Street Tram Krakow
Professor Bob is a dynamo. He has been rushing around arranging things to make our stay in Lublin comfortable and enjoyable, even though we weren’t energetic enough to take full advantage of his plans. Now we have decided on taking the bus from Lublin to Krakow, even though he believes we would be more comfortable on the train. He has done everything for us, including calling the company to ask whether there will be air conditioning 🙂
Not only that, he has come to see us off at the bus station – which is really just an asphalted area behind the daily market stalls. He has brought with him a basket of goodies for the trip: salami, bread, fruit, cakes and chocolate ( we are still trying to finish it all days later).
Horse and carriage, dressed up Krakow style
We already know that it will be a mini bus with a single row of seats on one side, and a double row on the other side. When the bus pulls in, people cluster around, pushing to be on board first, even if they still have to buy a ticket. The driver calls out for Internet ticket holders and we look at each other “Was that us?” – but Bob is already on the bus. He has scooted his wiry body through the crowd, elbows out, and claimed the best four seats up front for us :-).
Cloth Hall Krakow, partial view
We expected the trip to take five hours. It takes the best part of the day to reach our destination, driving through flat land which does not hold our attention. We amuse ourselves one way or another, occasionally taking notice of wheat being harvested, or grass pastures being raked up. Occasional rain squalls wash through, a small relief from the very hot weather we have been experiencing. The small bus shakes and rattles worse than the night train from Prague, and we are tossed around in our cramped seats. At least, though, the suitcases are in the luggage hold and do not need to be touched again until we arrive in Krakow.
Cloth Hall Krakow – interior is now mostly souvenir shops
Finally we pull into Krakow around an hour late, and wouldn’t you know it – the driver cannot get the sliding door of the bus open. That doesn’t stop people standing up and crowding against each other to get out. The four of us stay in our seats, we don’t know where the others think they are going. The driver is outside the bus pulling away at the door without any luck. Then he comes back into the bus and tries jiggling the locking mechanism up and down, before going outside to try to open the door again. Nothing is working. Then he tried going at it with a screwdriver. Still nothing. He and the closest passenger keep trying to flick and bang away at the mechanism. All the while other passengers are standing and butting their heads against the roof. It looks as if we will be here for some good time, and then suddenly the catch releases.
Market square Krakow
So we have another travel adventure story to add to out store for dinner party conversation, and before too long we are comfortably set up in our two bedroom apartment in Krakow. True to form, Waddy has us right in the centre of the action, this time just a short walk from the main central market square that is dominated by the Cloth Hall, a long arched structure that today houses mostly souvenir shops.
It looks as if Professor Bob has been spreading his magic, many sculptures and monuments in Krakow have inscriptions in Braille
We can see immediately that Krakow is an attractive city. Many of the cities we have visited are centred around their old town and the market square, but Krakow’s has a brighter and more open feel. It was spared from destruction in WWII, and its fine ancient buildings look in good repair. For now though, our interest is mostly for dinner. We take the advice of a young man touting for business, and follow him to an Italian restaurant just off the main tourist beat. It turns out to be a great choice, under a vine clad pergola. Bill is still talking about the spaghetti and mussels he ate there.
There is an Italianate feel in Krakow, and many streets have Italian referenced names. I never do find out the history of the connection, but I am sure it is not just my imagination. Maybe someone can enlighten me.
Tuesday 30th July 2013 , Garrulous Gwendoline, Krakow Poland