It’s funny how the weather can make all the difference.
After a most wonderful week in Budapest I hopped on an early morning bus bound for Krackow in southern Poland. The trip cost 4500 HUF (R150) and sped through Slovakia under a grey and misty sky, dilligently stopped for at a Polish border control point (which was just a grim-looking official standing on the side of the road) and arrived in Krakow just after lunch.
The grey sky from green Slovakia followed me here, and I saw the city from under the protection of an umbrella. On my travels to different cities I’ve found that I can sometimes find my way around without any hassles, but at other times get lost everytime I set foot outside the door. This happened in Krakow. For some reason the geography of the city elluded me and within two days I had been lost three times – once late at night in the pouring rain on a borrowed bicycle with no brakes. I may have had a small cry that night, but the next morning put it down to adventure, borrowed a pair of gumboots, thick socks and an umbrella from my cs host and joined a (free walking) tour led by a guide full of quirky facts about the city and its people.
Rain aside, the city is beautiful and the Old Town is a wonderful maze of cobbled streets, tall buildings, decorated churches, stately statues and a throng of tourists. The Euro Championship is on the moment and is being played in Poland and Ukraine so many of the tourists are in fact football fans here to support their teams. And drink beer of course.
Krakow was a tragic site during Nazi occupation and the Holocaust. On the tour around the old Jewish quarter we saw buildings that were once synagogues, that were once homes and businesses but are now only memorials to the thousands of people who were sent to the the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp, and never returned home. Krakow is also home to Schindler’s factory, the infamous business that was the salvation of some.