Drive through Southern Poland

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2006

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

In the morning, we begin the long drive to Krakow. But, despite some construction early on through Wroclaw, we make great time. Such good time, in fact, that we decide to go to the national park north of Krakow (Ojcow) before proceeding into town.

It takes a bit of wandering back roads to find the park, but we eventually are successful, and even discover the central place to leave the car. We begin to follow a trail that we think will lead down the valley, according to the map, but it doesn't. So we return to the car park, and walk through the village, along the stream. Supposedly, ruins of castles dot the hillsides, but we see one, looking more like an old cistern than a castle. But, still, the valley is lovely, and the architecture of the houses is very cute. We walk to a view point, then return to our car.

Driving through Krakow is complicated, what with all of the one-way roads, but we eventually find the hotel ... but can't park in the car park as its entrance is just up a one-way road. But we figure it out, being clever ducks, and go to the hotel. They have given away our rooms, but have made arrangements for us at a much nicer hotel, much closer to the town square, for the same price. I don't argue with such good luck. The manager will even guide us to the car park for the other hotel, which is lovely, other than he encourages Paul to drive the wrong way down a one-way street ... but tells us it's okay as the police aren't around.

The new hotel is indeed lovely and well-situated; we have two large rooms. From our window, Paul and I can make out the main square around the corner. We decide to find an interesting restaurant on the square. They have Mexican, so, in family tradition, we settle in for an amusing fare. It was strange but still tasty.

The streets are full of people, as there appears to be some sort of celebration going on. There's a bandstand set up, and banners everywhere. We see many old men in military uniforms, but also street performers (tomorrow is the beginning of the street theatre festival, I think), musicians, and most of Krakow's residents. We wander about the square, people-watching. It turns chilly, so we go to the hotel to get jackets, then wander some more, have ice cream, walk and walk. The atmosphere is so up-beat, communal, festive; we don't want to go back to the hotel and sleep ... but eventually do, being old. 
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