Krakow Travel Blog› entry 25 of 33 › view all entries
I arrived late the previous night in Krakow, and there was little more than I could do than check in to the hotel that my friends had found for me. They did a great job, I was very pleased with the place!
The next morning I woke up early, I only had one day to really see Krakow. The next day I wanted to spend in Auschwitz and also at the salt mine if there was time. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. It was going to be a beautiful day...right?
My morning walk through Krakow took me to the main square of the town. It was there that I had the first glimpse of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary (which I'll talk more about in a bit), and the town's covered shopping "mall".
I left the main square knowing that I would come back later. I wanted to see Krakow's Castle before it got too busy. As I walked the streets of Krakow, I realized just how beautiful the town was - and I knew that there was no way I would see everything in a day. I passed a church on the way to the castle that was bustling with activity. I looked inside, and - a wedding was taking place! I tried to watch for a few minutes along with other people who were standing in the back, but a mean lady came and told us all to leave.
Anyway, I continued on to the castle. It's free to walk around some of the grounds, but the rest you have to pay for. I got in line to buy a ticket, and I am glad I did when I did - apparently they only sell a certain number of tickets a day for each attraction, no matter how many people show up wanting one. There were some tickets left for the sites I wanted to see, so I was all right - although some things were sold out and it was still quite early.
I continued my walk on the grounds of the castle, and then headed into Wawel Cathedral. This large cathedral on the castle grounds is the final resting place of many members of the Polish royal party, poets, war heroes, saints, and many others.
Myth states that many years ago there was a small village near Wawel Hill. At the base of this hill was a cave that no man had ever ventured into. The people of the town told stories of a sleeping dragon in that cave, and that no one should ever go inside to wake it. However, the youth of the town did not believe this story, and ventured into the cave to disprove it. With their torches, they walked through the cave until they came across a large, scaly obstruction.
True enough, there is a 200 meter cave at the base of Wawel Hill, and as I wandered down there I saw the dragon himself! Be sure to check out my picture of him.
After I had completed my rounds of the castle, I headed back to the main square and went to the Basilica of the Virgin Mary. This basilica also has a bell tower, so I went to the top and got some great pictures. If you ever hear the hourly chime for this basilica, you will notice that it suddenly stops in the middle of the chime. The reason for this is that back in the day, during some war, a trumpeteer was giving the hourly call when he was struck in the throat with an arrow. Ever since then they have played the chime and suddenly cut them off part way through.
I continued my walk through the city, not realizing that it was getting cloudier and cloudier. Suddenly (for me, anyway), there was a huge downpour and I was caught in the middle of it. With nowhere to go, I ducked into a bookstore with a bunch of other people. I didn't even have a poncho or an umbrella with me, I was very unprepared. Whenever it let up, I would run as far as I could before it started pouring again. I ended up in a McDonalds for a while (but I did not eat anything there!). Finally, as quickly as it came on, it stopped raining altogether.
I had dinner in a little restaurant near the main square, the food was very cheap. I ate my first plate and then decided I was still hungry, and ordered another one (they were like $3 a piece).
On my way back to the hostel for the night, I stopped at the Barbican, which was a defensive post in the heart of the city. I am not sure how much it was used, but it was neat to see. Before I left the Barbican though, I heard music from the main square. I went back there to see a couple different bands playing all different kinds of music. It was a neat way to end the day.