spoke an extremely elderly woman, hand extended, palm opened walked right into my chest. She kept repeating something in Polish so I didn’t understand so I kept saying “No, no.” Everyone seems to understand no in all languages.
She was insistent, even when our guide stopped and began to talk to her she refused to leave until someone put some zloty in her hand.
Our tour continued south passing by more castles, cathedrals and historic spots.
It ended at Wawel, the former royal residence of the Polish monarchy that is now a tourist spot as well as national place of pride.
Yet again it was revealed that there was a DaVinci currently on site which we could see for a separate, expensive fee considering that would be all that we’d see as it was housed in a small room.
Our tour ended with a brief history of the immense cathedral bell that took several people to ring. Only on very special occasions is it rung and could be heard citywide and further.
We were right by the dragon, basically my side of town. Well I knew where we were anyway.
I popped into a wok spot for dinner and a beer and was soon presented one of the spiciest, most delicious noodle meals I’d have on this trip. Not very Polish, but I do love noodles!
It was a good yet sad day as it was my last at my friend’s apartment. They were returning from their trip so I was back to the hostel life.
I was sort of looking forward to it as I hoped to stay around city centre, get a good view of the old city.
Plus I had a couple of days to see my friends.
Beer: CK Brower Jasne
Song: Booker T and the MG’s Something