June 30 - July 8, 2002
Krakow is a wonderful city. Go there. There are already a lot of tourists but if you wait there will be a lot more. They will never ruin it, just as the hordes of tourists don't ruin Paris. But it is better when you can to have the illusion that you sort of have it to yourself. To enjoy fine food at moderate prices. To wander museums without having to battle huge crowds.
We first became acquainted with the "In Your Pocket" series of guides in Bucharest, Romania, where one of our fellow guests at Elvis's Hostel swore by it. We thought the Krakow one was a very handy guide to the city, especially for its price, although we preferred something with a little more detail if we could find it.
Our hotel was just down the street from the old barbican and this remnant of the city wall. Our first evening was spent wandering from the wall along the street known as the Royal Mile down to Rynex Glowny , Krakow's spectacular 13th centruy market square. The walk quickly convinced us that we were indeed back in the first world. Around us we heard all of the languages of Europe and the variety and quality of shops were just a notch higher than what we had found in Ukraine.
We saw our second opera of the year in Krakow at the lovely Krakow Opera. A small house, it has just been beautifully refurbished. We were disappointed that the performance of Verdi's Macbeth we wanted had been cancelled, but were more than mollified when instead we saw a very funny production of Rossini's Barber of Seville. We suffered from "newcomers syndrome" when we tried to get tickets. There are two opera houses and we traipsed a good deal to the wrong one to get tickets since we could see that this one, almost visible from the Hotel Polonaia, was being reconstructed. But we were just sent back here.
The streets of Krakow are peppered with great places to eat outdoors, like the restaurant pictured, entered down a private alley from Kanonicza street (pictured). Every so often, however, you have to keep your eyes peeled and peer into every doorway to discover those quiet courtyards hidden from view that offer a great place for rest and recuperation like the one here.
And what Catholic city would be without its churches. Those of Krakow were many and varied and all worth a visit. Here are one or two examples.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul