It’s a sunny Saturday morning in Krakow, and with the weather forecast decidedly variable for the coming days it seems like a good time to get plenty of fresh air. This is entirely unconnected to the small hangover as a result of last night’s shenanigans at the Bull Dog Pub.
Lots of cities have ancient walls, but the remaining ones here were largely demolished in the 19th century. In it’s place came the Planty – a green oasis which makes for a pleasant walk combining some of the main sites around the Old Town.
The picture here doesn’t tell the entire story; the place is pretty busy with locals walking their dogs and tourists checking out some of the landmarks en route. This includes the Palace of Art, which has the name suggests is an art gallery. The great thing here is that there’s an ever changing number of collections on show, and today we are treated to the vibrant work of Krzysztof Ludwin. T
o idiots like me, the pictures at first seem to be random splashes of paint, but the descriptions helpfully inform us that these are major cities around the world, given a rather lovely interpretation. This, clearly, is how he sees Krakow.
OK, maybe not so clear. All of the paintings are in this similar style, and concentrate on places with plenty of colour; South America features heavily, as does Paris.
After such audacity it’s time for contemplation, and just around the corner is St Ann’s church. There are bigger and more impressive places of worship here – yet whoever designed this interior may well have taken inspiration from others, certainly in terms of its grandeur.
I think we’re gonna need the big step ladder for this one lads.
It’s virtually a given that when on holiday you meet someone from back home, often just a few streets away from you. This doesn’t quite happen here, but a random encounter with two American tourists leads to the most bizarre conversation. The couple are from Seattle, but their son lives in what she thinks to be Manchester Woodhouse. The name “Woodhouse” is very distinctively not from Manchester, but Nottinghamshire. I ask if she means Mansfield Woodhouse, and it turns out to be correct. Even more strangely, she then does on to tell me that she loves England and got addicted to Bacon Cobs. Now I know she’s talking about Mansfield Woodhouse – since referring to a cob is definitely an East Midlands thing, Before their tram arrives, I g onto explain the phrase “Ey up me duck”. I ddn’t expect that to happen in Poland.
The brief but memorable exchange is over, and it’s time to claim Wawel Hill, a place of fortifications and general showing off for centuries. There’s a huge cathedral, a royal palace and a tower. There’s also a group of men in costume entertaining the crowds with traditional Polish songs. One of which is sung to the rune Roll Out The Barrel. It’s Saturday lunchtime and the place is bustling to the extent that I can’t be bothered with the long queues for the ticket office. To be honest, the place looks just great from the outside.
One of the better things about Wawel is the main public areas are free. There’s also a great terrace cafe outside the palace where prices aren’t too hugely inflated. Tea and a delicious apple pie costs about £4.
Yet more streets lined with history guide me back to the Od Town Square. I feel that I’ve seen enough inside this area for now – and plan an evening exploring an entirely different side of religion.