In Poland, not the Sequel

I have arrived in Krakow, Poland. On the way over here I got very lucky. I was bumped up to First Class on Delta from Memphis to Atlanta for being kind and giving someone else my seat. And from Atlanta to Munich I did not have to sit next to anyone and slept at least 4 hours on the plane. Maybe I will be as lucky on my return flight and get bumped up to First Class from Munich to Atlanta.

Weather is great. I would almost say it is the same temp as Memphis sans humidity.

Lajkonik Festival

A festival that I was hoping I would not miss is the Lajkonik Festival. Most tourist booklets did not have the correct dates. It seems this happens regularly per the Tourist Information Center. Some places had the festival posted on June 5th and others the Thursday after Corpus Cristi which was on June 22nd. I took a gamble and tracked down some details. The actual festival started near the river around noon and again in the Market Square around 6pm.

I attended the festival and took many, many pictures. I know some of them are not the best, but the guy kept moving around. Not a very large festival or not as large as I expected it to be based on the Tourist Booklets.

Check out many of the photos at My Flickr Photo Album.

Bicycle ride in Krakow, Poland

Sunday, June 18th I tried waking up around 8am, but my body just would not have it. I actually woke up around 11 am, showered and made my way to Rent-a-Bike. I told they guy that I would b renting the bike the entire day and planned to ride to Kosciusko Mound and then the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Well, I was not able to locate the Mound and after 3 hours of riding a bike with gears that did not work, I opted to return the bike. But before then, I proceeded to ride to the Wawel Castle and sit out on the banks of the Visla River with a “Coke and a Smile” to enjoy the sun. After that, I just walked around to see if there was anything I have not seen yet in all my visits to Krakow, Poland.

Lajkonik Parade

I am going to try and attend the Lajkonik Parade. It take place during my lunch break and is only a 5-10 minute run from the Lubicz Center. If lucky, I will be able to see the entire procession and attend the rest of the festival in the evening after work.

Here is a photo with the Lajkonik that hangs around the Market Square almost daily taken in May.

Bicycle Rider

Strolling through the Main Square in Krakow, Poland I spotted this guy walking his bicycle around for a bit. I stalked him to see if I could catch him actually riding it, but I had not luck. I am hoping he will be out next weekend to see if I can get a better picture or even see if he will let me sit on the bike and can my own photo taken on it. Of course, I would be supporting myseld to a post or a wall.

Protester in Krakow, Poland

While walking through the streets of Krakow, Poland I saw a group of student protesters walking around the Main Square on May 19th, 2006. I am not sure what they were protesting as I could not speak Polish. I did try to get in front of them to take a photo of their signs, but I was not fast enough. Good thing I was able to locate another silent protester about to get busted by the PoPo, and that is not “Popo Zao” by K Fed.

This rough looking dude was standing of to the side of St. Mary’s Church with a end of the world type sign on him. I was not able to read the sign, but I did snap a few shots of it. So if you know Polish please go to Flickr.com and click on the protester photos and let me know what it actually says and post it on the comments to this post . The end result is that the cops let him go with a warning and was able to take his sign with him. Below is a photo or two as a teaser.

Mohawk

I am not sure if you saw a picture of this guy in a post from my last trip to Krakow, Poland in April. I saw him again, but this time I saw him without his hat and he had a nice little mohawk. He was located on the side entrance of the Cloth Hall in the Main Square.

Another caricature

I figured I would try and have another caricature while here in Krakow, Poland with my glasses on this time. This was done by the same guy that did the caricature the last time I was here in Krakow, Poland. Do see the previous photo go here.

Where I will be next week.

Saturday I will be in Krakow, Poland for my 4th trip. If you want to see where I will be you can go to the following link and actually see the street I will be staying on while in Krakow. My hotel is actually off the screen to the right. The street is Wielopole and you can actually see St. Mary’s Cathedral in the background. When looking at the screen you can refresh for an updated snapshot of the street. Remember that Krakow, Poland is 7 hours ahead of Memphis, TN time.

Wielopole Street in Krakow, Poland (Click refresh to get an updated snapshot)

Snapshot above was at 6:45am Memphis time.

What’s next…

If you are a regular, you know that I am going back to Krakow, Poland again and again. While I am there I try to take advantage of the time there and see everything that there is to see as I never know when I will return again. I have a stack of tourist books and brochuers I picked up while I was there last time and am trying to compile a list of things I want to see on my next trip or the ones after that.

Below is a small list of things I will try to see while in Krakow, Poland on many of my future trips.

Ojcow and Pieskowa Skala Castle
Lagiewniki, Kalwaria and Wadovice
Black Madonna Shrine
Dunajec River Gorge Raft Trip
Trip to Prague
Zakopane for some snowboarding in the winter
Mound of Krak
Zygmunt Bell
Bielany Monastery

If you know of anything that you think I might enjoy doing while in Krakow, Poland, let me know.

