Dave and I have been in Krakow for three days. It is a very interesting city; lots of old streets, cobblestone roads, narrow roads, many languages, restaurants, old and beautiful buildings, and lots of history. Our hotel is just outside of the old town and each day we have walked into the old town, which was once completely surrounded by castle walls. There are some towers still remaining and parts of the castle wall; it reminds me of playing knights with my brother when we were younger. Today we took a carriage ride through the old town. From the clock tower, down to Walwel castle, then back along a road past Oskar Schindlers residence, past what the locals call, “Bush hotel” (it is a beautiful small hotel that President Bush stayed in last year), past the previous Popes residence when he was a Bishop and back into the main square. The main square is quite large and in one corner has an old church and tower from which a trumpet player plays music each hour. There are also lots of shops, people and outdoor cafes. I like having a cappuccino or beer outside on the main square and people watching. I find myself wondering: where are people from, what language do they speak, are they residents, tourists, students. There are a lot of students in Krakow as there is a main university in the old town and many others outside of town. Marta, our walking tour guide, took us all through the old town, up to the castle and then drove us into the Jewish ghetto and quarter and to Schindler’s factory. That was sobering to see some of the old wall that the Nazis erected around a small area and forced many Jews to live in very poor and incredibly cramped conditions. In the main square in the old Jewish quarter there is work of art that is composed of empty chairs to signify and commemorate the many Jews whose lives were cut short by Hitlers regime. Very sad.
I have eaten my fill of polish food: perogies, veal goulash, soup, potatoes (in many ways) and my favorite of all, this excellent ice cream that Marta took us to get – it reminded me of Italian gelato, very delicious. We bought a few souvenirs for the kids today: wooden boxes, a key chain, Polska tshirt and a small porcelain bowl.