After a day spent indoors avoiding the extreme 35’C heat we headed out in the evening, when the sun was getting low and the temperature a bit more reasonable. Most days all you have to do is walk out of the door and you are soaking in sweat, sorry to be so graphic! This evening, the same one as the Tram evening in the previous post, we headed vaguely North West out of the flat, past the Tram depot and some lovely allotment gardens, then ended up alongside the train track and eventually stumbled upon what must have been allotments in the past. We discovered beautiful pink Sweet Pea flowers growing wild as well as a few old cherry trees that were offering up some lovely ripe fruits, which we gobbled with smiles on our faces. They were juicy and sweet, with just the right amount of sourness in them. We walked a little more, then the Mosquitoes woke up and seemed hungry, so we did an about turn and headed home.
This installation, by the artist Julita Wójcik has moved from it’s temporary home in Brussels to it’s new permanent (I hope) home on the super trendy, hipsterville of Plac Zbawiciela. You can read more about it by clicking here.
Next a just a smattering of photos from my latest trip to Radom, there was a huge thunderstorm in the night, and although I didn’t manage to catch an actual lightning strike, I did do some long exposure photographs that have a strange glow in them when the lightning struck part way through the exposure time.
My first day back in Warsaw. Yep, I came back. And I am happy too, the football excitement was starting to build up and the sun is shining in the sky. It really is a beautiful city in many ways. Even it’s ugly bits.
OH MY GOODNESS!!! I must really apologise to all the people who have been waiting and hoping for my update!! But at long, long, long, long, LONG last here it is!
This first post takes us from the 12th of April until the 21st, days 94 – 103! Some days are a little sporadic in note form, I hope this is ok with you guys!
12th A long and slow wander around the Tiergarten, I got approached by two people wielding a video camera, who then asked me to eat a chocolate quark cake thing and talk about what I thought, so, basically anyone could get me to eat chocolate if they just asked, so I went for it. A rather funny situation, I was expecting to be asked questions but I just had to say stuff, as it came to me, so it was all a little awkward. But I think I got away with it!! After that I wandered the length of the Tiergarten and then back towards the city centre, and this time on the way back I visited the Russian memorial, a large imposing structure right near the Reichstag, I wandered around the rear of the monument where there is a short, but interesting history of. Then I wandered to the Reichstag and took the usual touristy photo, then to the main train station to check out times and prices of trains to various onward options, then I headed home, though moved out to stay with another pair of friends for the night. We went to the opening night of a show, which had some work by an artist that my friend is assistant to
13th The next day I actually moved into a place to myself, just for the next two weeks, it’s nice, a good size for one and has a balcony and lots of lovely sunshine pours in through the large windows. No photos of this day I’m afraid.
14th A nice walk to Friedrichshain area of Eastern Berlin and around shops and markets. Then I wandered down Karl Marx Allee, a long, long, beautiful street, the sun was shining brightly, I made it to the fountain and sat next to the statue of Karl Marx for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the passers by taking photos. More shops and wandering after that, found a Club Mate ‘Ice Tea’ version (image on previous post). Not much different, maybe a little stronger in taste. That evening I met up with Annett, a good old friend of mine, who, it turned out I’ve not seen in 3 years!, and her new boyfriend for a drink. We had some good chat, they seem very besotted with one another, which is sweet.
15th, My friend Marta arrived in Berlin for a few days. I spent the wandering around some more before I went to meet her at the bus station, and show her where she was! Whilst I waited I had a tasty Green-Oolong Milky Bubble tea with popping lychee balls! Bubble teas seem to be all the rage in Berlin at the minute, they are quite expensive, but this one was quite tasty and the popping lychee ‘QQ’ were novelty enough!
16th, Today I took Marta to Friedrichshain to try to find film for her Holga camera, which failed because it was all far too expensive. But it was a lovely wander around. We wandered along the East Side Gallery, the largest stretch of the Berlin Wall which has been recently repainted, but with the same images as the original murals created, so it is looking really great. We stopped of and had cake in a Turkish bakery near to Schlesisches Tor.
