Oh man, so much to tell you guys!
So after I logged off last night, we walked 20 minutes to the Prague train station. We could have taken the metro, but our local friend Brian warned us that it was just as much walking, but only underground. So we opted for above ground view. But, um, when we arrived to the train station (which was very old… maybe 1900s?) many of the doors were closed, and as we followed the arrows to where to enter, we found one door propped open, and it was PITCH DARK inside. Except for one hallway with a light on and some sort of terrifying, creepy janitor dude mopping the floor and glaring at us. I am not kidding when I tell you this was the start of a horror movie. I will have nightmares about this for ages.
We frantically looked around and saw a light ahead. In the main rotunda of the pitch black station, there was a balcony below where it was lit and we could see many travelers, so we finally found the stairs and made our way down to what was a clean, modern, full shopping mall-type train station. So much less scary. Wow. That upstairs? That was the stuff of legend, I tell you.
We made our way onto the train, and kids? It was so cool. We think our car was from the 50s or 60s — it was very retro, and we had a private cabin with two beds, a medicine cabinet and a sink. Here is a photo of our train car that I put on Instagram here. Cool, eh?
Overall, I think it was a great experience… as long as the train was moving. I slept fine and was comfortable… until we stopped at the Czech border for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night. Since we were still, the train heated up (I was on the top bunk, so it was very warm) and with the windows open, you could hear the sounds of the other trains at the station and the station announcements and the workers walking by etc etc. When the train *finally* started moving again, I fell back asleep instantly and all was good. But all-in-all we only got about 4 hours of sleep, and when we arrived in Krakow a nap was the first order of business.
But after that? Holy Moly! We explored this city, and I love it so much! It’s just as charming as Prague (maybe more so since there are far fewer tourists?), the food so far has been wonderful, and the shopping is fantastic! In Prague, most of the shopping was aimed so specifically at tourists, but here there are tons of marvelous boutiques and locally-made goods, and the people are super friendly as well. Plus? Cobblestone streets everywhere and horse-drawn carriages (those ARE aimed at tourists) but the sound of the hooves on the stone all day and night is lovely.
Now, I’m not gonna lie, it appears that Krakow has had a much more difficult time recovering from communism than Prague — there seems to be more poverty here, but I am still smitten. As an example though, I did photograph one of the more communist-era buildings here. And the tram cars also remind me of something out of a Jason Bourne movie (you’ll see those in my photo set).
After much walking around (and a quick trip back to the apartment to change — it’s cold here! And raining!) we made our way to dinner. I talked Jamie into sharing some Latke appetizer and a sampler platter of 6 different kinds of pierogi. The menu said it was good for 2 people to share, and the waitress looked doubtful at us when we insisted this was all that we wanted. I am not lying when I say it is good for five people to share. We brought our leftovers home, and we’ll be snacking on them all week (delicious, by the way! And no, not on my diet at all!).
I’ve posted more images from today over here. Tomorrow we go to Auschwitz, so brace yourselves for somber images.
*Oh! The photo above is the ceiling at St. Mary’s Basilica in the main square. It was a tad ornate.