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Cześć from Kraków (and the end of a Very Long Day)

Poland Day 1. Day 1 basically involved getting here and dipping my toes in the water – which in reality took two days given 26 hours flying time plus all the transiting. But I’m here now and loving my first few hours in the Old Town of Poland’s second largest city.

Things got off to a dicey start at home just as Mike was about to take me to the airport. I’d given my pack a quick weigh and I was happy to see it was 10+kg lighter than what I humped around in North America in 2004. Still, best get Mike to weigh them as well.

Both were well over weight limits. Nooo! I was stunned. It didn’t make sense but a mad flap duly ensued with contents spewing onto the floor. What on earth could I leave behind? Surely not my extensive arsenal of supplements? And all my toiletries are essential! Then Mike twigged. The scales had somehow reset themselves to pounds. Massive relief.

Wellington Airport, ready to go

Wellington Airport, ready to go

Five weeks is a long time to be gone and as Mike drove away I questioned not for the first time whether I was doing the right thing. Solo adventures may not be everyone’s cup of tea but in order to see and do the things you want, sometimes you have to put yourself out there. And when you do put yourself out of your travel comfort zone it’s usually far more rewarding than just having seen and done those things that triggered it.

The flights to Hong Kong and Germany were an ordeal with very little sleep but I enjoyed the few hours I had to kill in Munich Airport. The Lufthansa plane to Kraków was like going back in time, a theme that continued when I arrived to find the whole baggage claim and customs areas in one big shed with a marquee extension and asphalt flooring. (I later realised this was their second and primarily domestic terminal.)

My first view of Poland was when we descended below the clouds coming in to Kraków

My first view of Poland was when we descended below the clouds coming in to Kraków

In contrast to the careful scrutiny at passport control in Munich, there was nothing of the sort here so happily reunited with my bag I just wandered through and outside.

I was going to bus into town but while waiting I was approached by a guy offering a cheap taxi fare which I declined. He later returned having rounded up three other clients with a revised offer of 5 Euros to shuttle us into town. I weighed it up: more expensive but still good value, gets me there quicker, safety in numbers. It also gave me a front seat experience of driving; not too bad generally though his skills were appalling.

We were deposited at the central bus station. I navigated through the large adjacent shopping centre following the signs to Stare Miasto / Old Town.

More on the Old Town another time but it is massively historical and interesting and where I’ll be based for the first few days. I wandered around the Planty, the park that borders the Old Town where medieval city walls once stood, to locate my hotel.

The Planty. I wonder if there are squirrels?

The Planty. I wonder if there are squirrels?

My hotel (with the pink facade bit). Really happy with it.

My hotel (with the pink facade bit). Really happy with it.

It was only about 2.30pm by this stage so a few hours to start investigating on what was a fairly dull weather sort of day. I trotted back to the main galleria to find a SIM card. Mucked that purchase up (nano SIM Hayley, not micro SIM) but made the gleeful discovery that you can cut SIM cards down and they still work :).

I wandered in search of the Rynek Główny, the main square. It is big, some say the largest medieval square in Europe, its size obscured by the Cloth Hall plopped in the centre.

One corner of the Rynek Główny, featuring St Mary's Basilica

One corner of the Rynek Główny, featuring St Mary’s Basilica

I steered myself to the square’s massive Gothic landmark, St Mary’s Basilica, paying an extra 5PLN to be able to take photos. It is absolutely stunning.

A nun at the rear of the church

A nun at the rear of the church

I continued meandering, and later returned to have dinner at one of the many many many eateries lining the square.

There are loads of tourists/people here but there are even more pigeons

There are loads of tourists/people here but there are even more pigeons

Eateries line the edges of the square and the Cloth Hall as well

Eateries line the edges of the square and the Cloth Hall as well

Bit of a tourist gimmick, though a picturesque one

Bit of a tourist gimmick, though a picturesque one

Didn't eat here but read about it and had to find it! Set up by Kiwis, it seems very popular

Didn’t eat here but read about it and had to find it! Set up by Kiwis, it seems very popular

I just love walking around here

I just love walking around here

By 9pm I was barely able to function so I surrendered to jet lag, though waking at about 3am (dammit!!!) has enabled me to write this up before commencing day 2.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. 3 September 2015
  2. And the adventure begins! It will be fun to join you, virtually and in almost “real” time. 🙂 Gorgeous images to begin the journey!

    4 September 2015
    • Thanks Cindi! Hopefully I can keep up with myself – struggling a bit to get into blog rhythms due to lousy sleep patterns!

      4 September 2015
  3. Wow. I love these pics of Poland. The stained glass windows of the basilica are stunning. I like seeing all the pigeons and the horse drawn carriages. Nice shots. Hope you are having a fantastic adventure.

    4 September 2015
    • Hi Yvonne, thank you. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far.

      4 September 2015

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