Dream trip Day 90 Mo rain, Indian food, Irish pub

Only 1 of my friends had been to Warsaw and when I asked for a food recommendation, it was Indian. Curry it up brother.

It was just as well, as rain was again forecasted. I needed an indoor option anyway.

The route did have a green path through a lovely green park plus I passed a Polish war memorial.

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All too soon it began to sprinkle, thunder. Due to construction, I had to take a circuitous route to cross the street but I had made it just as it really started to rain.

I was at Bombaj Masala and it wasn’t too crowded, to my delight. Table for 1. Bring   some naan!

I sat at my table and watched heavy rain pelt cars as they sat at a light, waiting for it to change.

Overall a good, hot meal on a cool rainy day. I had to linger a bit with a cup of tea to fully wait the rain out.

I was in the downtown business district, full of tall buildings, car rental companies, not a lot of fun or very scenic.

At least I had the park and memorial to check out on my way back. I took a bit longer to fully take in the freshly watered trees and foliage

I suddenly had a strange urge to walk along the river, it was the Vistula here, too, as it’s the longest river in Poland.

I walked a bit past the restaurant area where I see a bridge off to the left a ways, so I figure that should lead to the river as that, too, was visible in the distance.

I walked about a half mile to the end of the bridge occasionally seeing stairs leading below to neighborhoods, but no river.

The strange thing is there was an entertainment area with a diner, bar and grocery store, but there wasn’t stairs near here.

Sometimes I would pass by a person walking the other direction and would have a small moment of panic that I was walking the wrong way on the bridge. or maybe I needed to be on the other side?   This time I should have known better and off to jail I’d go.

I was soon out of bridge so I took the next set of stairs down. There wasn’t any lights on my path down, which made it scary for many reasons.

There was another major road with concrete barriers blocking my way. I didn’t see any sort of crossing path. I was trapped.

All that walking and no river to show for it. I did see a large part of the city, the neighborhoods so it wasn’t really a total wast of a trip.

I knew to wait for the little green man when crossing the street to old town. I passed by the Chopin church too. I’d walked past it several times already and not known.

Tonight I would check out an Irish pub only a couple blocks from the hostel.

Live music tonight too, full band rocking out some sweet, sweet CCR, Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes amongst other 70’s rock gems!

A rowdy bunch out tonight, mostly older couples. They were singing along at top volume as well as dancing.

This one couple especially was getting down, he spun her all over that small dance area. He wasn’t a fit bloke either, had that old may beer belly that was more pronounced as he tucked his shirt tightly into his pants.

There was no room at the bar so I would come in for a new pint, then sit outside near a window and listen to the band. The smokers provided some outdoor entertainment.

Soon the band ended and last call was made.

I sauntered back to my hostel, stopping to admire the moon. Don’t forget to look up at night, always a good view.

Beer: Belfast stout

Song:  Chopin  Nocturne C sharp minor

 

 

 

Dream trip day 89 Chopin’s heart, walking tour, policja warning

I learned why this hostel was so inexpensive: no food or bevs provided.

That was ok, there was a breakfast only spot next door. Omelette time.

No jalapenos, no assortment of hot sauces on the table, just salt and pepper. Perhaps you could get some Hungarian paprika, but that was it.

I was seated facing the walkway so I had to make eye contact sometimes. If I was sipping coffee, I may nod my head to them, but not whilst eating.

Weird being on display while eating, like I need extra pressure to eat properly. I often drop a fork full of food or miss my mouth entirely.

Back at the hostel, I scoped their pamphlet rack for tours. I found a free one close that was starting soon.

I cannot recommend enough to go on a free walking tours if you are in a foreign city. You get a nice walk as well as local history. Just give them a tip for their time.

Look for the red umbrella ella ella ella. They were near a large statue of a bearded guy, King Sigismund III Vasa, which was the 1st thing we learned on our walk.

Soon we were near a bell inside a small square. Legend has it that if you walk around the bell 3x you get a wish.

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We soon passed by Marie Curie’s laboratory, mermaid statue before being shown another square.

We looked left and right, nearly the entire city had been leveled in WWII, but they had architecture maps and completely rebuilt everything exactly as it was.

The old city was now one of the most sought after places to live in the city. So much so that someone build out the air in narrow alleyway and made it into a house. A space as narrow as a door slowly grew from a hallway into a  small, livable area.

