After yesterday’s intensity this was never going to be a tough day. The Holiday Inn is comfortable enough and better than it’s American counterparts but no place to hang out even if you want to take it easy. (This is something I have noticed across the globe – US Holiday Inn’s are the worst of the brand.) More Pierogies and Obwarzanek and coffee on the Main square…
And then some pinball! It’s an all day pass for the $5 so we figure get there early and come back later to make the best of it. Emma and Lily like ‘Attack from Mars’ the best this time with Adams Family a close second. They get into the ‘story’ of the game. I get the high score on game called ‘Euro-Bobble’ that apparently no one plays. Lily, competitively, tries right after me and beats my high score. But I have the picture.
Supposedly there is an Archery game somewhere near the base of Wawel Castle. Wawel Castle is a series of structures built on a hill overlooking the Vistula river. It was inhabited 50,000 years ago and was long a center for trade. But in the 14th Century by one of the great Kings of Poland Kazimirez the great who rebuilt the army, established the first University and generally put Poland back on the European map of the time. He was one of the first to begin Polands long history of tolerance for other religions, especially Judaism.
Wawel Castle is a mix of styles, which is what makes it most interesting, particularly the church with multiple spires deliberately built with different styles. The girls and I roam the grounds and the cherry blossoms are blooming. It’s not so packed, but there are definitely a lot of tourists – it’s Sunday after all.
At the base of the castle is a cave in which there was once a dragon who was poisoned with a sulfur laced lamb by a poor cobbler. The sulfur caused him to breath fire and be thirsty until he died. King Krakus, after whom the town is named, gave his daughter to the cobbler in thanks. (I totally get that. Teen daughters? You can have one.) The statue at the top of this page is a dragon that sometimes breathes fire but mostly is broken.
Archery is nowhere to be found but we got a good look at the castle and grounds. It’s a beautiful day in Krakow – Palm Sunday so there are parades and many church services. Pizza for lunch is just ok, New York Style reheated.
The girls claim that Poland is known for having the best ice cream and it’s ‘all over the Internet’. I’m not sure how Poland is winning the Internet Meme Ice Cream race, but they are succeeding with my kids demographic. “Let’s go to that one that had the longest line!’. Indeed we wait 15 minutes in line for a tall soft serve that is worth the wait. I don’t know if it’s the best soft serve ever but it’s pretty good. Lily adds to the Internet’s treasure of Polish Ice Cream photos with a selfie.
Our evening starts with a two hour Segway tour, one of our favorite ways to see small European cities. We did it in Grenada Spain and loved it a few years ago. Segways look dorky, and they are, but they are a lot of fun to operate and you can safely see so much more in a short time than walking or biking.
Having done the Wawel castle in the morning, we choose to go to Kazimirez, the former Jewish quarter of Krakow. Even ‘former’ seems exaggerated as we find out. Of the 60,000 Jews here before 1940, 400 remain. 400. We see a few synagogues but more churches on our tour of the quarter, though that’s not the guide fault. There just isn’t much Jewish culture past or present to see.
The ride at sunset is really fun and the banks of the Vistula river are packed with people walking in the brisk but clear weather. We joke around on the Segways, cutting each other off and bumping over curbs. All of us laugh a lot.
At night we go back for some pinball, but the novelty has worn off and we only stay briefly. For dinner we find a very nice restaurant in the Kazimiriex district we just rolled through. Emma gets snared by the ‘Grilled Cheese’ trick. They serve her cheese that they grilled. No bread, no sandwhich, just cheese heated on a grill. Luckly the bread is fantastic. Lily orders something more traditional, goulash on potato pancakes and loves it.
It’s late, almost 10pm. Holiday Inn here we come!