Thursday, August 16, 2012

Polish Holiday

Yesterday was a holiday here in Krakow.  We think it celebrates two quite different occasions.  The first is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary; the second is a Polish army day celebrating the Battle of Warsaw in 1920.  This was also my last day off with Andy, so we wanted to have some fun.

We started out with a run around Błonia that went pretty well.  We got to go all the way around the park this time instead of just down one leg of it.  I knew I would get to see Wawel and the river again, so the park made more sense for my last run.

After we returned to the apartment and got cleaned up, we headed out and made a few errands, including taking a short stop into the Church of Peter and Paul.  The organ was playing when we came in, so we sat down and listened for a few minutes.  After our errands, we headed to the peirogi festival that was starting on Mały Rynek, the small market square on the other side of St. Mary's Basilica.  It was packed with people!  There were so many stands and kinds of pierogi to choose from.  We decided to try duck and salmon pierogi in addition to the more traditional meat and spinach varieties.  We also tried "dessert" pierogi.  These are strawberry- and blueberry-filled:

Andy edit: Laurel about melted when she tried the spinach pierogi.  I tried to get a picture of it, but she had consumed it all before I even got the camera out.

They were so good, we went back for more, including a banana-filled pierog.  (I was also pretty hungry from running.)

After our delicious lunch, we decided to head to a different mall than the one we normally pass through, one I hadn't been to.  This mall is farther away, so we took the tram down to the river.  When we walked to the mall door we realized the mall was closed for the holiday.

At this point, I was already tired from walking.  I felt like the run wore me out more than I expected, I was getting frustrated, and I just wanted to sit down.  Have you ever had one of those moments when you have the will to do something but not the energy?  That is where I was at this point.  I wondered if we could find one of the riverboat cruises since the mall wasn't working out, but that would involve a lot more walking along the river.  We decided the best thing was to go back to the apartment and rest for a while.

We went back to the tram stop (more walking).  Here we made an error: the tram we got on was not the tram line on which we came.  We saw a lot more of Krakow than we were intending.  Eventually, we got off mystery tram line #79 and found another one going more in the direction we needed.  This returned us to the familiar land of the Planty, from which we went back to the apartment, and I begrudgingly took a nap.  (Andy comment: sometimes it's like she's two.  She needed a nap, but didn't want to take one.)

When I was done resting, we headed out again.  One of our language club friends had invited us to her apartment later, and so we ate some tasty snacks and headed to Subway to get cookies to bring.  Earlier in the day, we stopped by and ordered a dozen chocolate chip cookies.  We told the workers we would be back at 4 o'clock to pick them up.  The workers must not have understood our English because when we arrived back at the Subway, they didn't have the cookies; they said they had sold them all earlier in the day.  Fortunately, they could make another dozen in about 20 minutes, so that's what we asked them to do.

WHY, you may ask, were we bringing chocolate chip cookies and so intent on it?  Chocolate chips aren't really around in Krakow.  Andy heard that they're at some of the suburban supermarkets, but they're not at any of the ones we go to in the downtown area.  Subway was the only restaurant we know where there are chocolate chip cookies. 

We then went over to our friend's (Roxana's) apartment (about a mile more walking, but snacks gave me more energy).  She and her fiance were welcoming, as any Polish host would be, and we had to explain why we had brought cookies.  See, the Poles aren't very used to chocolate chip cookies, and they're really, really not used to them being served warm.  We asked Roxana to use her oven, and heated the Subway cookies up for them to try.  I believe that action alone may have left a lasting mark on Polish culture.  I don't think her fiance will ever have cold cookies again.

We had a fun evening playing a board game called Puerto Rico in their backyard. 

We were sad to leave, but we wanted to return to the city center in time to take a ride in one of Rynek Główny's carriages.  I had been looking forward to this for a long time! 

Here's a video as we went by Wawel castle.  I love how beautiful it is at night!

We ended the day with more pierogi...all that running and walking made me very hungry.


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