A fascinating part of the tour was about one of the gates into the city.  Built at an angle that forced anyone entering to have to pass through a narrow alley, which is where they were assaulted by arrows.

This plan was great until you had to get back in and the city was fought over several times, each one using this gate to their advantage.

We went through the Jewish ghetto, an all too common place in most European cities. We paused at one of the standing parts of the wall.

The KL Warschau was in the city and was used as a detention place as well as an elimination camp first starting with the Jews, then Polish resistance fighters.

We paused at some benches that our guide told us to sit down, enjoy some Chopin, which played as you sat.

“Nobody loves Chopin like the Polish, well except the French, they kept his body! Haha, but some brave Poles cut his heart out before they buried him. So his body is in France, but his heart returned to Poland,” our guide explained to the sounds of a Chopin sonata.

We were instructed to visit a church down the road where Chopin’s heart resides to this day.  Read up on it here.

For the rest of my time in the city, every chance I could get I sat on a Chopin bench.

Dusk was falling so I walked the restaurant area in search of  food options.

I don’t know what I thought everyone ate, but a lot did seem to be influenced by the US. Burgers, pizza, coffee shops, all seemed to be trying to emulate a US chain.

Then again, I was in the tourist side of town, so perhaps they were catering to us?

Dark clouds formed, soon it was pouring rain. I was still over a half mile from my hostel, I needed shelter, fast.

Fortunately I was near a beer hall so that’s where holed up to wait out the rain.

It was a nice, old wooden hall with a long bar and many taps. It was a beer menu type place with lots of taps and bottles.

Since it was a weekday, there was hardly anyone there. The bartender did not seem too excited to even wait on me so talking to him was out. He was on his phone already anyway.

I sat down at a table and took off my wet hoodie. Rain beat on the windows, I was in for awhile it seems.

Rain didn’t let up so no one else came in.

After a couple hours it was merely sprinkling so I felt it best to head back to the hostel.

I got to a normally busy intersection, but due to the late hour, I saw no cars on this road.

I see the light favors the road and not me so I look both ways, other lights flashing, no cars, yet this one is on.

Why not cross? I thought as I put one foot in front of the other.

I was soon descended upon by 2 Polish army guys in green fatigues and black Berets. One holds an automatic weapon across his chest. Faster than I could perceive it, this guy could shoot me as close as we are to each other. He stands about 6’4 and has a scowl on his face.

His partner to my right pulls out a pad of paper and begins talking in Polish. I shake my head left to right, no. “English?” I venture.

“Ah yes, English? Why did you cross the street?’ he asked.

“Because it was clear, no cars, I knew I would make it, ” I replied.

“Yes, but the lights were flashing, this is a prohibitive action. Do you realize I can and should take you in?” he said sternly.

I now had my hands up and stated I would pay any fines while apologizing to them.

I think they got pissed because I did it in front of them but I didn’t see them until it was too late, I was halfway. They were in the dark to my left and had to cross a street to stop me.

“Passport, papers please,” came the terse response.

He seemed surprised I was American and briefly glanced at my passport before handing it back to me.

“Yes so we are allies, Poland and the US. I thought you were British. They do that a lot when they are here. Illegally crossing the street and so on. So…we are all done here.” He said with a big grin, matched by his gun wielding friend.

We talked about the city, what I had seen. They seemed pleased I had been to Krakow, which is a nice city but, Warsaw that is best Polish city!

I am still not sure if they were messing with me, taking a piss, having a go. Whatever their reasons, I was scared for sure.

Jail for a simple offense like jaywalking is crazy but that’s how some places roll. I thought it as simple as I am adult and can handle my own safety.

I was also a visitor here, they didn’t have to let me into their country, for sure not for free. I was lucky.

A bit of a restless night but I did wind up falling asleep eventually.

Beer:  Pale Blue Dot

Song: Frederic Chopin     Prelude no. 15 ‘Raindrop’ op. 28

 

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Dream trip Day 88 Train, bus, hello Warsaw

I woke up, showered and scoped the common room of the hostel. Only a couple people and I didn’t feel like having instant coffee so I walked next door.

I got a cinnamon roll like pastry with my cup of coffee. Plus I asked for mleko in it, a bit of milk. Thanks google translate! Now I can make ladies in other countries laugh at my failed attempt at speaking their language. 