17th, A quick visit to the market that stretches along the canal around the corner from where I am staying, it sells mostly food stuff, veg, cake, cheese, bread. Followed by a long walk to Victoria Park and the Kreuzberg monument, after which the area is named; Kreuzberg translating literally into ‘Cross Mountain’ basically a big green pointing thing with a cross on the top at the top of a tall hill, with a fake waterfall built onto it. Then walked further West into the Shoneberg district, had a hot chocolate in a little old ice cream parlour that looks like it has existed forever, really old school decoration and wooden walls. Then walked to Kliest park, and then found an old war time bunker as well as the area where the sports hall once existed that Hitler used to give his big speeches, including the one where he asked the crowd whether they want total war and the crowd cheered in agreement. It is now a housing development.
18th, A walk to the city centre. To the TV tower and Neptune fountain, then down towards the Brandenburg gate meandering about and finding old churches and other old buildings, the old Aeroflot office, that Marta told me used to still have the Hammer and Sickle on the sign, but not anymore it would seem, the Russian embassy, just a little way down the road though, still does have the hammer and sickle on its façade! Then to the Holocaust memorial and found the area that once had a lot more of Hitlers bunkers, as well as the one in which he, and Eva Braun committed suicide, before their bodies were removed and burned. Then also found the North Korean consulate / living quarters. Strange place, seemed to be just normal flats and apartments, but totally caged in and then people came outside whilst we were taking photos of the place… Coffee and cake at Checkpoint Charlie in Einstein’s. A little expensive but the cake was very good, and huge slices too! Walked home via international supermarket and through a really nice area of Kreuzberg, near a synagogue, that has a 24 hour guard and gates and fences up everywhere, seems mad that such a place still needs protection! But the general area is beautiful, with some great apartments looking out onto the canal.
19th, A day trip to Charlottenburg, the old palace and gardens, there was really beautiful, properly warm sunshine, wonderful flowers and atmosphere everywhere. Walked around gardens then went for pizza in this little place next to the Rathaus, made totally from fresh in front of us. Service was a little shakey but otherwise the food was very very good, Gorgonzola and Spinach pizza was great, Marta had one with anchovies, capers and fresh parma ham. Then we walked in the sun to zoologisher garden underground, found a place for more Bubble tea! Green tea with Passionfruit and tapioca balls, and Green Tea with mango and coconut cubes. Then we went into a big shopping place with lots of tea, very expensive; basically the same as somewhere like Harvey Nichols. They had a huge space with tea in big urns, and lots of the dry tea out in cups to smell, and also to potentially slip a few of the pearl style ones into your pocket for sampling later…
20th Walk along the landwehrkanal, a beautiful day and a lovely walk, reasonably easy going after all the crazy amounts of walking done so far! Lots of people out, jogging, dog walking, drinking by the river. Lovely jubbly.
21st, Walked to a market near Boddinstrasse, in Neukolln, and I bought a new old camera! An Agfa Agnar, for a hopefully bargain price of 4 euros! It even has a little shutter release lead with it for photos of yourself! With a shiny reflective viewfinder too! A little walk through Gorlitzer park, slow easy paced day, not to over do it before Marta headed back home on the bus that night.
IMAGE TIME!!! (they are smaller than usual because there are so many, but they are clickable for the larger versions!)
