St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow

Usually when I talk or write about St. Mary’s Basilica, I’m referring to the beautiful Spanish mission style Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. I was looking through some of my old photos recently, and I found a picture of another, much older St. Mary’s Basilica. This one is in Krakow, Poland. It’s also beautiful, built in a Brick Gothic style in the 14th century.

Usually when I talk or write about St. Mary’s Basilica, I’m referring to the beautiful Spanish mission style Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. I received confirmation there. My wife and I were married there, and we remain parishioners there. It’s quite special to both of us. Continue reading “St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow”

Clouds

I’m in Krakow for another day because my train to my next destination doesn’t leave until 10:30 pm. I looked into other ways of traveling or breaking the trip into smaller trips, but nothing seemed reasonable.

I don’t like night trains. They always smell like death and they stop at every station. If you do get to sleep, a conductor wakes you up for your ticket or a policeman wakes you up for your passport. I don’t even try.

I got to see a few more sights in Krakow, but now I’m passing time. I’m done to my last eight zloty, and I need four to get my luggage out of storage at the train station. I don’t feel like exchanging any more, and I’ve already mentioned my ATM woes. I’ll put a nice dinner on a credit card.

The good news is that it has suddenly become cloudy here, and with a light breeze, the weather is almost tolerable. If it rains, I’m likely to strip off my shirt and twirl it over my head like I just kicked the winning goal in a World Cup match.

Arbeit macht frei: Day trip to the Auschwitz concentration camps

As I entered the first Auschwitz camp, I walked through the visitors center where there’s a display of last words left by prisoners, often scratched in pencil on prison walls. I read about two of them and had to leave the room because I thought I was going to burst into tears. The displays about the camp’s officers were considerably less emotional.

I took a day trip to Auschwitz today, the site of several of the most important German Nazi concentration camps. Continue reading “Arbeit macht frei: Day trip to the Auschwitz concentration camps”

Polish beer

I’ve had some really good beer here in Poland. I don’t know why no one ever told me about Polish beer, or why it doesn’t find its way to the US. I’ve had Żywiec and Tyskie both in Warsaw and here in Krakow, and right now I’m drinking Okocim. All have been very good. I’ve been enjoying them in moderation, of course.

If you’re beginning to wonder if beer is becoming a theme of this trip, relax. Beer is a theme of every trip I take.

Improvising to deal with language issues in Poland

Until I arrived in Poland, I didn’t really have any language issues. In England, of course, they speak English. In Iceland, the Netherlands, and Denmark, nearly everyone speaks English in addition to his mother tongue, and most signs are also in English. In Germany, this is less the case, but I speak German well enough to get by. However, here in Poland, very few people, except young people, speak English well, and there are very few signs in English. Continue reading “Improvising to deal with language issues in Poland”

Warsaw, Poland: Local currency, done with camping

I decided to spend one more night here in Warsaw. It’s a beautiful city. Mostly I’ve just been walking around, particularly through the city’s lovely parks. I had a beer and an ice cream in the old city center. Not at the same time.

I don’t like walking around a city without local currency, but my minor debit card crisis was resolved quite easily last night. I just took some dollars from my backup and exchanged them at a bureau, old school. Now I remember why I bring backup cash when I travel. Continue reading “Warsaw, Poland: Local currency, done with camping”

First glance at Warsaw

I arrived in Warsaw about 90 minutes ago, and already I’m out sightseeing. I got a room in a private residence for the night. The owner approached me as I came off the train, walked me to her place, talked my ear off for a while, had a glass of wine with me, and suggested that maybe I was looking for a nice Polish girl at least twice. I escaped for a walk around the city before the sun goes down, since I may move on in the morning. On the other hand, the city seems interesting, so I could stay another night.

I tried getting some money from an ATM here, and after several attempts at several ATMs, I made a very expensive phone call to my credit union. It turns out that there are four countries where members’ cards won’t work, and Poland is one of them. Apparently there has been an unusually high incidence of ATM card fraud here. The rest of my itinerary will be okay. Fortunately I brought some dollars with me. I hope my credit cards work.

Border crossing, en route to Warsaw, Poland

Another border crossing, and two more stamps in my passport. I’m now in Poland, bound for Warsaw. I actually bought a ticket for Krakow, but since there is a connection in Warsaw, and since the second ticket is full-fare, I thought I might stick around Warsaw for a night or two and continue the journey later.

Another border crossing, and two more stamps in my passport. I’m now in Poland, bound for Warsaw. I actually bought a ticket for Krakow, but since there is a connection in Warsaw, and since the second ticket is full-fare, I thought I might stick around Warsaw for a night or two and continue the journey later.