Sitting on a bench in front of a church I read over the many posters that gave brief history of pope John Paul II history with Poland, Krakow. The current pope had been in town a few weeks prior to my visit.

He grew up in Krakow, I learned, and he spoke 12 languages! Damn overachiever, haha that is totally amazing and no doubt helped him as a pope.

Next to me was the ever present pigeon feeder, flinging bread all over to a happy flock of birds.

I am annoyed by pigeons and wish we could get them under control in cities. They shit everywhere and that has to effect people’s health. I envisioned a sound gun or something that would disable them so you can capture the birds, which are then cooked and given to the homeless (provided that downtown pigeon meat is safe to eat). Perhaps the feathers could be used to make pillows for the homeless too.

I soon had to collect my things in order to checkout on time or else face a fine.

It wasn’t very far to the mall, train depot plus I had time so I casually strolled under the bridge and through the mall. Even went upstairs to check out the 2nd floor.

The train depot was small so locating my track was easy. I even selected the correct car and seat!

We pulled out from the station and once again, rolling green fields and countryside appeared. So beautiful.

Not a long train ride either, about 4 hours.

According to the map app I use, there was a cool sounding hostel about a 2 mile walk through the city in the old town. This is a great way to see the lay of the land.

Through an industrial section gave way to a small restaurant area, before a park was near. Always take the route that goes through a park or green area when in another city even if it is a little bit out of your way.

I soon was in a green area that suddenly had houses and businesses. There was an open gate ahead though it seemed like I was about to go into someone’s backyard, I walked through to a narrow street full of shops, eateries.

About a mile long I’d say, different ethnic cuisines on either side of the street.

Warsaw was very affordable, especially compared to Zurich. Spend 2 days in Zurich or 5 in Warsaw is about the comparison. I also just noticed you cannot spell Zurich without rich, ZuRICH.

I found that probably the best thing one can do shortly after checking in somewhere is to get a shower in. Scope the scene and get clean, then whilst air drying you can orientate yourself with the city.

Tonight I had a hankering for noodles, so I took off on an ill fated journey as the place I selected seemed to be inside a mall or behind a door I missed. I walked the dadgum block all the way around, couldn’t find it.

I settled on another noodle joint I randomly passed by and it was pretty good. Then again, I really enjoy noodles.

I walked back to my side of town as the sun went down. Always a good idea to be somewhat close to your dwelling when in a unknown city near dark.

In the oldest part of town was the Elephant Belgium Pub, so I took a slight trip back to one of my favorite countries.

The spectacle here was outside. Cobblestone streets, no cars, full band buskers, you name it, they were on display here.

I alternated views from a fubol match on one side in the pub to the street view from the window.

I sauntered home after a couple pints. Traveling by train sure wears you out for some reason.

Song: David Bowie  Warszawa

Beer: Space Sheep

 

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Dream trip Day 87 Brunch, last night in Krakow

Another lovely morning, another free hostel breakfast. That means cereal, grains, breads…all carbs.

It also meant hot, instant coffee with milk. Not good, but does the job of helping to wake you up.

I was seated at a table with several people, but they paid me no mind. Why would they, a guy was holding court with stories about his travels

It sounded like the dude had been most everywhere and had an amazing story to go along with it. I hoped to be able to match his tales one day.

As I recall, one tale involved drinks with attractive girls, but he seemed to be more impressed with the inexpensive liquor vs. the ladies as he kept bringing up how much each bev cost.

“Yo I bet we could get a whole bottle over there for what we pay for a drink over here!” he exclaimed several times.  What about those ladies!? How about the music at least?

I was soon out the hostel and out onto the tourist ave.

Today brought human statues into the usual busker, beggar mix. It had to have taken hours to put on all the clothes and make up.

I met my friend at her apt and we took the path along the river to a bridge that went over to the other side.

We talked about life in Poland and how different it was on most basic tasks. Take banking, or shopping over here.

Pretty much cash is used everywhere. Some places still don’t have a card machine much less an ATM. You go to the bank before going shopping, it takes some getting used to since we use a card for pretty much everything. Some places in the US don’t take cash.

We were on our way to forum przestrzenie, a rather ominous building that used to be a watchtower over that part of the city back in the communist days.

It had stood empty awhile before a company ventured to buy it and install a nice coffee shop, brunch spot inside. Perestroika boys.

Once inside, the place felt oddly like an auditorium, gymnasium. It seemed they moved all the furniture at night and held athletic events here.

