Krakow, Hostel Abel
Today was a much more positive day. I woke very early but I did get to sleep quickly. Again a very hot sunny day. Krakow seems to get some amazing weather and it is a most beautiful city. Got up just before 7.00 am and went down for breakfast at 8.00 am. The lady who served us, called Anna, was lovely. She speaks no English and us no Polish but it was interesting. I had cornflakes, bread and cheese and orange juice. It was very nice. So we feel we can survive now.
We left about 8.30 am and went to the Spar we found last night. We got all the bits and pieces needed for picnics. Krakow is very cheap. We definitely pay a lot less than for an equivalent picnic at home. We headed up into the Old Town which is just stunning.
Krakow is full of beautiful buildings. We passed this on our way.
We went to the Main Square. It is quite something. This is it or the Main Market (Polish: Rynek Główny) of the Old Town of Kraków. It dates back to the 13th century, and at roughly 40,000 m2 (430,000 ft2) is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe.
The main square is a rectangular space surrounded by historic townhouses (kamienice) and churches. The center of the square is dominated by the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), rebuilt in 1555 in the Renaissance style, topped by a beautiful attic or Polish parapet decorated with carved masks. On one side of the cloth hall is the Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszowa), on the other the 10th century Church of St. Adalbert and 1898 Adam Mickiewicz Monument. Rising above the square are the Gothic towers of St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki).
This is the Cloth Hall. These horses and carriages were everywhere and easily available for hire. In fact one of the problems of Krakow is the pushiness of people trying to persuade you onto tours.
The St. Mary’s Basilica. We had a look at and in St Mary’s. It is quite something. We went into the entrance, just, to have a quick look. You are not allowed to take photos but it was most ornate inside.
We went out and sat in the square for a while and saw, or heard, the bugler announce 10.00 am.
On every hour, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the taller of St. Mary’s two towers. The plaintive tune breaks off in mid-stream, to commemorate the famous 13th century trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack on the city. The noon-time hejnał is heard across Poland and abroad broadcast live by the Polish national Radio 1 Station.
It was rather lovely.
This video by Pavel Hrabica shows it so much better.
We then moved up to the City Defence Walls and the St. Florian’s Gate or Florian Gate (Polish: Brama Floriańska) .
The tower, first mentioned in 1307, had been built as part of a protective rampart around Kraków after the Tatar attack of 1241 which destroyed most of the city. The gate named after St. Florian became the main entryway to the Old Town. It was connected by a long bridge to the circular barbican (Barbakan) erected of brick on the other side of the moat. The Gate was manned by the Kraków Furriers Guild.
The Gate tower is 33.5 metres tall. The Baroque metal “helmet” that crowns the gate, constructed in 1660 and renovated in 1694, adds another metre to the height of the gate. Brama Floriańska is the only city gate, of the original eight built in the Middle Ages, that was not dismantled during the 19th-century “modernization” of Kraków.
The south face of St. Florian’s Gate is adorned with an 18th-century bas-relief of St. Florian. The tower’s north face bears a stone eagle that was carved in 1882 by Zygmunt Langman, based on a design by painter Jan Matejko. Inside the gate is an altar with a late-Baroque copy of a classicist painting of the Piaskowa Madonna.
Just beautiful here. There were two men in Polish costume performing some music with accordion, trumpet and singing. It was lovely. We stopped in the shade and had something to eat and drink. I had mineral water and a Twix.
There are wonderful churches just everywhere.
They are very ornate, inside and out. we went inside this one.
We then headed way down following the park at the edge of the Old Town and ended at Wawel Castle. We meant to see this another day but went in. Mobbed but loveley.
Then we headed back up getting a bit lost. We went to a loo and had an icecream. Again incredibly cheap. We went back to the Florian Gate and had our lunch there. I had bought coke. It’s cheaper than water! I had a lovely fresh roll with cheeses, a banana and some of yesterday’s big bag of crisps.
We rested and then went and found the railway and bus station, Krakow Glowny (seems to mean Krakow ‘Main’) . It took a while to suss it out but we found an information desk. So tomorrow we get a bus at 9.10 at stance G2 to take us to Auschwitz.
We then found our way back to the Main Square and had a rest, then bought a lot of presents to take home.
We heard the bugle again at 3.00.
We got a chess set for Charlie.
We headed down and came to Wawel Castle.
Had a picnic in a park near it. Then used the satnav to take us back wearily to Abel Hostel. That was a walk of 9.0 miles.
We went to a small Polish Milk Bar for our tea (Bistro pod 13 ka). We had Polish pork fillets done in batter with chips. Absolutely delicious. It cost 30 zl ie. about £6.00 for the two us, utterly amazing. We went to the Spar we have found and got supplies for tomorrow. Then we went down to the river and sat for a long time. We walked down to the other bridge and as we headed back passed Bazilika Bozego Giala (Basilica of Corpus Christi) and went to look in. They were holding mass but a man beckoned us to come in so we went and sat down through it. It did not feel evil. It was very solemn. There was an old lady and a young man who were obviously worshiping. If we believe Jesus Christ is God, I believe we are saved. It was most interesting. We probably walked another 2 miles.
This is our probable route constructed once back home.
So we have walked at least 11 miles today!
We came back and managed to contact Mairi with Skype phone calls.
Krakow is a wonderful city. The people are very up for it. There are very few obese people. There are very few coloured people. The Polish are on the whole very attractive people. Some are exceedingly nice. The man that sold us the chess sets was lovely.