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Published: August 5th 2009
FRANGIE SIZE PILLOW
Angie needed a pillow and this is what was sent to the room
We spent a good part of last evening trying to decide where we were going this morning. We checked accommodations and train schedules, referring to the web and the Lonely Plant book. The possible choice was to visit the High Tatras Mts or go directly to Krakow, Poland. The problem visiting the mountains was the fact that it was the weekend and all the accommodations on the web were booked. Then if we took the chance of going and trying to find a place then we weren't sure of the local transportation systems and how to get from one village to another in a timely manner without wasting a lot of time.
So in the end it was decided to go straight to Krakow. The train is about 9 hours total, with a change of trains a couple of times. Poland is the country that reminds Angie most of her home state of Ohio. It has farm fields and rolling green hills and large areas of forests. Poland is a beautiful country.
It is a long hot travel day, so we are really glad to finally get to Krakow. We find a hostel called Kadetus that
is right outside the old town. It was only one of the few empty beds left in town for the weekend. The only problem was we had to change rooms every day of the 3 nights we stayed. However it got better as the nights went on. The last night was spent in an apartment that Francine was able to negotiate for around 35 USD each for the room. It had a queen bed and a double sleeper sofa with art on the wall and the size of the room was the size of some of our hostel lobbies. The bathroom was a picture out of Home and Garden Magazine, with white marble walls with brown marble accents.
Our first evening in Krakow was spent taking it easy and planning our tours for the next day.
We have decided to take the tour to the Wielickzka Salt Mines. This place has been mined for over 700 years and is on the UNESCO list. It is still being mined but much has been turned into a tourist site. It is over 327 meters deep and has 9 levels. We only tour to 137m and to the
WIELICZKA SALT MINES
Good for your health
3rd level. It is filled with carved statues of salt and has one very large church and smaller churches throughout the mine. It is a really nice change of pace for sightseeing. It was very commercialized but how many salt mines can a person tour?
After returning for the short drive to the mines we are dropped of in the Old Town in order to take a walking tour. Our guide's name was Gregory and he obviously has some place to go after the tour because he had us running through the town. There were only 4 of us on the tour but that didn't make it any more relaxing or informative. I don't think that I can even remember most of the places we were at, as he had finished his little talk before we were able to catch up with him.
Some of the sites included the Wawel Castle a 10th c royal castle done in Medieval, Romanesque and Baroque styles and was the home to kings for 500 years. It is under total renovations and not visible because of all the scaffolding.
The Sukiennice or the Cloth Hall, was the first shopping center built
WHITE SALT ON FOR THE KING'S COFFERS
In the old days only the King got the white salt the green salt was mined for everyone else.
in the 14th c. but now the lower level has souvenir shops and the upper floor is the National Gallery.
The City Hall Tower has a lean of 55cm. And it was done by a strong wind in 1703. It housed the city dungeon with a torture chamber now has shops.
The city walls were destroyed after 1807 with only a few towers still in existence.
The Basilica of the Holy Virgin Mary has a horn that sounds every hour on the hour and stops in mid call to commemorate the tower guard whose throat was pierced with an arrow as he blew the attack warning on the horn.
The towers do not match because they were built at different times. The interior is quite beautiful. It was built in 1287-1320.
There is also the Basilica of the Holy Trinity built at the beginning of the 12th c. It was destroyed by fire in 1850 and reconstructed. It is unusual to find 2 Basilicas in one city but this is a country where 90% are Catholic.
Collegium Maius (later named Jagiellonski) aka Krakow University and it is one of the oldest surviving colleges and was
established in 1364. Two of it's most famous student where Copernicus and Pope John Paul II.
There are so many things to see and absorb here in just the Old Town, But what we really want is something to eat. So we go to the famous Chocolate House and share a fruit plate with chocolate dip and a chocolate banana pancake. That was our supper.
We do a little window shopping and don't buy a single item.
Back to the hostel for the night. It was a long day.
We are taking the bus to tour Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is little to tell you about this site it is so well known. 1.5 million people died here. They have various displays of items taken from the prisoners. Including, mounds of hair that was sheared from the heads of the women that was spun into thread and rugs were made for resale. Buildings full of shoes, brushes, eyeglasses were among some of the items that were taken from the people before entering the gas chambers.
I hate to report that once again my computer has contracted a virus. It has effected my internet browser
so that I can't access the wi-fi even though it connects. Very frustrating and went to a shop that fixes computers and he didn't have time to look at mine. He said it would take a week. So I am frustrated with the computer issues once again.
Angie uses the computer at the hostel to blog, not easy when you have to stand the entire time to blog when it can take 1-2 hours at the minimum to get one blog out.
Krakow has been a really nice city to visit!
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