Kraków, Ancient Capital – May 7

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How to Kill a Dragon Named Smok:

The old story is told that Kraków was founded in 350 A.D. by a bloke named Krakus. He had a beautiful daughter, handy if you want dangerous work done. Let’s call her Jo. Worried by Smok, who lived in a cave under Wawel Hill (see model above), Krakus offered Jo’s hand in marriage to any man who could snuff Smok. Many tried, but when they cut off Smok’s head, he grew two more instantly. It was a bloody, dragon-head-filled while before one chappie whom I’ll call Pawel figured out that cutting off one or more heads just made things worse. He poisoned a goat and left it in front of Smok’s cave. Poison worked. Pawel won the damsel, Jo’s dowry and a lifetime supply of Grey Goose.

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We had a lazy morning, since we had opted not to opt for the optional tour of the Salt Mines.There were many stairs down even after the elevator. Going down a ton of stairs is hard for Anita. We still had 9 days left in our trip; not a time to risk your mobility! I opted to stay at the Sheraton with her, tying up some loose ends… where to eat lunch, what museum(s) to see after lunch, and how we might fit in a walk to the 14th C. Kazimierz neighbourhood… until our Salt o’ the Deep Earth group got back. The Salt Mine, and its beautiful acoustic space and sculpture, is a World Heritage Site. Kinda wish I’d gone…

Wawel Hill:

Anyway, when the salts, old and young, returned and had been hosed down with Perrier and rubbed up with aloe cream, we walked up Wawel Hill. Our local expert took us through its cathedral. Most of the royal bodies are kept there, so it is still the most important cathedral in Poland. Continue reading “Kraków, Ancient Capital – May 7”

Through Slovakia to Kraków

On May 6 our tour bus left Budapest at 08:05 and drove North on the E 77 highway through the Tatra Mountains, which are a part of the Carpathian range.

Our drive through Slovakia to Kraków
Our drive through Slovakia to Kraków

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Kari Anne told us that the Slovakians have thrived as part of the EU. A few car manufacturers like Audi have built plants here because they are offered tax breaks and lower wage, skilled workers.

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At our first highway stop we learned how successful the Slovakians are at business. We bought a couple of cans of iced tea from a cooler section that had very attractive prices, compared to some of the other drinks. When Anita went to pay the price was almost double the stated price in the fridge display unit. I pressed the clerk to explain how they can charge much more than the labeled price. He explained dismissively that their price printer wasn’t working. Entrepreneurs, indeed.

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Near Zvolen on the way into Donovaly ski resort Kari Anne had us watch for what appeared to be a camouflaged train visible from the road. The train appeared to be left there as an exhibit of some sort, perhaps hearkening back to cold war times. We ate in Donovaly and walked around the village after lunch shooting some photos.

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Not All Vampires Come from Transylvania…

Back on the road we passed Orava Castle, just south of the Polish border. This spooky castle was used by a German film producer as the setting for an unauthorized 1922 silent film, Nosferatu, based on Bram Stoker’s, Dracula. They were forced to change the word Vampire to Nosferatu and Count Dracula became Count Orlok. We then stopped at Podbiel to photograph some log houses, then drove on through a mild mist towards a rainy Kraków. I don’t remember having dinner but we did – somewhere… I would rather have spent the time walking around the main square, Rynek Glówny, and watching the sunset in that beautiful, very old square. It was spared the ravages of World War II. When we got back to a dark, rainy city centre I persuaded Anita to come with me to Rynek Glówny square. The rain seemed to be easing, but returned with gusto. Had to be careful with the camera!