Tea 80, Loads of Yunnan Green Superior for study support!, the apartment, Warsaw
Day 79, well, what happened on this day? I guess not a great deal, we did go and pick Marta’s coat up from the dry cleaners and then wandered around in the sunshine, it was a little windy today so much of our time was spent trying to avoid the wind tunnels between buildings. We wandered around Jana Pawla for a while visiting the places we didn’t manage to go to the night before, the little tea shop, which is a bit expensive, then into the XX1 gallery to see the show that is on at the minute, although I think it might be shut now. ‘Transfusion’ by Pavel Novak, apparently the Polish version of a super common name such as my own! He had presented a few paintings alongside a sculptural glass installation of clear glass heart casts. The work looked good in the space, especially with the sun beating through the window, glistening from and through the glass casts. They weren’t exactly presented perfectly in the space though, somewhat ‘plonked’ on the end of white poles. The press release seemed to say they should appear to be floating at heart level, but they weren’t floating.
Day 80, Thursday, we didn’t really leave until late, later than we had intended really. Marta was studying for a job interview most of the day, I did pop to Galleria Mokotow for a short while to buy some eye moisturizer stuff from the pharmacy, as I had managed to lose my other one somewhere between Torun and Warsaw. When we did eventually leave we headed straight to central and to a photo development shop where we dropped off Marta’s first ever medium format Holga film! That was very exciting, and they had it ready in an hour, which amazed me, stuff like that in the UK usually takes about 2 weeks! While we waited we went back to Zacheta, to see the newly installed sculptural installation show called ‘New Sculpture?’. The show is good, I’m glad I got to see the other spaces in this gallery. There were various large scale works by a number of artists including Martin Boyce (giving me a sentimental thought of Glasgow) and Mai-Thu Perret, as well as others. We wandered around in there for a while, attracting various suspicious glances from the guards. The security guards in Poland are pretty hardcore, even more so in the health and beauty stores, Rossman’s is the worst, they may as well handcuff you as you walk through the door, and don’t even think about going in for a simple browse, not unless you are a massive fan of the serial voyeur!
Show seen we headed back outside, then had a whistlestop run around the old town to try to find a shop we had been to before that sells a great almond cake, we found the shop but sadly no almond cake! Then we had to rush back to the photo shop to collect the film, but not without a quick diversion to the donut place on Chmielna to fulfill our sweet cravings. We were both quite excited about the Holga results. We really didn’t know what to expect, especially as the film that Marta had bought was such a cheap one that we didn’t even know if we had put it in around the right way to begin with! But we were not disappointed! The results were very pleasing, though we both realised that we had been a bit foolish, Marta had been using the different colours of the flash when she had taken the photos. But it turned out we had both totally forgotten the film was black and white! Needless to say coloured flashes are utterly pointless in this case! Two of the photos are below, so I must credit Marta for them!
Day 81, the last day of employment for Marta! And also a job interview for her too! She had headed for this very early in the morning, I just about remembered to wake up and wish her good luck, before crashing back into sleep again. When I eventually awoke I spent some time on the computer before deciding to head into town. This was made a little difficult, I had been locked in! Marta had accidentally taken the keys with her to work. I sent her a message asking where they were, she looked in her bag and there they were. Luckily she managed to get permission from her work to come back and free me. Once that fiasco was sorted I went into town and walked around the shops for a while. The biggest thing on my mind was (and is) a hunt for this camera, a DIY lomo (yes, Marta’s Holga experience has inspired me). But this is a little different, one you build yourself from total scratch and that uses standard 35mm film. It’s called a DIY Recesky Twin Lens Reflex (or TLR), and looks like it could be good fun. I spent a lot of time searching around in the camera and gadget and toy shops, but to no avail. I think I am going to have to buy it online when I am in Berlin, the problem is the delivery times, but I will still keep looking for the next few days I think.
After the fruitless search I went and met Marta outside her work. She arrived carrying a load of stuff including some leftover cake from her goodbye cake collection and a goodbye present she had been bought, the fantastic teapot you can see above. The cups are double-walled to keep the tea warm for longer! A really great present, in my opinion! We christened it with some Sencha Sakura, a floral, delicately flavoured tea (she had been bought this as well as some Chinese Sencha and two flower teas). The tea was good, delicate and green, a very good sencha, and the flavoured aspect was very well balanced and didn’t take away from the tea too much!
