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  • Day98

    Kraków

    July 14, 2017 in Poland ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    So my first step is to apologise for the photos, which do not do this city justice at all!

    On the drive from Slovakia into Poland we stopped at a services to eat as we were too hungry to wait anymore. Lucky to be spotted lamenting our lack of understanding of the Polish menu by a handyman. He - in excellent English - suggested three traditional dishes that we should try. And what fantastic recommendations! I had Barscz, a clear red beet soup, traditional in different guises in this part of the world. Stuart had potato pancakes with Goulash and was a very happy boy!

    We arrived in Krakow on Thursday and did not hesitate to get some washing done .. rock n roll!

    Friday we headed into Krakow old town to take part in a walking tour. The old town is quite beautiful and not totally dissimilar to the Czech and Slovak old towns that we are getting used to now. The tour itself was taken by an enthusiastic historian who told us of Krakow's most famous former residents - Copernicus and JP2 (as he is affectionately known).

    We saw dragons breathing fire below Wawel Castle and heard the tale of the cobbler who defeated the virgin eating dragon with a sheep full of sulphur. We also learnt of Krakow's survival during WWII, compared to the destruction of Warsaw.

    In the main square we heard the "Hejnał Mariacki" played - and interrupted - from the tower of St Mary's Church. This excerpt from a tune, also called the 'Krakow Anthem' is said to be interrupted in remembrance of the original trumpeter who was shot with an arrow mid-way through sounding the alarm when the city was being besieged in 1241. Though we were also told that this is just legend as the church was not built in the year it was rumoured to have occurred. Nevertheless he plays every hour on the hour from each window in the highest tower of the Church. The lower tower being such in order not to block the view.

    We met another couple on the tour. She half polish and he Australian and they invited us to join them for dinner that night. More lovely company and polish food and then polish beer followed.

    The one food we had been avoiding trying was Pierogi. They are traditional dumplings with savoury or sweet fillings which are then boiled. The reason for the avoidance was that we were attending a Pierogi making class on the Saturday afternoon. I had found a website online called Eataway. It was started by Marta - the very lady who was going to be showing us how to make our Pierogi! Beginning in Krakow it is spreading over Poland and further afield. A great way to experience home cooked food in different cities with the opportunity to meet other guests at the same time.

    Marta and her husband Mark live in a unique house in the Polish countryside. Whilst we got a little lost en route the aimless driving was worth the wait! The house has Mark's artwork on the walls and a atmospheric garden where we ate and later played Croq-pole!

    On our arrival Marta was being interviewed about the project so we were lead inside to meet other attendees and other members of eat away who were there to help with the days cooking. We were shown how to finish off the dumplings and saw the other food being prepared. Stuart was very impressed with the homemade smoker, the inside of which was cooking fish and the outside of which was cooking the bread we helped to prepare. After pierogi and acquaintance making we sat down with about 14 others to a home cooked feast. Lunch was followed by Croq-pole.. having never played croquet before, with some helpful tips, we both seemed to get the hang of it!

    Marta was having 20 Belgian scouts for dinner that evening and so we stayed to help prepare more pierogi before leaving our "lunch" six and a half hours later!

    On Saturday evening I started to feel feverish which put paid to our intention to do another tour and revisit places to photograph on Sunday.

    We did manage to head out on Sunday evening for another Eataway experience that we had booked. This time a Bengali dinner at the home of Sumona and Hasan. Delicious home cooked Haleem, pickles and chicken with vegetable curry washed down with Mango Lassi did wonders to temporarily relieve my symptoms! Winning a game of Family Fortunes may also have helped :)

    Definitely a good introduction to Polish cities and food and people - now looking forward to seeing more!
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