It was fashioned like a modern coffee shop also equipped with a sammitch station and small bar.

I recalled seeing a handmade poster for a rock show on a wall near the restroom and wished I could have gone. It was to be held in a VA type building in town. Very homemade poster, shitty design, they probably played loud and fast!

We talked freelance jobs between soup and sandwiches. There are so many ways to make a living, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open.

We soon parted ways, her to a meeting and me to wander around the city one final night.

I felt the best option was to walk around the city via the greenbelt, the former moat.

I paused several times, sitting on a bench to enjoy a fountain, watch kids play or listen to one of the performers squeeze an accordion or strum a stringed instrument.

Sundown lead me back to the river, the Vistula. I’ve read that all great cities are built near water. Add Krakow to this list.

I had no idea about Krakow or what Poland was really about until this trip. In my mind it was just the country where John Paul II was from which was a big deal everywhere, but I never got what the big deal was. Having walked the streets, I get it, this is a small country population wise. They are very Catholic, rule following people, he was their hometown boy done good story.

I was also to learn of the horrific past that Krakow and Poland faced both during the Wars and the Communist recovery. The country had been much larger before the wars but after each, more and more was cut away. They had been occupied for decades, unable to self govern.

They needed someone, a hero perhaps, someone positive because it was mostly bad news for decades.

Reality hit me and I came to sitting on a bench watching 2 homeless guys argue about something when one of them grabbed his walking stick and swung away as the other ran, right into some bushes.

Ah yes here I am, Krakow, Poland, EU, Earth.

After the sun went down, I strode over to the House of Beer, a bit excited to see what would happen, yet a bit melancholy since it was my last night in town.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened, usual scene of people having a good time. In one corner some were playing trivia, laughing at no doubt clever answers.

There were a few window seats where the table was a big barrel and these were where the couples sat.

I was once again seated at the bar, watching people pour beer, set bottles and glasses on trays and especially stand in a corner to check their phones for messages or maybe to see how many likes their post received.

I had a couple pints and then left just before midnight.

Walking around a city at night is one of my favorite pastimes. Finally you can see the whole city square, no crowds of people blocking a view. No buskers or beggars to fight off.

Sure, night time was the prime time for robberies so I was on guard. As is usual, you’ll  turn a corner to see a dark route due to a light burned out.

Don’t go down dark streets at night kids, pro tip. There is usually another lighted way to wherever you are going.

I unlocked the gate to my hostel an walked upstairs to my bed.

Tomorrow I was off to Warsaw, Warszawa, the capitol of Poland.

 

Song:  MGMT  Electric Feel

Beer:  400!

Dream trip Day 86 Zapiekanka, rain, more piwo

Hello rain my old friend, it’s good to see you once again…not!

This type of rain was ok, brief sprinkle of rain, dark, cloudy overcast day with intermittent sprinkles.

As my hostel was in a heavy tourist area, there were many shops and eating places very close by.

I selected a pastry spot a couple of doors down, seemed the best place to get some coffee.

Croissant and coffee to start the day the European way. It was the way I did most mornings in Europe anyway.

After a nice cup and bread I sauntered down tourist st. Kids played accordion, guitar, even a guy wearing a horse mask played keyboards. A sign prominently placed indicated tips were to buy his lady an engagement ring. He was good, too.

Back towards my old neighborhood, as it were, the part of town I’d spent the past week in.

We took the tram over to the east side of town, in search of a yoga studio my friend wanted to start going to.

What is hard is to remember the name of the stop especially in another language, cause you’re fairly certain how to pronounce it but you are wrong when you hear it pronounced correctly.

No muck ups this go round, we got out at the correct stop. A few turns and we were in an area that a yoga studio should be in.

A bust on the studio, seems it is closed but she wanted to check out a session, ask some questions.

We made our way around the area for a bit, stopping here and there, going into stores.

Lunch was at a food stalls. A bunch of small businesses shared a small area selling hot dogs, sausages, fries and huge long, open face sandwiches.

We had big, delicious sandwiches called zapiekanka which summoned kids to our table asking for zloty the whole time we ate.

These sandwiches were flaky bread (closer to a cracker or toast), a meat and melty cheese. Seems they place these under a broiler to finish them off. So good.

My friend wound up giving half her sandwich to a kid. You got 1 whole sandwich but served open face, so 2 bits of toast.

