We made it home yesterday after an exhausting journey. L fell into fits of hysterical screaming on the flight from Munich to Charlotte, and there was mumbling about the plane regarding it — as well as a few comments swirling around our heads while we stood in the passport control line. The temptation to say something was great, but I decided to keep it a win-lose situation (i.e., we win, acting like adults; they lose, acting like children) instead of descending into a useless argument, for there was no win-win situation in sight as tired as we all were.
The trip was exhausting, but we had wonderful memories to keep up our spirits, including two days in the most magnificant (and second most expensive) city in Polska, Krakow.
The first thing we noticed, coming by bus, was the new shopping center cum bus stop. When we left in 2005, it looked like this:
Three years — and a surprising amount of initiative — later:
The old bus station was a testament to the hideous nature of Communist architecture, and it was torn down before I even knew it had been slated for demolition. “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a couple of hours in that old place now,” I told K.
Also victim of the renovation was the “Dragon Bar” (“Bar Smok”), a milk bar across the street from the old bus station. Filthy does not begin to describe it, and once again, I find myself wishing for a 4gb memory card and a day to photograph it.
As we made our way to the rynek, we noted that some things had mercifully not changed. The opera house still greets visitors after they emerge from the passage under Westerplatte Street.
And the corner of Pijarska and Planty streets still looks the same:
We finally made it to the rynek, where L seemed just as amazed as everyone else is they first time they emerge from Florianska Street onto Krakow’s enormous square:
We fed the pigeons,
had a latte,
and watched the people around us. Some were trying to get the best shots with classic Russian equipment:
Some were simply passing through:
After a short break, we headed inside the Basilica of St. Mary — what I’d bought the 10-20mm for:
I’d brought a tripod in order to try to get some shots to combine into HDR, but I was kindly informed during my final shot of my first series that tripods were not allowed.
I’m always amazed with the beauty of such places.
And I’m glad the Church so wisely followed Jesus’ command to feed the starving, clothe the poor, and build ridiculously big churches.
We headed down Grodzka Street toward Wawel castle
Finally, exhausted, we fell into a cafe for some rest, respite from the sun (L was fussy and sweaty), and, most importantly, a chance to meet up with some of our dearest friends, Kuba and Maja:
We spent our last New Year’s Eve in Polska with K & M in Hel, a little port town at the tip of a long finger of land into the Baltic Sea.
Maja — the “maja” of comments here — has been eager to meet the girl for some time, and they hit it off immediately:
The initial excitement of our reunion finally calmed (M was bouncing off the walls with joy!), we all continued down Grodzka Street
to Wawel, the royal castle
Finally, the Girl had had enough, and so we headed out of Krakow
to a little town on the city’s outskirts, where K’s brother, D, lives.
We had grilled sausage to accompany a wonderful evening of reminiscing and talking about the “realities” of life in America.
When D saw the wonders of a SLR camera’s bulb setting, he took me to a place to get some night shots of Krakow.
Sadly, there was too much light from the street lights to get good shots, but that fact did lead to this:
Thus ended our first day in Krakow.
Our second day was much slower and shorter. It included a walk in the park surrounding the old town,
and K taking a few more shots.
It ended in the old Jewish section of town, at an outside cafe, where still more friends came to meet us.
And thus our not-quite-two weeks in Polska came to an end.
More reflections — not to mention pictures — later.
This post is part of the thread: Polska 2008 – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.