I left the train station in Warsaw to Krakow on a journey of about a couple of hours. I made the journey during the night and we arrived in Krakow very early, around seven in the morning, and the sun had not yet made an appearance.
Krakow is known for being the former Polish capital when this country was still an empire.
I walked about ten blocks down Gertrudy Avenue to Sarego Street. It was a particularly ugly street and I hoped that the hostel I was going to stay in was in good condition. I didn't ask for much more, just a nice place to rest from the cold Polish and the difficult language. The area was called Stradom, delimited with the Jewish quarter and I was a few blocks from the old city, the most touristic part of Krakow.
Krakow Castle View
It took me a while to find the building, it was that it was not in my head that it was precisely that one. It was semi-abandoned, no number or lock, it seemed taken by squatters. The photos on the Internet showed it differently, large, bright rooms, in good condition, with their own kitchen and even free bicycles to tour the city.
It was not what I expected, but the receptionist, Aga, was very kind and upon learning that I am Argentine she was happy since she studies Spanish. He intended to leave Poland to move to Spain, according to her, where he would suffer less from the cold. I had a nice surprise with that, I could finally speak my language.
My days in Warsaw were more complicated, the people of the hostel had been splendid but my English is not quite good. Only one boy spoke Spanish, he was from Conneticut, United States.
Aga, the hostel receptionist gave me her phone number, told me to call her, that when she left her other job she would show me the city and we would go out with her friends. I did not call her. Not because of rudeness but because I preferred to lose myself alone in the city and be without any company to bind me.
As a tour guide once told Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski:
(...) to know the world, its people and culture, far from being a pleasure is an effort that demands concentration and loneliness (...) All creative work demands loneliness and concentration. It is written being alone, also when painting a picture and from the same perspective we contemplate the knowledge of the world, you also have to be alone during a trip.
He was the only guest of the hostel, a rather dark and large house. To my surprise, for being Friday, there was no one left at the reception. They gave me the key to the place. It was quite strange but it didn't alarm me.
There were bicycles on one side, battered pots and the appearance of being unsafe. It was nine in the morning so I decided to go for a walk and get to know a little about that city.
I walked to the old city, I changed money, in Poland they still use their currency, the Zloty. I decided to get lost, I found a typical market where they sold handicrafts for tourists, the typical thing sold in any country, regional things and a large bridge with hanging works of art.
Krakow Market Square
At about three o'clock I decided to go to a museum, there were several and none really interested me. I chose one about the history of Krakow, but there was a room dedicated to Egyptian mummies, it seemed ridiculous. A waste of Zlotys.
In the central area there was a large church in which trumpets sounded every hour.
The cobbled streets were covered by people's feet. It was already night and not too late, only 6 pm. The central square was lit and I realized that I had not eaten all day. I found a place where they made good sausages and french fries.
Before returning to the hostel I found a record shop, the first one I saw in that city. There was no interesting album. I went back to the cold and took the direction to the hostel on Grdozka Street, then double into Dominikaska, an avenue, and went down Gertrudy.
A wanderer was stirring the garbage, that almost picturesque image reminded me of Buenos Aires.
Good luck to me, one more guest had entered, a boy from France. We were both alone. I studied electronics in some Scandinavian country, I don't know which one. We obligedly became friends. We were both using computers with the Internet, he wanted to find out for an excursion to the famous salt mines. I wanted to go to the castle. There was a good record collection in the hostel that I tyranically imposed on my new French friend. From John Zorn to Bad Brains, Henry Rollins and Tortois. That made me feel at home.EXCURSIONS BY CRACOVIA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS IN SPANISH
Little time in Poland? It may be a good idea to sign up for one of the following excursions Around the area. In all of them you will have a Spanish guideThey come with very good recommendations from other travelers and depart from the center of Krakow:
- Excursion to Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp
- Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour
- Excursion to Zakopane and the Tatras Mountains
- Guided and personalized tour of Krakow
I went to the nearest supermarket to buy something to eat, it was difficult for me to return to the hostel, when I realized I had taken three laps on the same four streets. I made scrambled eggs and bought chocolate to warm me up. At about ten I went to take a shower and went back to the Internet.
Around eleven we went to sleep. Each to a different room. Alone in the most murky building we could have fallen to. I was happy.
The next day I woke up at about nine o'clock, I wanted to see Aga but there was another woman instead. I had some cereal for breakfast and nothing else.
Visit to the Jewish quarter and Krakow Castle
I decided to visit the area called Kazimierz or "Jewish neighborhood"It was the closest I had to see. There would be about five synagogues in very good condition, one looked like a church, finding out I learned that it had been built by Catholics because the Jews could not practice professions.
It was sad to see that deteriorated area, some anti-Semitic graffiti and few people in the street.