So, monday was a bit of a write off, the only reason I left the flat was to go and do a bit of food shopping and come back again. So, not much to talk about there, and no photos either I’m afraid.
Straight onto Tuesday then, and a bit more eventful. I started the day with a little trip to Raclawicka again, to show Marta the little second-hand bike shop and to wander around in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day with loads of sunshine, though a bit windy. After a while walking around there, into a second hand shop where Marta bought a lovely red hooded coat with black toggles for a bargain price, we started to head towards town. We popped into a little photo shop to see if they develop medium format film, Marta recently invested in a Holga and has used her first roll of film! She also got her photo taken for her US Visa application. The place was tiny and dark and smelt like many decades worth of cigarette smoke had seeped into the walls. The guy looked like he has propped up the counter for his entire life too.
Back out into the daylight I had a sudden craving for an ice cream, the bright sunlight stirring that primal ice cream eating monster inside us all! A chocolate Magnum made it into my stomach in double quick time, and we carried on walking. We walked through Pole Mokotowskie, and then into the city centre, on the hunt for a launderette for Marta’s new coat. We didn’t manage to find a reasonably priced one before making it to Central Station, where we stood in a queue for ages and I bought a ticket to my next destination, Berlin next monday.
Ticket bought and we intended to get a tram up to the old town and to stop for a coffee in the cafe where I had the great Turkish Coffee, cafe Adi. All the trams were totally packed though, so after attempting to get onboard 3 we decided we would just make the most of the sunshine and walk. We did so and made it to the cafe whilst the sun was still streaming through the open window. It was so warm and lovely in there, and the turkish coffee was really good again. The place started to suddenly get really really full of well dressed pensioners, who were probably waiting for a show at the theatre across the road. We had finished our drinks so we decided to leave.
We then continued our walk, it was still sunny and quite warm so we walked up to the huge monument to the Polish Resistance and the funny multicoloured Pegasus’s ( Pegasuses? Pegasi?? ) that sit outside of the national library and the supreme court.
Then we headed West and ended up on Jana Pawla, where we managed to find a cheap launderette for the coat. We left it there and carried on our walk, south now and back towards the city centre, we stopped off in a few shops in search of some Ciechan Honey Beer, which seems to be in short supply at the minute. Unsuccessful we headed back to the Metro at central, at the minute and until the end of April part of the Metro is shut down so you can only get as far as Central from the stations south and only from Ratusz Arsenal north. You have to get a tram or bus between Central and Ratusz Arsenal at the minute. But this didn’t really affect us, just meant a slightly longer walk, we bought some chocolate covered raisins to sustain ourselves!
Back home via the Marc Pol store, where we successfully got some honey beer, though not Ciechan, but another brand, we ate some food and drank some beer and then the clock decided it was high time we headed for the sack!
Saturday, a beautiful sunny day, with proper warmth in the air! It was a really lovely day, like summer had just popped up to say hello! I spent the day wandering around the city, enjoying the sunlight and the fresh air. Marta and I ended up back in Cafe Vincent, we had planned to go to the is fish place called Top Fish, but it was full with people, like most places. We were really lucky with Cafe Vincent, managing to nab a seat as some people left. I had a really great Salami and Mozzarella baguette and some orange juice. It was very good, one of those baguettes with proper substance to them, nice and chewy, and warmed up a bit too. We scoffed those down and then carried on our sunny walk.
