Krakow

Wednesday

Wednesday morning we got up early, ate breakfast, checked out of our hostel, and caught the tram to the bus station. We found the platform where the bus was supposed to arrive and waited. Our bus showed up around 8:30, we paid the driver, and got onboard. The ride to Krakow was long (3 hours), but uneventful. When we got off the bus in Krakow, we made our way to the train station to buy our tickets for the night train to Budapest. However, this was easier said than done (especially considering that the two are right next to each other). We finally made it to the train station - down to the bottom level of the bus station, through the underground tram station, through a giant shopping mall, and around the corner. Fortunately, buying our tickets was the easy part.

After we had our tickets, we made our way to our hotel. As usual, we seemed to have a problem getting off in the right direction (you'd think that the three college degrees and numerous countries visited between the two of us that we'd be more proficient at this kind of thing). Once we figured out what tram stop we were getting off at, then what trams went there, we had to find a tram stop that was serviced by the tram we wanted (the one we were at was not). We ended up walking one stop in the wrong direction before we figured out that we needed to go the other way. Turns out that we could see the stop we needed from where we were standing originally (but not the tram numbers, so we wouldn't have known that was the correct one). Once on the tram it was easy to get to our hotel.

After checking into the hotel and eating lunch, we went to the main square in the Old Town.

And to St. Mary's Cathedral (originally built in 1220 and houses a rather impressive altar).

After that we did the Rynek Underground exhibit which is a tour through the medieval market (set in the actual market that was excavated under the square) and various other bits of medieval live in Krakow. It was really well done with lots of hands on and video enhancements. After we finished with the Underground exhibit, we decided that we were not hungry enough to eat a whole dinner (due to a late lunch), and were too tired to go back to the hotel and then leave again when we were hungry. We ended up getting kebab on the way home.

Thursday

After breakfast in the hotel, we went to a bookstore in the Jewish district and picked up a book that our guidebook (Lonely Planet's Central Europe) said would give us a decent walking tour of Kazimierz. We followed one of the routes in the book and saw the new cemetery, the old cemetery, several synagogues that we did not go into, and the Old Synagogue (which we did go into). After stocking up on our Jewish culture we enjoyed some lunch and then headed to Wawel Castle.

At Wawel Castle, we saw the Royal State Rooms, the Armory, the cathedral (including the bell towerand the tombs - which included Chopin's tomb), and the Dragon's Lair (including a fire breathing dragon...photos of that later).

Here's the view from the trip up the bell tower and the super steep stairs we had to go up and down.

As we were leaving, our waiter (who I presume was also the owner, it appeared as though his wife was the bartender and his son was the other waiter) followed us out and produced this little figurine from his pocket, handed it to me and said, "for you, madame," with nod and a bow.

Friday/Saturday

Yesterday we took it pretty easy. We hung around our room until we were forced (by hunger) to find lunch. We ate at a restaurant that we found via Wikitravel and then had coffee and cheesecake at a cafe found in the same way.

We had dinner at another restaurant recommended on Wikitravel and stopped for ice cream on the way back to our hotel. Apparently we needed both lunch dessert and dinner dessert!

The plan for today was to get up early and go to Auschwitz, but it is raining very hard so we decided to skip it. Instead we are hanging out in our hotel until the last possible minute (fortunately we are able to check out late), then we will brave the rain and go to Schindler's factory (there's a good museum there), and then possibly go see the new James Bond movie before we get on our train for Budapest at 10pm.