Paese Restaurant

Tonight we went to the Paese Restaurant in Krakow, Poland. This is a small little Corsican place. The food is actually very good. Price is moderate. I ate the onion soup, cucumber salad, pork tenderloin, and pears with vanilla sauce. I would rate this place about 4 stars.

Someplace Else

Yesterday we went to a Krakow, Poland establishement located near the Wawel Castle inside the Sheraton Hotel called Someplace Else. It is probably the most American type of restaurant in Krakow, Poland besides McDonalds. The food is actually pretty good. I do feel that there chips and salsa need some better chips. Prices are very moderate and I rate this place 4 stars.

Smingus Dyngus

Monday here in Krakow, Poland is a special day called Smingus Dyngus or Wet Monday in English. From what I have heard, Monday is a day of celebration and you will see many walking or running around trying to get people wet. People will spray people with water and per some people this is a sign of good luck.

Below is a photo of something people might use to get others wet. And yes, my egg is fully loaded and ready to squirt back. I also hear that kids will even pour a bucket of water of an old lady, so no one is safe. I will let you know how crazy the day goes and how wet I actually get.

Krakow Lajkonik

I am a sucker for tourist fotos, especially with someone on the streets. Below is a photo of me and the Krakow Lajkonik. The story says that if the guy touches you with his spiked club, it will bring you happiness and prosperity.

Information on the Krakow Lajkonik

Polish Tradition

For those that know me, you know that I have been to Krakow, Poland a few times and with more than likely be returning many more times for business. While here I have found that there are many tradiotions that we do not have in the USA. One of takes place on the Saturday before Easter.

Saturday Morning while taking my Communist Tour I saw men, women, and children carrying baskets to the nearest church. At first, I thought that this was an offering that people were giving to the church, but I was wrong. People have food that they will be eating for Easter, not the entire meal but parts. Some of the thing in the baskets are cheese, ham, bread, and other things. They actually have this food blessed. Below is a photo or 2 of the priest blessing the food.


Cold War is over

This am I was picked up in a Communist Trabant by Communist Tours . It is a car that was made mostly out of plastic and had a 600cc engine. The tour started by taking me to a traditional Commnist Restaurant that has not changed since the 5o’s. There my tour guide Bartek explained what all we would be seeing on our tour.

We walked me around Nova Huta, which was a huge community that was built by the communist. Nova Huta means New Steel Mill, and as you can guess by the name people that lived in Nova Huta also worked in the steel mill.

He then proceeded to take me to an old apartment that is still furnished with furniture from the 50’s in the communist style. Photos of this can be found at My flickr Photos.

Other places he took me were the Arka Dana or what is called the Lords Arc which is the first church of Nowa Huta. He also took me to the Mogila Monestary where there is a church built from wood from over 500 years ago. And the last spot on the tour was the Kopiec Kraka Mound where I was able to see all of Krakow, Poland.

The 3rd Misteria Paschalia Festival

Tonight after eating at Da Pietro Restaurant we walked to the Main Square to see what all was going on there. As we walked up we saw tons of people and then the music started. We actually got lucky and were able to catch what we call “Stages of the Cross”. There was an orchestra and everything. It was almost like a concert.

We did not hang out there the entire time as it was kind of chilly and I had woken up that day with a sore throat. We might catch some of the other parts to the festival on Sunday or Monday.

Da Pietro

Tonight, we ate at an Italian Restaurant called Da Pietro . The restuarant is located in a basement. The service was great and the food was good. Overall I would rate this restaraunt a 4.2 with a moderate price range for American Standards.

The part that impressed me the most was the soup that was in a bread bowl. Photo can be found below. I have actually seen this in many restaraunts here in Krakow, Poland, but it the the first time I have actualy eaten it.

Caricature

This afternoon, I took a walk through the streets and passed this guy doing caricatures on the street and decided to have one made of myself. It cost me roughly 40 Zloty which is about $13. I think it was well worth it, but others might not think so.

The caricature was done without my glasses. I know this one will get some interesting comments.

Pod K Restaurant

Tonight, we ate at the Pod Krzyzykiem, often referred to as Pod K by us American Folks. This is a great little restaurant that is located on the square. Inside the restaurant, they have a glass floor in a section that has a replica model of the city below it.

The food was great in this restaurant as was the service. The presentation of the food was well worth it. Below is a photo of the dessert I ate as well as a photo of me in the hallway of the restaurant in a typical tourist pose. The dessert was a chocolate souffle.

Krakow Dragon

There is a story behind the Krakow Dragon that is standing behind the Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland. But before that I found out that the dragon actually has flames that comes out of its mouth. You can help the dragon spit the flames out by sending a text message.