We walked and then sat in the university grounds on a bench in the sunshine for a while, until some neddy characters turned up and decided to stare at us until we decided to leave, what is with some people some times, they are just out to spoil other people’s enjoyment, I have never understood that. Anyway, we started to wander again, then bought a cartoon on Green Grapefruit Juice and went to sit by the river. The bank has large steps built onto parts of it and there were loads of people out enjoying the sunshine. It was a lovely atmosphere, people buzzing up and down on their bicycles and rollerblades. We sat there for a while until it started to get a bit cold as the sun went down and then we attempted to go home. This took us aaaaages! We got on a tram, then, with the intention of speeding up or journey home, got off at the Metro stop and went down to the platform. What a mistake, engineering works were happening which meant we could only get a train two stops, then we had to get off, get another train another two stops, from the opposite platform, then get off again and go home. This whole fiasco took about two hours in the end! There was loads of confusion about which platform to be on and when and why. I’m glad I wasn’t alone, I think I would of ended up in Siberia or something!
Sunday, and another great sunny day. I went to the flea market up at Kolo, on Obozowa street. This was full of stuff, much of it bric-a-brac and junk, but it was a good experience, lots of good faces and banter going on. I bought a little badge that the stall holder described as junk, which it probably is, but then, aren’t all badges really?? We walked up and down the stalls for a while. I took a few photographs, and was glad that I hadn’t photographed one stall, as I saw a girl trying to and then the stallholder come bowling towards here waving his arms at her camera in anger. That was a lucky escape, for me, and for her camera which remained intact.
We then met up with Carolina again, and her boyfriend, another Michael from Scotland (though this one was born and bred). We then headed to the Jewish Cemetery, where Marta was meeting a friend. Her friend is part of a scheme that is currently trying to clean up and restore parts of the cemetery as it is in a rather sorry state. The place is really massive though, so it is little surprise. We wandered around the graves for a while, it is reminiscent of the graveyard in Krakow, although much much larger and there is a little bit more space between the gravestones. The sun was still shining down, and a small breeze was waving the tall, thin tree trunks gently back and fourth. The place is very peaceful, and in the sunshine very serene.
After a while there, meeting Marta’s friend and talking and her showing us some of her favourite and some of the most famous stones, we left and went to get something to eat, sadly just some fast food in the Arcadia shopping mall. Then we got a tram to the New Town area, and walked south into the old town, people watching, the other Michael taking cheeky pictures of girls who took his fancy, a 50/50 mix of people who seemed flattered and some who were less so, and a few that pretending to be annoyed but with a rye grin on their faces. We ended up in BrowArmia, a pub that brews it’s own beers and has a terrible live singer stuck in the window, in a vain attempt to draw in more punters. If I were them I would stick to radio warsaw….
A nice half litre of Stout drunk and we left, wandering towards central. Carolina and Michael jumped on a tram home and Marta and I walked around the city a while longer. We found this interesting little place called V9, a sort of artists space, mostly for graffiti artists it would seem. Then we carried on our walk and finally headed back home.
Monday, I spent the morning at home then left and went to the city, I am still thinking about the bicycle travel plan, but can’t quite figure it out in my head just yet. But I had another look at a few bikes. Then got drawn into a bookshop by the window display of books about chinese tea. Then I found myself in Cafe Adi. I ordered a Turkish coffee and sat down. There were only a few other people there. One appeared to be the owner, a big Turkish man who was definitely the patriarch of the place. The waitresses, yep, all girls, seemed to be at his beck and call. One even had to go out and clean the inside of his car window! But it all seemed fairly light hearted and they seemed to know how to deal with him. The coffee was really good. Much better than the Israeli coffee I had in Krakow. The flavours of the spices were properly there and the coffee was thick and rich. I sat for a while, writing and thinking. The sun was pouring through the window, making you forget about the wind that was lashing the awnings and forcing the door shut with a huge slam a few times, even with a rock the size of my head holding it open!
I drank up my coffee, then walked slowly back to the city centre, got on the metro at Politechnika and went back to the flat.
Tea 58: Lemo Mate, the Apartment, Krakow.