Soon after she had a meeting to get to so I was on my own again.

I just sat down near a busy street and watched walkers pass by. I saw dads hoisting kids onto their shoulders. Held them aloft so they could walk on the air. Ladies pushing strollers, causally smoking long cigarettes.

Looping around to the east side, I encountered the ornate gate that was once one of the few ways into the city. I’m always amazed that a lot of places I visited were actually forts.

Completely walled, few entrances, moat, lookout points. Maybe a trebuchet was in use at one point in this place’s past.

The battles that took place, here, the arrows, cannonballs flying around, swords. Yes perhaps sword battles!

I once again hit up House of Beer. This time I went straight to their basement. This was a 2 story experience as each bar had its own, unique beer selection.

I took the final seat at the bar and ordered a pint.

Tonight the staff was on display. Several afternoon gals drank and smoked incessantly while chatting up the bartender as well another waiter guy.

Something had happened, someone had messed up it seemed due to the rising volume of the ladies’ voices. My takeaway though I do not speak Polish.

The waiter guy would come in and their voices would get louder then when he left the lowered to hushed tones. The guy had done something to get them talking. It was fun trying to figure it out.

Aside from the ladies, there was a TV with futbol on, but due to being several feet underground, no wifi.

Closing time was soon upon us, yet I still didn’t know what our boy, the waiter, had done. If only I’d spoke Polish!

A short walk away was both my hostel as well as the green path. For some reason I chose to sit for a moment in the dark path.

I don’t know what I was looking for, but I found the standard riff raff. A couple bums were arguing, another was snoring on a nearby bench.

So little separates us from these people, the homeless, the mostly ignored.

I sauntered down the alley to my hostel,

Beer: Pale Blue Dot

Song: the xx  Intro

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Dream trip day 85 Parklife, hostel issues, dinner with friends

I woke up and stripped my sheets, placing them into the washer. I wanted to make things as easy as possible for my friends’ return.

Since my trip, I have used a couple washer/dryer machines as they are very prevalent overseas and they scare me. Water and electricity don’t mix! I am concerned water will leak in while drying or not fully drain and fry me.

If I recall correctly, you can actually just set it and forget it for a couple hours, returning to washed and dried clothes.

I also wiped the counters down as well as running a broom around the place, just to make sure I got any crumbs.

Years earlier on a family trip to Colorado, before we left, my family picked up and straightened things at a cabin lent to us by a work friend. At the time I was all bent out of shape helping, presuming that since we paid $, why wouldn’t that also include cleaning?

Now, as I am older, I get it because most of the people on this planet have that same mindset so in order to set yourself apart as well as show gratitude, you clean.

Always take a few moments to make things better than how you found them. If only more people had that attitude, oh what a better, at least cleaner world it would be!

Hey, I was a dumb kid who disliked cleaning his room. Only now do I realize the benefit of the trait I call ultimate laziness: if you put things where they go the 1st time, you don’t have to deal with them again!

Leaving clothes and dishes out you’ve got to touch and do stuff with them multiple times so just put them away from the beginning!

I enjoyed another bowl of cereal after my chores, which I must confess to actually enjoying having not really had to clean up in a long time. Its the strangest things I missed like household chores, cooking, whilst on my trip.

On my way out, I got lost looking for the recycling bin, which I was told it was in the basement, but it wasn’t readily apparent which of the many doors to open once I arrived to the basement.

Fortunately a lady appeared and I was able to hold up the bag of recycling and she laughed and opened a door while saying something in Polish.

Saying thank you in Czech and Polish is close enough or perhaps I butcher them enough so that people understand so I said thank you in Pol-Czech with a wave.

I decided to check out the park again whilst I killed time waiting for the 3 o’clock check in at my new hostel.

Once I finished ascending the stairs, things looked different and felt different, too.

There were tents set up inside the park so I sauntered over to see what was going on.

It looked like a normal event as they there were food trucks set up selling food and beverages as well as tents selling handmade goods.

I got a coffee and sat down to watch families pass by or stop to get food, all of which was vegan or vegetarian.

Many families sat on the grass to watch musicians and dancers perform, sitting on large blankets.

My gaze was drawn to a drum circle that took place on the asphalt parking lot next to the tents and benches.

I’d encounter the same group in Brussels. They weren’t Krishnas, no long rat tails with shaved heads, but they did have a repetitive chant like those guys except it was an actual song with many words, not just saying ‘Hare Krishna’ ad nauseam.

