Sunday, 6 October 2013

So my feet hate me now...

I had to checkout at 10am - but I have no idea what time it is, what day it is or where on earth in the world I am at the moment. The American girls had left for Auschwitz at silly o'clock, and I don't do silly o'clock out of choice. It's a shame, because I would have liked to go to Auschwitz - but I'm not sure if I could have handled its emotional toll though on such an intense trip. At about half 1 I thought about going there anyway, but it would have involved getting there, wandering round for about half an hour and then coming back so I didn't miss my train to Prague. Even by my standards that was pushing it.
Yeah, let's just take stupid photos like this instead.
So I wandered round Krakow instead, after buying more batteries for my camera, because I take too many photos. We will have to see if Polish duracells are any good - Indian duracells definitely had less juice in them than the British ones! And the sun is just an awkward thing - it makes me have to come back later in the day to take photos of the bits that were in shadow in the morning. But going back to the Old Square, however nice it was, involved bearing the pungent stench of urine again.
Isn't the sight of hundreds of tourists just lovely?
Krakow is really quite nice - old buildings, old squares, a castle, and plenty of other old stuff that I like to look at, take photos of (of course) and avoid entrance fees by not going inside and doing all the boring stuff. I mean seriously - guided tours - really? Maybe this is the effect of my dad dragging me round French castles and cathedrals for hours on end (there's only a certain amount of time you can look at a picture on a wall for, but he really liked to study every minute detail - it's like how English teachers pull more out of a book than there are words in the book itself) but I don't get the point.
Anselm's Tourism: look at castle. It looks nice. Take a quick look inside. Don't pay. Move on to something else.
And if you want to understand the history, try that thing called THE INTERNET. You don't need someone to talk in far too much depth in dodgy English for hours to understand it. And if you have a million questions to ask, (1) in the grand scheme of things, they don't really matter. Actually, scrap that, they just don't matter; (2) you're probably one of the people who makes guided tours so long and makes me hate them so much.

While I'm ranting, I also don't like tour groups. Independent travel is so much better. You do what you want and you know that it's your trip. Fair enough if you don't have the time or patience to plan things out, but I don't like being a sheep, following some bloke with a sign around all day. And they swarm you and take up lots of space all at once. The Germans would have something to say about the inefficiency of that!

And when you travel with a tour group, you miss wandering down back streets and finding the Irish pub. Rule 1 of travelling: there's always an Irish pub. I found 3 in Amsterdam.
Told you!
Anyway, Krakow. It's an incredible place. Especially from the air - I took a hot air balloon ride (tick that off the list) for the equivalent of £9 - it's just over the river from the Wawel Castle and I highly recommend it (website: http://www.hiflyer.pl/en). Just don't look at the Soviet-era concrete blocks on the one side. They spoil the view a bit.

And then I got a German to take a photo of me (why do I never think to ask peoples' names?!). Having taken far too many selfies in the morning, my man card was in danger of slipping out of my hands if I took another one.
This hoody makes people think I'm actually from Arizona. Oops.
And when you wander round a bit, you might find things like street markets. That obviously I have to be the awkward foreigner taking photos in.
Have a look at the facial expression on the woman bottom right. Genuinely hilarious.
In the afternoon I went to the old Jewish quarter and then on to Schindler's factory which was heart-wrenching yet heart-warming at the same time. What a guy, massive respect for him for what he did. Really, really powerful - I highly recommend going. And I even paid for the tram there.
The view from 180m up
Then I realised I hadn't eaten in the last couple of hours, so it was time to eat 10 dumplings for 8 zloty. Apparently the kebab from earlier that nearly defeated me didn't fill me up. There's probably a scientific explanation for that, but I'm just going to point out the phrase "the kebab" and be done with that one. But they'd run out of meat, so I had to have apple dumplings instead. And I never eat vegetarian meals. But they were incredibly good. And it let me rest my feet in somewhere other than a train station, where randoms kept speaking to me in Polish - apparently I need to make an effort to look MORE like a tourist?
This photo proves that given the opportunity, I will take photos of anything.
And I abused their free wifi. And annoyed several cashiers by asking if I could pay on card in zloty and not in pounds at a ridiculously bad exchange rate. I have a prepaid travel cashcard which gives me a far better exchange rate, but oh no I'm British so I'm essentially a human cash machine and I won't notice.
Goodbye Krakow, and thanks for having me
All this walking is taking its toll on my feet. I have 2 insoles in each shoe, but no luck. I'm taking trams everywhere in Prague. They better be cheap.

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