The Old Man at Wawel Castle

August 15, 2011 - 11:02 pm No Comments

Woke up sweating and sore. Out the window, a beautiful sunrise over the Polish countryside.

Good Morning, Poland!

We gathered our things and prepared for our early morning arrival in Krakow.

After dropping our bags at the Hotel Polonia, we walked around Krakow’s historical center and finished in the enormous town square, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The lanes radiating outward from the square, with tall, flat rowhouses lining either side, reminded me of small towns I visited in Ireland. Polish signage makes the language seem very complicated. Lots of consecutive consonants, accents everywhere.

Rynek G?o?wny


At the end of our walk, we found a small church with its doors open and music pouring out. After all the hustle and bustle, we welcomed a few minutes of peace, so we took seats at the back and soaked in the unusual and beautiful guitar and violin processional. When you’re traveling, little surprises like this make it special.

Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

On the rainy streets of Krakow’s historical center, there are a few tourists walking around, but the Poles stick out. Most of them are pale and malnourished-looking, and their faces express something between emptiness and confusion and displeasure. Their eyes are lifeless and sunken, almost like their souls have been hollowed out. Eye contact is met with eye contact, not out of friendliness, but out of paranoia. Given that Poland was particularly devastated by WWII just a few generations ago, is it possible the people of Poland are still a little shell-shocked from it?


Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

After the blazing afternoon sun came out, most of the group took a bike tour around the city, but Frank and I didn’t have it in us. Instead, we had lunch and a beer at one of the local cafes and took a leisurely stroll to Krakow’s main tourist attraction, Wawel (VAH-vel) Castle.

Juliusz S?owacki Theatre

Obwarzanek Krakowski

Horse Drawn Carriage at the Sukiennice

Frank at Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle is so massive that it’s hard to photograph from the outside. We circled it, climbed up the steps, and wandered around a bit inside.

The Dragon of Krakow

Inner Courtyard at Wawel Castle

Cathedral at Wawel Castle

As we headed out, we were stopped by an old man who was looking for the residence of a specific historical figure on the castle grounds. For some reason, this old man thought that I, with my tank top and tripod, would know.

He was German and 83 years old. In heavily accented English, he went on to tell us how “full of fear” he was as a 15-year-old boy in Nazi Germany when Berlin was being heavily bombed by the Allies. At one point, his class was split into two halves. The other half was hiding in a gymnasium when it was bombed, killing everyone in it. He went on to tell us that he was recruited to shoot anti-aircraft guns. “So much fear, so much fear…”

"Eros Bendato" & Town Hall Tower

At dinner, Tomi challenged me to a pierogi-eating contest. Despite his smallish frame, he beat me badly. Apparently, when he was in the US a few years back, he won competitive eating contests with ease. They called him the “Beast from the East.”


Before calling it a night, Tomi took us to the Jazz Rock Cafe, a basement bar with grotesquely mutilated baby dolls in display cases on the walls. Kirtan and I started talking movies, laughing at Frank when he said that Matt Damon, and not Mark Wahlberg, was in “The Fighter”. Frank owes us a round for that one.

Jazz Rock Cafe

Scary Baby Doll

It was hot today, and I’m completely spent. Tomorrow is our day trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which we’re all a little nervous about.

Leave a Reply