Arriving in Krakow

Trip Start Dec 05, 2013
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Flag of Poland  , Lesser Poland Voivodeship,
Friday, December 6, 2013

I arrived in Krakow at about 12:30pm local time. My first challenge was to grab some Polish cash (zloty) from an ATM. I drew 350zl (about $120) no problem. Then I had to grab a bus or train into the city proper. The location of the train was not obvious, so I decided to try the bus. The ticket machine was a bit prickly; it would only take coins. I had to buy a sort of poppy seed roll from the station to break my bills, then it was back to the bus. My fear with buses though, especially abroad, is that you take a chance that they don't announce any stops. Such was the case, but there were some Spaniards with suit cases, so I figured I'd just get off with them. On the bus ride, my first impression of the city was that the houses were very large, and had taken a lot of influence from the communist era architecture. The buildings are very boxy with few windows, and often made of cement.

The Spaniards got off when we hit a main street, but I was too slow to the door and had to get off at the following stop. There weren't any signs for the old town, so I walked in the direction of the stop I had missed. I knew this main street wouldn't lead to the center, so eventually I just turned in the direction that I assumed would lead me there. As I was walking, I started seeing more and more people, then people with roller suitcases, and then larger groups of people. I followed them until I finally emerged into the west end of the old town square. The square is very large for a town of this size, including a church, a large open-air building called the "Cloth Hall", and a small tower. I walked through the cloth hall and the Christmas market setup next to it. The smell of onions and spiced wine filled the square. The architecture in the old town was very different than what I saw form the bus. The buildings had a more western European influence, with embellishments and tiled roofs. I spent a few minutes looking around before heading north to my hostel. Once I hit the square, it was easy to orient my self and the hostel was only a short walk. I later discovered that the main street I had been on makes a big circle around the old town, and eventually comes to the train station on the north. This would have been more convenient for me, but it was fun to forge my own path.
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