The below message is actually posted on the base that the dragon sits on:

“If you send the word”SMOK” as a text message to the number 7186, then I will warm up your day by breathing fire-just for you. The cost of your SMS is 1 Zloty + VAT. For further information about my service, see http://www.KSG.pl”

“Tradition connects the beginnings of Krakow with one Prince Krak who rid his people of a dragon devouring both their stock and their virgins. And the large 200-foot-long cavern in the western rocky slope of the Wawel Hill above the Vistula river bank known for centuries as the monster’s den still attracts swarms of visitors. Actually, the Dragon’s Cave (Polish ‘Smocza Jama’) is the area’s oldest residence, inhabited by man from the Stone Age through the 16th century. Visitors can enter it via a turret of the west fortifications atop the Wawel Hill.”
Found at Smocza

More phots of the dragon can be found at My Flickr Photos

Chlopskie Jadlo Restaurant

Chlopskie Jadlo Restaurant is a traditional polish peasant restaurant. The restaurant is actually located underground. The food is served on big wooden platters. The food consisted of Fried Potatoes, Galonka (Ham Hocks), chicken wings, goat cheese, ribs (not Memphis Style Ribs), pierogi and other stuff. You can probably get a better description from their web page.

Overall the price seemed not so peasant like at 280 zloty for 4 people, which is about $93. We were quoted much less when before ordering. You are mostly paying for the experience and not the food. I rate this place a 3, as the server never came back to us until it was time for the bling.

Below is what the platter looked like.

Palm "Palma" Sunday

Saturday and Sunday I saw amost everyone walking around, with what I am holding in the picture below which seems to be a Polish Tradition. I purchased one to ask the people I am training for an explanation.

From what I was told, flower vendors sell them and the people that buy them then take them to church and have them blessed on Palm Sunday. I think this is a very cool tradition. Puts a spin on Palm Sunday and the churches suppling them. One person even mentioned that there is a contest to see who has the largest Palma.

Brasserie Restaurant

Tonight we went to Brasserie Restaurant and no that does not mean bra. The food was very good as was the service. I ate a dish I could not repeat even if I had written it down. I my words, it was chicken with cheese and ham with frites on the side. All in all I rate this place a 4.3. The restaurant is actually an old trolly facility. Very cool.

Dang Commies

Well, after trading emails back and forth with the Commie Tour people we confirmed that they would pick me up at 9am Saturdayh morning. I woke up early and made my way to the lobby at around 8:50am. 9am rolled around and still no Commie. 9:20am and still no Commie. I got dissed. Spoke with the front desk and they are going to work and set up a Commie Tour for me on Saturday April 15th.

Of course, no telling what will happen since there web page expired on 4/5/2006.

Rent-a-Bike or Buy-a-Bike?

I had plans to purchase a used bicycle for $100, but while walking through Krakow, Poland today I saw a bicycle locked up to a post bill an ad on it for Rent-a-Bike. Since I am going to be coming back a few times the cost of buying one might be better than actually renting one. The bike rental is a45 Zloty which is close to $15.

In the meantime, I do have plans to rent-a-bike Easter Weekend to cruise around town. Of course I could be like Tony Roy and rent myself a scooter from the same people that rent the bicycles. Either way I go, I will be sure to post a photo of the bicycle or scooter.

Arlecchino Ristorante

Tonight we went to Arlecchino Ristorante, a small Italian restaurant in Krakow, Poland. I ordered the chiken salad, Spaghetti Carbonara and French fries. Yes, I said French fries and they almost taste like McDonalds Fries. The food was pretty good. I did not have dessert since I was stuffed. I would actually give the restaurant 3.5 -4 stars. The service was excellent and price was moderate.

Commi Tour

If you know me or have read past post, you know that I have been to Krakow, Poland a few times and scheduled to return in the very near future. I have racked my brain trying to find things to do on my down time.

I was able to find a Commi Tour. They drive you around the old Communist parts of Krakow, Poland in a authenic Commi car (found below).

Click here for more information on the Commi Tour.

I need a better camera.

Here is a photo I took from the office in Krakow, Poland. I had to take it from a cracked open window. Bad part is that my zoom could not zoom anymore. Someone is going to try and get me a better shot, hopefully.

You might only enjoy this if you like bicycles. Of course, I might have my own bicycle hanging from the balcony next time I go to Krakow, Poland. You can buy a little cruiser for about 150 zlotys (about $50). I would use this to ride to and from work or anywhere else for that matter.

Let me know how you like my shots…


McDonald’s Ketchup

While here in Krakow, Poland I have noticed many items that we do not have in the USA. One example is McDonald’s Ketchup I saw at the 24 hour market across from the hotel. I have even seen Snickers Peanut Butter.