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Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
Trip End Mar 09, 2008

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Flag of Poland  ,
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Krakow is where Claude and I had agreed to meet after her Ghanaian adventures. As a result, this was always more of a place to catchup, hear stories and (for her) enjoy a return to a world with hot running water, coffee, and toilets.

A day at the office sandwiched between two hour long forays through Sydney traffic will, on 100% of occasions, yield a Claudine returning home starting three conversational threads at the same time, trying to pour out words at a higher than intelligible volume, involve sentences fractured by snorty Mutley laughing, brook no interruption bar for clarification of which conversational thread is now being pursued, and can extend until she falls asleep - having finished none of the stories - at about 9:30p.m. That sentence was probably tiring and confusing, and that was part of the point.

That is what flows after we haven't seen each other for 9 hours and haven't done anything more exciting than invest a few hours with Excel and Outlook and honked the horn a few times.

So you can imagine the conversation that poured forth after she gorged herself on 30 days worth of high quality stimulii and, thanks to appalling internet penetration in Sega, very little ability to share it. It took about 56 hours just for me to respond, "Hello", back.

Krakow plays its background role very well. We weren't particularly good tourists, but the sights are geared toward being walked through on your way somewhere rather than stared at and ticked off. A majestic town square, old churches, an incredible town hall, and a rather indifferent castle. Indeed, the true genius of our selection of a meeting point is that Krakow is a triumphant city for food.

I had found a great little cafeteria a day before Claude arrived. A good solid walk from the hotel, and far enough away from the tourist mecca to mean hearty lunch for two averaged about $7. Zurek, I can assure you, is a word to enter into Yahoo (yeah, going retro, I tire of google), to find a traditional Polish baba's recipe. Picture a thick potato based soup made with acres of smoked ham, continental parseley (a guess), more potatoes, halved boiled eggs, and pepper. It may not sound like much to those reading in a Sydney summer. When you are coming in from the snow, its the best dollar you'll ever part with*.

*Except for Lviv biscuits. When Claude asked what I did with my time, this was the first thing I recalled. But I digress.

To follow one's soup, an array of local steamed dumplings (pierogi, half Chinese in feel, but very Eastern Europe in filling) are mandatory. Ordering two plates to avoid a return to the snowy streets is enjoyable if a little debaucherous.

Every meal was a delight, in large part because the firsthand account of Claude's time in Ghana was amazing. She is weighing up how to put it all into print, how to manage the loss of context that comes with doing things electronically, so I strongly advise you to ask about Ghana when you see her, even if you have few other travel interests. Its a whole amazing other world.

On the Krakow front, we mostly enjoyed the city by night where the dramatic dimensions of the square and its surroundings are best set off. While frequently the gaps between lunch, afternoon tea and dinner became quite narrow, a walk across the square and back to our hotel was enough to convince us that we were at least getting some exercise. There is now just one month until we are heading on a four day 45km hike at altitude at Macchu Picchu. The tour provider recommends doing 15km walks, and is making disconcertingly scant reference to a diet high in dumplings and hot chocolate.

This was our week 'at home'. The diet can start next week.

* * *

I can't add too much about Krakow.  I know that I liked the place - even thought it became pitch black at 4:20pm.  It was nice and cold, I had cappucinos and warm soups and hot running water came out of the ceiling.  Nice!

* * *

Concept of the (working) USB port not well known in Moldova, and unlikely to be better known anywhere we are going in the coming week. So photos will follow "sometime".

Yay for Windows 95.
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