TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! And here I am, back with Day 2. As promised, we are off to Krakow (pronounced Krak-uff). We boarded the 8:15 train and settled down for a four and a half hour journey. It was rather long, but we found ways to occupy ourselves such as observing the beautiful countryside and eating food, an important use of one’s time, I suppose, if one does in fact need to eat. I, however, do not.
The train arrived at Krakow Glowny right on time and my humans, in their over-exuberance to leave the station left by the wrong exit and became very confused. Eventually they worked out where they were and where they needed to be, but by this time I had got bored and was taking a cat nap. To access the Old Town (our first stop), we had to cut back through the station and Galleria (a shopping centre). On next stepping into the sunlight, we were in a large open plaza and from here it was but a short walk over to the city defensive wall which was lovely, huge and well preserved (or possibly rebuilt). Within the city wall was St Florian’s Gate, a fancy gate at the crown of the Royal Route. That was quite a good pun actually (or maybe I mean metaphor?). After a few photos, we crossed through the Gate, and were once more outside the wall. Here was the Basilica which we took a look at and a metal model of the wall. Very nice work.
We then re-entered the city wall and started our walk down the Royal Route. There are many, many churches in Krakow which we took a lot of pictures of, as well as other assorted fancy buildings. We reached the end of the Royal Route and entered the Main Square which was pretty large and complete with another church. The square was rather crowded and featured a surprisingly large number of horse drawn carriages and a batten-twirling display by some children. It was quite impressive but I didn’t really understand it, I suppose it’s not a cat thing. There was also a large statue of a dead poet (the statue is not of a dead poet, the poet it is a statue of is now dead in real life – I thought I should just clarify that) and a large building in the middle which might have been the old town hall.
We exited the square at the south end and wandered aimlessly while we decided what to do next. A helpful map-sign appeared to inform us we were very close to Wavel Hill, a giant fort on the bank of the River Vistula. The very same River Vistula I thought we had left behind in Warsaw. Alas, no, we had not left it in Warsaw. It was following us! We wandered through a lovely (water-free) park with some perfect trees and benches, we didn’t need to go near the river, we could have stayed here for hours.
But no, my water magnets wanted to go to the giant hill fort by the horrid river. We climbed the slope high up to the fort, where we entered under a portcullis (dangerous!) and began to walk around, unsure of how much was free to enter. As it turned out, quite a lot. We began wandering around the battlements where I was severely disappointed by the total absence of cannons. It’s not a holiday if I don’t get to sit on or in (preferably in) a cannon. I will survive though, this isn’t the only castle fort we are planning to visit on this holiday. The views from the battlements were quite spectacular, even if a lot of them did feature the very large river. We then entered the centre area of the fort, where there was a big cathedral with a golden dome and two very tall green towers, one with a bell and the other with a clock which chimed every quarter of an hour.
We returned to the battlements and saw a very cool tall tower, but unfortunately it seemed one had to pay to enter. My feline desire to be as high as possible at all times was scuppered and I had to make do with looking over the battlements at the puny humans below.
My humans then decided they wanted to visit the river (why?!) and so descended from our great height to river level. Thankfully, our visit to the river didn’t last long and we were back up on the battlements not a minute too soon.
We were attempting to make a circuit of the fort but were met with a locked door (how rude) meaning we were forced to double back on ourselves and re-cross the courtyard to once again stand in the fort’s centre. From here, we left through another portcullis into an area which showed us why the buildings of the fort were in such good condition. Floor-to-ceiling scaffolding encased the inner walls of the buildings in this courtyard and renovating work was in progress. Stellar job, folks, well done.
On leaving this courtyard, we were faced with more locked doors (I tell you, that is very rude behaviour) and so we set off back across the courtyard searching for the elusive Dragon’s Den. Yes, readers, there is a real-life fire-breathing dragon living under the fort. As it cost money to visit the dragon, the humans decided not to visit and we finished up our tour of the battlements. So you’ll just have to take my word that the dragon is real!
With two hours left until we had to be back on the train, we decided it was time to visit the Jewish Quarter. Here, to no one’s surprise, we saw a lot of synagogues, although no Jewish priests which was disappointing in comparison to the large number of Christian priests, monks and nuns freely wandering the rest of the city. We journeyed to Szeroka Street, a famous street in this quarter and observed the Jewish Square. Here was a restaurant proclaiming Falafel and Happiness, my humans agreed falafel was a type of happiness. We now had little over an hour left in this lovely city, we hit the souvenir shops via a statue of two mathematicians on a bench, having a mathematical discussion about… well, me, presumably.
We then decided it would be a good time to visit some places outside of the Old Town. We exited the city wall and close to the station found a wonderful blue metal bridge (it could have been improved by being pink, but still, it was lovely). Said bridge turned out to be two bridges, one foot and one train, we crossed the foot bridge, not being a train, and then descended some steps to the road below. From here we wandered up the road to a park which may have been part cemetery or memorial garden. There were a large number of head stone-plaque type things about many people, who I’m sure were very famous in Krakow. Although one was Pope John Paul Two, so we did recognise one of them!
We sat and relaxed in this maybe cemetery until it was time to board the train back to Warsaw. It was a great, fun day trip (with the exception of the water), we took the express train which stopped at only three stations, all in Warsaw. Forget the four and a half hours it took to get here, this return train was only two and a half. According to the board scrolling along above the carriage door, we reached speeds in excess of 150km/h. This is in the region of 93mph for those who like your distances in imperial units.
The journey back was surprisingly quick seeing as our seats didn’t have a window (how dare this be?). Soon we were returned to Warsaw and took the opportunity to revisit Nice Cream Factory – I told you what would happen when food was so cheap!
Charlie’s ice cream was apple pie, Oreo and granola, almost like a chocolate apple crumble. Jack had a cocoa, Oreo and cherry jelly ice cream creation and an apple pie, Oreo and salted caramel milkshake. These two love Oreos it would seem.
All were thoroughly enjoyed by my humans. I get the feeling they’ll be there tomorrow night as well!
Now Day 2 is over, join me tomorrow as we explore Warsaw Old Town and catch our first (and only) night train of this trip as we travel onto Prague. Until then folks, Chesh.