Is the old Polish capital and is also situated on the Vistula River and has a population of around one million. Its point of difference with other major cities and town in Poland is that it remained virtually untouched by the Germans. This has meant that the town has expanded over time from the centre, architecture and roads change slightly as you move away, so that the town is more blended.Once again we chose to stay in the older part of town, a few hundred metres from the main square. A very large space which holds an agora-style market place in the middle, a large church off to one side and a clock tower to the other. Here the energy comes from tourists and locals; the stall holders in the square; the outside cafes; the commuters; people going to mass(there is an inordinate amount of churches, everywhere you go) – not a formal observation, but an integration, quite a noticeable difference to Warsaw. One of the Kings decided to pull down the wall which surrounded the old town and turned it into parkland by which you can walk around the perimeter. Incorporated into the old wall is Wawel Castle, a huge fortress which overlooks the river, with steep solid red brick walls encompassing it. The day we decided to check it out was the coldest and windiest day we had during the week; birds were being pushed by the force of it. Tony was so cold he bought himself a “biggles” hat with ear muffs to keep his ears warm!!!
We spent our half day, taking a tour to give an overview of the area. We were able to see parts we wouldn’t necessarily see by foot. We saw the Jewish Quarter; the Ghetto (where Polish prisoners and later Jews were incarcerated before being moved to concentration camps) and Schindlers Factory. I so wanted to take a tour of this, but it went for an hour and a half and it was already 5.30 when we got there, so unlucky!!
On our last day, we explored every laneway and building in the Old Town. There are a lot of courtyards hidden behind arched entrance-ways from streets, cobbled and often two storey with greenery hanging from handrails and balconies; museums are often old houses with small shingles hung out the front, we often walk past and had to double back; the square has discreetly placed venues for concerts, theatre and opera, generally in the older privately owned homes, which some space has been “donated” to the performing arts – we went to a Chopin recital in such a place, which we both liked, unexpectedly, as neither of us know much about the Arts.
We have got into the habit of eating one largish meal a day, around early to mid-afternoon…it means we can eat up big and work it off thru’ walkingJ Tony likes to experiment with the local food and has been enticed by chicken liver sauté; goose in plum sauce; duck’s breast (several times); potato pancakes with creamy mushroom sauce just to mention a few…I’m a little less adventurous and stick to the safer dishes, still great, but safe!