Thursday, 20 March 2014

Winter Spirit day 16-17: Kraków

Day 16: Budapest to Krakow.
We left Hungary, driving through Slovakia, and again had each meal in a different country. Lunch was at a restaurant in a ski town that took a lot longer than usual. Toby and I both had pancakes (which we thought were platzky but weren't) filled with chicken livers. It was delicious! Maree had platzky with blue cheese on top which looked amazing!

We had a hotel tonight and dinner was included. After dinner our leader organises a pub crawl for us, going to 4 different pubs and clubs and getting a welcome shot at each one. The first bar had an open bar for 1 hour and they free poured shots. Needless to say, we had a very fun night, even though you can smoke in bars in Poland and it really didn't help my cough. Turns out Macdonalds in Poland sell crumbed broccoli, and apparently I was very vocal about my amazement of this. We ended up getting home at about 3am.

Day 17: Kraków
Today we did a walking tour of the city. After last night a lot of us, including me, weren't feeling so fantastic. The tour started at Wawel castle where we learnt the story behind the name of the Kraków. In the castle there is a dragons den, and in the den was a sleeping dragon. The people of the city had to be careful not to wake the dragon because bad things would happen. Then some teenage boys went in to see if there really was a dragon, they wondered around then cave and bumped into something soft that wasn't a wall. It was the dragon, and he woke up and started terrorising the city and eating all the sheep and virgins, until one man, a shoemaker decided to make a fake sheep filled with poison from his shoe making and stick it in front of the cave. The dragon was tricked and ate the sheep, and his tummy started burning so he went to the river for a drink. He drank so much water he exploded and the city was saved, and named Krakow to thank the shoemaker. There is a metal dragon outside the den which blows fire every 8 minutes, which happened just after our tour leader was saying the dragon ate virgins(which used to mean young women, not what it means today).
We then walked to the Rynek Glowny, the main market square, and St Mary's cathedral. The Cathedral has a tower where a trumpeter plays every hour on the hour, to commemorate the guard who died mid song when the mongols came to attack the city. The city was prepared to fight them when the arrived because they were warned by the guard who started playing his trumpet when he saw them coming, which was the fastest way to warn them, but was shot in the neck by an arrow. We then walked to the old wall of the city and the barracks.
Then it was time for the tour of the Wieliczka salt mines. We walked down stairs to 64m below ground which felt like they went on forever. We met our guide, and walked through passages, past many amazing sculptures, all made from mine workers out of the rock salt. There was even a chapel made out of salt, with a sculpture of the last supper made of salt, and chandlers made of crystal salt. We ended up 135m below ground. Thankfully there was a lift back up, and we got back on the bus to go back to the city for some food. We visited the Wawel castle and cathedral first, but unfortunately the dragons den was closed. We went to a 'milk bar' for lunch that was recommended by our tour guide as somewhere that locals eat and were not disappointed! I got goulash with potato pancake, and everyone got a serving of polish dumplings called pierogi. The food was delicious, really really cheap, and we got a lot!

After our late lunch we went back to the market square to see St Mary's cathedral and were lucky enough to hear the trumpet play. We got some souvenirs and went back to the hotel to check out the shopping mall across the road, spend some of our leftover money and get an early night.

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