Rick Steve's said Krakow was the next Prague. Although Rick isn't my favorite travel writer in the world, I do have to agree. We rolled into the city on a night train around 6:30, and even in the dim mist, freezing our butts off, BH and I could see how that this city was going to be beautiful and charming. Just look at this main square. Deserted and gorgeous.
Although Rick isn't my favorite travel writer in the world, he does write good walking tours. We started off in the northern part of the city at the old city gates and walked through the entire old town. Old Town Square is gorgeous, with tons of people and shops and beautiful buildings. Saint Maria Basilica is one of the most prominent churches on the square. After debating whether or not to go inside, BH and I marveled at the gorgeous interior, with a beautiful carved altar. It was finished it 1489, and when open you can see the Dormition (death) of Mary.
After paying respect to JP II, we continued on our walk to Wawel Castle. Perched on a top of a hill in the southern part of the old town, the castle grounds are impressive and a major attraction of Krakow. The church was this hodgepodge of architectural styles from various renovations, which added to the compelling beauty of the area. Rick Steve's pointed out that Chakra adherents especially loved one corner of the castle. Apparently, it is one of the seven biggest Chakra energy points in the world. We even saw some random lady soaking up the energy. Needless to say, we felt pretty happy ourselves after leaving the castle.
The other Fulbrighters were in town for an ETA conference, so we tried to meet up with them. After waiting an hour or two, we met up with a bunch of the Bulgarian ETAs and went for a long walk around the city and saw Krak the dragon.
Ages ago, before Krakow was even a true city, there was a dragon terrorizing the town. Everyday, they had to feed the dragon their livestock. However, the citizens were starving themselves. Luckily, a man came up with a solution; he sliced open a sheep and filled the carcass with sulfur. The dragon greedily ate up the sulfur, and then became very thirsty. He ran to the nearest river and drank until he burst. Krakow was saved.
Dinner was followed by a walk over to the Jewish district for a little bit of partying. Even though it was Monday night, we were only in Krakow for a couple of days and wanted to experience as much of the city as we could. Plus, this was my first opportunity to actually meet the Fulbright scholars that weren't living in Sofia. The Jewish district, or Kazimierz, was once a ghetto, but has been transformed to the student and nightlife district. After running into Rachel, we ended up at a comfy, chill bar. One of the other Fulbrighters happened to know sign language, which was awesome. After a couple of drinks, it was back to bed. We needed a lot of sleep to prepare ourselves for the next day: Auschwitz.