They had drums and guitars, everyone sang and some danced. A very fine brunette joined in on the gyrations and caught my eye so I watched the group until they finished their song.

I shall try to describe the dance moves because it seems like a dance battle. Each one places an arm, leg where the other’s appendage once was, but they try not to touch in basically the same time as the music . It’s awkward to say the least but they really are into this dance.

After the dances finished, I faintly heard music so I followed the sounds. I soon encountered a line of people as well as metal barricades set up.

Not knowing what was up, I was soon stopped by a guard who yelled in Polish, then English, “Ticket? No, entry.” While he pointed to the line of people.

One of guys in the queue volunteered that there was a concert that night and they were waiting to get in to the heart of the park where they had set up a stage.

I circled back to the park entrance to see lots of people leaving the tram, all headed towards the park. I’m not sure how I missed such a huge concert so close to where I was staying, it would have been cool to check it out.

Noting the time, I popped back in to the apartment for one final idiot check for missing items as well as ensuring the sheets where dry.

All set, I strapped my backpacks on and headed to city centre, to the Rock n Roll Hostel.

I walked along a path that was across the street from the Wawel Castle, on a street I decided to nickname tourist avenue as this was the place where I saw groups of all sized with matching shirts announcing they were on a family trip or bachelor party.

This is such a monumentally bad idea, to broadcast to everyone that you have no idea where you are at, how to find where you are going and that you likely had a lot of €.

I also encountered more children playing instruments, dancing, or just crying for sweet, sweet money.

I was soon at my hostel where I rang the bell and went up some stairs to the reception desk, usually staffed by either a very pretty lady or skinny dude with long hair and a long beard.

Today I was greeted by several pretty ladies who gave me the bad news, they were booked for the weekend. Damn.

Totally my fault, I should’ve sucked it up and paid the booking fee.

Close by was another hostel and they greeted me warmly with a bed for a few days. I was staying basically in old town Krakow, close to lots of activities.

Just after I settled in, my friend texted me asking if I wanted to join them for dinner and of course I was in.

I worked with my friend Lauren for a couple years, but I hadn’t seen her in over a year so I wanted to hear about her trips as much as she wanted to hear about mine.

We had a nice home cooked meal, something all of us had missed out on whilst we were traveling.

They had just returned from Paris, exploring the sites, foods and one of the Disney parks. I can’t keep up on what make one a Land vs. a World. There is one near Paris tho.

If you lived in Europe, traveling is so much more fun, cheap and quick, too!

Even in Krakow, fairly eastern Europe, they were only a couple hours flight from many countries, cities of interest.

They frequently took off on weekend jaunts monthly to very cool places.

We filled each other in on our many trips and adventures until it was their kid’s bedtime.

Plans for made for lunch the next day and I hit the streets in search of beer, piwo.

My search was brief, I mean, any place named “House of Beer” is a no brainer.

I stayed upstairs as this was my first visit and I immediately knew I’d be back to explore their basement bar.

Whilst sitting at the bar, they played music softly and I soon found myself nodding along to a song when suddenly the bass hit. Ah ha I’d heard this one a lot of my trip.

Acting quickly I pulled out my phone and finally knew who sang this haunting tune: Tove Lo.

I sipped my pint and let the music take me away. Twas yet another great day on the road, in Krakow.

Beer: Space Sheep

Song: Tove Lo  Habits (Stay High) Hippie Sabotoge Remix

Dream trip Day 84 C.K. Brower, Olympic handball, walking tour

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 schnitzel 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 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!

Polish 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 not an unusual 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 history majors, most also had a degree in psychology 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 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.

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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 truely orphans or whose parents forced them to beg all day.

Across the square from St. Mary’s was the location where the public executions where held. Be sure to bring the kids, heads rolled here!

Hitler even spoke in this plaza when Nazis occupied the city, country.

We were told that after Germany invaded they invited all the scholars, PhD’s, higher educations teachers to the city for a conference. Once they arrived, the SS killed everyone in the room. You see, education is power.

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.

Previoulsy the gardens were a moat for protection but had been drained in the 1800’s.

As our guide spoke an extremly 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 insistant, 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 onsite which we could see for a seperate, 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 thus 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 spicies yet 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 days to see my friends.

Beer: CK Brower Jasne

Song: Booker T and the MG’s  Something

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