The sun and it’s warmth came back today, gladly (though I hear it’s not to last, again). I left the apartment and walked in the sunshine to the river, the Wisla. I walked past the big helium balloon and crossed the bridge. I then turned south, towards the sun and following the rivers edge. As i walked the bells of three churches all began to ring for 12 o’clock. Though it would seem they are all have about 20 – 30 seconds of difference between them. Maybe this is on purpose so that they can all get a fair share of the attention. The big white church next to me was the last to chime, it’s big bells clanging about with great passion.
I continued along the river, then crossed the blue arched bridge to a part of town that could still be part of Kazimierz district, or it could be part of Podgorze district… There I wandered up a staircase to a small park dedicated to Wojciech Bednarski, a polish educator, councillor and activist from the 19th – 20th Century. The park is small but has a nice feel, with lots of trees and a large cliff at the far side, which has a wall built on the top of it that looks to be a fort of some kind. I sat there in the sunshine for a while, then left out of another entrance / exit. There was this huge old house at opposite the entrance which looked like something out of a fairytale, with a great roof and cornicing and a turret. I then walked back down the hill and onto a town square which has a large intricately decorated church at one end, that basically backs onto the little park I was in. I wandered down the main street, with its old buildings and their great old signs and facias.
After a while of weaving in and out of the streets, trying to keep in the warm sunshine, I made it back across the water and into Kazimierz proper. I wandered around a little more, walked up Mostowa Street and onto another little square, then along Jozefa street, where there is a tea house I have read about, I didn’t visit it today, but have found it so I know where it is when I am ready (probably tomorrow)! I then continued east, went under a tiny little bridge with the railway going over the top and found myself outside the large Jewish cemetery called Nowy Cmentarz Zydowski. I went in, began to walk amongst the hundreds and thousands of gravestones that fill this place. There is such a concentration of graves in this place, like I have never seen before. There are even tombs lining the pathways and they are so tightly packed that you can see where paths used to be, but which are now totally taken over by graves. The place is in quite bad disrepair, which is a shame, some of the stones were once very beautiful but have suffered terribly, probably largely due to the various wars. After a while amongst the stones I left, walked north and found myself in another food market, with people milling about getting their fruit and veg. Walking out of the market I found myself at a large old bridge, built in the middle of the 19th Century, which marks the start of Dietla street. Walking down, still in the beautifully warm sunshine (though I still needed a hat and gloves) I then went back into Kazimierz, and found this little cafe I had walked past a little while earlier, called Mostowa artcafe, named after the street it is on and the art on the walls. I ordered a coffee (I needed the caffeine, the cold is still keeping me under it’s influence), and some olives and sat for a good hour or so writing and just staring out of the window onto the street outside.
After that I left, and walked back to the little square called Plac Wolnica, with the Krakow Ethnography Museum on one side. I decided I hadn’t been in a museum for a while now and that I would visit this one. It’s fairly simple, with examples of old tools, traditional costume and reconstructions of houses and rooms. The usual stuff you find in such a museum. The best thing about this place was the photographs. There are loads and loads of old photographs (all reproductions) that are really great, so many faces and characters that say so much more than an outfit or old hammer in a glass case.
A while was spent in there, keeping warm, the temperature had begun to drop when I left the cafe. Then back out, the sun had begun to set and I wandered back to the river, via a supermarket, and this time instead of crossing straight over I decided to walk north, towards the Jubilat shopping centre, with it’s red neon sign reflecting in the water. The sky was turning a wonderful orange colour as the sun got lower and fuller. People were milling about on the rivers edge, rollerblading, cycling, taking photographs and being romantic, even a man walking his horse! I made it around to the next bridge and walked over it and then weaved through the streets of Debniki district until I found myself home again. Attempting to get into the building by asking the concierge to let me through the door descended into humorous chaos as I attempted a tiny bit of Polish and then got my tongue all twisted, but eventually we managed to communicate and I got back into the building.
