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Monday, April 14, 2008

Vacation Day 8: Prague -> Krakow

Click here for pictures from Day 8.

We really felt comfortable in our hotel room. I make fun of the large amount of plastic, but it was a comfortable hotel. We didn't have much time this morning since we had an early train to take us to Krakow. After a quick breakfast, Beth and I hurried to Wenceslas Square, the site of the Velvet Revolution. This was our fastest sightseeing / walking trip of the vacation (so far), with a very quick pace and deliberate speed. We went, we saw, we came back, and rushed to the train station.

We believe this is where Bongo decided he was grown up to have adventures of his very own. We agree, but we will also miss him. He was Beth's traveling companion for ten years.

This is also where Beth's watch decided to have adventures of its own. We're fairly certain someone stole it off her wrist, and we know who it was. It's the same person who was very interested in having Beth open her purse to look at her train ticket. Tsk.

The train to Krakow was an 8-hour direct shot. It was not as nice a train as the one two we took from Germany, and the early part of the trip the train was packed, and uncomfortable, but we had the car all to ourselves after about four hours. The time passed quickly, and the countryside looked much more bleak the further east we went. I worked on the this diary and Beth read and napped.

We arrived at Krakow at about 9PM and took a quick taxi to the hotel. The hotel was actually in walking distance, but we were told some adjacent parts of the walk might not be safe. Since the taxi was a mere 10 Zloty (about four dollars) we saved the effort.

Hotel Gródek is gorgeous. The staff is very friendly and helpful, if all very young. The room was beautifully furnished, and included paper slippers (to keep my feet clean, yay!) We decided on dinner at a place known as having the best pierogies in Krakow. It was closed and had a sign in Polish. I think it was closed for repairs. We adjusted the plan and ate at a nice looking restaurant off-the-street. Beth started with a pilsner and I had my one and only wodka of the trip. Nobody told me I was meant to shoot it back instead of sipping it, Alas. Beth ordered pierogi and I had pork stuffed with prunes in a plum sauce, with an accompaniment of vegetables and rice. The vegetables and rice both had butter, just to ensure there were no lingering health benefits. All the food was brought to us on trays, which we thought would be the typical style of serving food (it was not) and the service was the slowest we'd seen, and hoped that was not endemic of Krakovian service (it was.)

We learned something quickly in Krakow: tips are not easily added to a credit card payment: either you have the cash up-front or you don't tip. Some places had exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, if you didn't have cash, tipping was awkward.

Walking back from the restaurant we passed a gallery near our hotel that had a banner that read

"Stanisław Lem - rysownik 13.03 - 26.04.2008"

I had no idea whether Lem was well regarded in Poland, or even if there might be something interesting for his fans near Krakow. This was better than any church we might find, so Beth and I agreed that I would go there by myself, probably the next day.

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