Thursday, July 11, 2013

Watch Out For Snails!

After a failed attempt yesterday, I visited the Botanical Gardens of Kraków today.  It was beautiful and peaceful (albeit a little buggy in places), and it made for a great photography session, as you will see.  But I don't want to get ahead of myself.  Let me start with what happened yesterday, when I thought I was going to the Botanical Gardens. 

I had looked up the location on Google maps before I left, and it looked within walking distance.  All I had to do was go straight down the street our apartment building is on out of the old town for about 1 kilometer.  So yesterday afternoon I did just that.  I passed by the Jesuit Basilica on the way, which I took a quick detour to see, but in general I just kept walking down the street.  And walking.  And walking.  Until I got to the very end of the street, where I finally saw something behind a fence that looked like the gardens.  There was a lane that led back into the fenced area, so I thought, "That must be the entrance!"  Nope.  The gate was closed, once I got up the lane far enough to see.

Seeing that a walking path continued around the edge of the gardens, I decided to follow it.  The entrance must be somewhere around the bend.  So I walked some more.  And walked.  And walked.  Plenty of fenced garden, but no entrance.  Finally, I saw another lane cut into the fenced area up ahead.  "This has to be it!" I thought.  I went up that lane, which really was more of an alley, but alas!  It did not reveal any gates or doors or signs. 

I was pretty annoyed at this point.  I thought, "I will follow this street until it meets a cross-street so I can get back to the street I started on."  Unfortunately this step in my plan didn't work either, as I never really came to a cross-street.  The street I was on dumped me out into a major intersection with bus and tram routes criss-crossing in all directions.  I only panicked for a moment, because I recognized the roundabout intersection from having ridden the bus up to Kościuszko Mound last week. 

My next task was to figure out which tram I needed to go in a direction that would take me back to the old town area, or more accurately, the Galeria Krakowska.  I walked nearly all around the roundabout, but I found the right tram and was soon back at the mall.  I was disappointed, but at least I knew how to get myself un-lost.  I might be starting to really know this town.

Today, I decided to try again, and I did my research a little more carefully this time: I took note of an exact street address.  Because I was looking at the address numbers as I went, I found what I thought was the right building.  But I still wasn't sure at first! (<p>short rant) Sometimes Kraków's signage is poor, but in this case it was abominable.  Several things work against someone searching for this place:

  1. There was nothing that said "garden," or "ogród," as it would be in Polish anywhere near the building.  
  2. There was noisy construction going on right next to the gate in front of the building.  
  3. The actual garden entrance was off to one side, partially behind another building.  
I had to ask if I was in the right place--in Polish, of course.  It's no wonder I missed it the first time!  Finally finding my way in felt like a major victory! (</p> short rant)

Now, you're probably wondering why there are snails in this post's title.  I will get to that momentarily.  First, some beautiful photos of plants:

 Puffer is here for scale.  These are the largest lily pads I've ever seen.  Alaina could probably sit on one and not worry about sinking.

 This is "fossil oak."  Apparently, it undergoes a chemical reaction when buried by sand and clay, turning it black and preserving it.  This stump was estimated to be nearly 800 years old (not sure if that counts the age of the living tree or not)!

 The infamous pitcher plant...

And now, the snails.  Unfortunately, this story begins sadly.  I was walking along a path deep in the back of the garden, when I heard something crunch beneath my foot.  I looked down and saw it was a large shell, and then I realized--!  It was a snail shell.  I had crushed the poor thing!  I felt absolutely awful, as this was no small snail; its shell was a couple inches wide.  I really looked around after that to make sure I wouldn't step on another one.  Sure enough, this guy had friends.

 It was fascinating to watch this guy eat the dandelion leaf.

I continued to be vigilant for snails, but I couldn't help but accidentally tread on another one, because there were so many on the path at one point.  :-(  I really am not a vicious snail-killer.  I made my way quickly to where there were no more snails after that.

Regardless, it was a successful trip and a pretty place to see.  Tomorrow, I am planning on visiting one of the city's museums.


Laurel Blough said...

Hmm. I ranted for quite a long while at the beginning of this post. I apologize if that annoyed anyone reading it; it was just a pain. :-P

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