So, today was my first day in Krakow. The cold has returned a bit today, which is a shame as I had begun to get used to the warmth again! Hopefully this little cold snap won’t last too long, though looking at the weather that is happening in what will hopefully be my next stop (the Ukraine), maybe it should stay so I can get used to being cold again.
I woke up, first time, at around 8 today. The sun was pouring in through the window, the bright blue sky up above giving more illusion of a warm summers day. One of the people I am staying with (another Marta, not to be confused with Marta from Warsaw) made me a cup of tea, a dose of Chocolate Cake Pu Erh tea. She then left for university, which resulted in me promptly falling back to sleep and not waking up for another two hours! So, second attempt at being awake, and this was much more successful. I topped my tea up with some hot water, luckily I had removed the tea-ball before I had fallen back to sleep so it wasn’t too well steeped. Then me and my host Malgorzata sat at the table with some breakfast and some more tea, this time a cup of power tea (the one I bought all that time ago in Copenhagen), we sat and chatted about art, art schools (she is studying at the Krakow Academy of Art), art students, painting, Marina Abramovic, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Guy Debord. Loads of stuff. It was nice to have a good long conversation about these artists and philosophers that I’ve not had much chance to talk about for quite a while. She seems to be going through a similar time at art school as I did, especially in my third year, the year she is currently in.
A couple of hours later we decided we should probably head out into the town. Marta had called and asked if we wanted to meet her in a cafeteria that is part of the Music school, so we jumped on the tram and took it to the old town. We wandered around a little, trying to find the place. Old Town is one of those ones that is pretty easy to get turned around in and we had gone slightly the wrong way, but a quick phone call later and we were back on track. We went into the Music school building and took the lift up to the top floor, where the canteen / restaurant is. This little place has got an amazing view! Both side of this floor are glass and offer a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city, one downside is that if, like me, you are a non-smoker, then one side is for smokers and the other not, so you only get one choice of city view. But it is great! The food is good quality too, like most student places it’s good value and good portion sizes. I ate Zapiekanka ziemniaczana, a kind of potato based lasagne-style thing. It was pretty tasty, cheese, potato, some sort of sauce, beetroot, salad.
After that, and by this time it was after 3pm, Malgorzata and I left Marta, who was preparing for a presentation she had to give in English later that day. On the way out I went to the loo. This was in the basement of the building, and there were loads of people practicing every kind of orchestral instrument imaginable. A trombone, tuba, violins. Then, walking into the actual toilet I was greeted by a lad practicing his clarinet, he was all set up with stool and music stand and everything and seemed very content there! Rather surreal if you ask me!
We left the building then went separate ways, I was on the hunt for the tourist information, to raid their free maps and info. Walking in the sunshine was lovely, the rays soaking into my skin making me feel nicely content.
Map found and I went for a little aimless wander around the city, a little while spent in the old town. The obstacle-course of tourists leading me to the decision to head outside of the city walls (!) and explore the less touristy bits of the city. My first impressions of Krakow are that it is a very different place to Warsaw. I think this may be due to the huge focus on the old town that there is in Krakow, it is the heart of the city. In Warsaw it is more of a part of the city than THE city.
I left the old town out of the western side and walked down a little street that could have been Karmelicka street. A mixture of buildings, old and older, all with various bits of facia and / or concrete falling or chipped off of them. I kept on walking around, heading north and then east. I ended up in a little market area, fruit, cakes, bread spread across tables, people with brilliant faces and great characters. They were beginning to shut down their stalls, and pack up there things, so this was only a short visit, I will try to have another look around on another day.
I then made it onto Plac Matejki, a large monument to Grunwaldi dominates the street. I turned right back towards the old town. I wandered through the park area that surrounds the town wall, soaking up the last few rays of sunshine as the sun began to fall below the level of the buildings. Then I followed the wall east, popped into the Galeria Krakowska to go to the supermarket, came out and did another little loop around a few of the narrow streets. Then back to the town wall and I followed this around and then began to follow the tram lines until I made it to the river, the sun was totally down now and it was getting dark and cold, but I stayed for a while a took some photos of the river and the helium balloon that goes up and down all day long, giving views of the city. Then I got the tram for about 3 stops and came back to the flat.
I sat for a while, catching up with all the belated postings I owe you all, then Malgorzata and Marta came home. Malgorzata made me a lovely cup of Green Tea with cherry (my bag from Warsaw) with added lemon and honey to try to fight off my cold and slightly sore throat. Then Marta made a great hot chocolate for herself and Malgorzata, and which I tried a very small cup of, despite the risk of congestion I couldn’t really resist!
Tea 54, Green tea with prickly pear and lemon, including Krupnik, Marta’s Mum’s House, Radom
Today was a beautiful day, glorious sunshine beaming down, with real warmth in it. The shadows were still cold though, and there was the occasional gust of a chilly wind. We just walked around Radom today, seeing the old town, which is unfortunately in a bit of a state in places, wooden beams literally stopping many buildings from collapsing. I am told that the old town is going to be renovated and repaired this year though, so hopefully that will happen because it is already charming, and with a bit of TLC could be very beautiful.
We first wandered through a little park, with a sculpture of Chopin and a funny little castle that is now a public toilet in the middle of it. Next to it is a bizarre little sight, rather than a play ground for kids they have an exercise ground, with a cross trainer / stepper type thing, a bench and chest press thing, all sorts of stuff, including a table tennis table. It’s quite nice because the kids still have fun playing around and climbing all ovet the stuff, whilst the adults can probably have a good time too, if they aren’t too shy to exercise in front of the whole town, which is small enough for everyone to probably know everyone… There is also a rather large and unusually sculpture of a guy called Kochanowski, I can’t remember exactly what he is famous for, but I think he was a poet, and has a bit of a sad history concerning his daughter, who was apparently some sort of child prodigy but died very young. The sculpture is good, but the figure is adopting the most bizarre pose I think I’ve ever seen!
Out of the park and down the high street, looking at the people, the entrance ways and arches to some of the old buildings. We accidently locked ourselves into one of the little courtyards but were rescued a little while later when a lady wanted to come in at the time we were trying to get out! More explorations found us a little old building that was once a printers shop. This old brick building had a thing over the door stating 1818, which I presume to be it’s original building date, and it looks it. It is in semi ruins now, but is a very interesting building and I hope it gets saved by someone.
In to the old town, we wandered into the grounds of a Benedictine church, a few brown robed monks milling about, the sun shining down on the well kept lawn and shrubs. More meandering brought us past another church, the original church of the old town, and then into the old town square, a vast, empty space, in need of a bit of life and improvement, which will undoubtedly arrive at some point. At the moment it is a minimalist’s dream.
We then wandered out of the old town, to the Galeria (shopping centre) which has pretty much singlehandedly brought the blight that the town centre is suffering into being. Despite this we were on a hunt for a gift for Marta’s Mum, for her birthday, which is on Sunday. We found what she was after, or had been instructed to get by her sister and brother and then wandered back in the sunshine towards home.
We had intended to pop home and then go out again, but when we got back Marta’s Mum had prepared a huge spread of salad and soup and chicken and her Dad had made a wild boar goulash! He is a hunter, and despite my reservations to this fact and my preference to veg over meat, the goulash was very good. Mashed Potatoes with Dill, Carrot and Sauerkraut. It was a proper feast, and for this reason we did not make it back out into the town, the food was so non-stop that we spent the whole afternoon eating and drinking! The drinking went a fair way, starting with a local (ish) beer and then wine and then onto the spirits…! Krupnik is a honey liquor, pretty strong and fragrant, but good. There was also a vodka that Marta’s Dad had infused with quince. Basically there was A LOT! To freshen up a little Marta and I took her dog Etna for a walk around the park, then we came home and watched a film, one of my favourites ‘True Romance’, with Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.