Europe 2018 Day 17

Today we went home!

We locked up the Airbnb and took a bus to the airport. We decided to check bags since it was going to be a long day and we didn’t feel like dealing with extra stuff/weight.

Our first flight was around 2.5 hours. They served no free food or drinks, not even coffee or tea. Or water. I bought a sandwich and beer (a Mark’s and Spencer sandwich! So british!).

Then we had an hour in Heathrow before our next flight, which was lucky because we had to walk, bus, and train so far to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate. Eventually we boarded our plane so we could sit for the next 9 and a half hours.

I watched The Birdcage and drank wine because my gameboy was out of batteries and there was no 3-prong plug on board. I miss Robin Williams.

For dinner I ordered a full English breakfast ahead (27$) because on the way here the meal they provided was inedible. Of course on this flight the free options were tika masala or penne pasta in tomato sauce and they looked great. Oh well, my food was fine. I forgot to take a picture until after I ate it.

Then I watched Wreck It Ralph, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Frozen.

Finally, we arrived in Seattle! Customs and Baggage pick-up didn’t take too long, and Mom and Dad picked us up at the airport. I was so happy to be home.

Steps Walked: 6,395

Plane wines drunk: 3

Plane movies watched: 4

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Europe 2018 Day 16

Today was our only full day in Warsaw.

First was breakfast in New Town. It’s called new town, but it’s still old. They constructed it after they built the old town. It is outside the city walls. It’s less touristy, we liked it very much. We both had the continental breakfast and coffee.

Then we saw the palace, which has some rooms on display as they would have looked when Kings lived there (most of the furnishings were original having been hidden away in the countryside during WWII), and then some art on lower floors. It was ok, but when you’ve seen Hampton court and all, everything else is kind of meh.

We took a drinks break in the Hotel Bristol, which was the Nazi headquarters during WWII. It was very expensive, but they gave us some savory snacks for “free”!

Then we continued on to the National Museum for more art!

After the museum we decided to get dinner, which turned into a bit of a journey. We looked through my Rick Steves book for restaurant recommendations, and found one near the Chopin museum that sounded good, it supposedly had light lunches and wine downstairs and fancier food upstairs. We walked there, the front counter woman said they did not have food, and that the upstairs restaurant was closed. So we chose another one and walked there. It was much farther away than we thought, and didn’t really have much, just some already prepared sandwich things, it seemed to mostly be a bar or coffee shop. SO we found a third place in the book and started walking towards where it was supposed to be, only to not find it at all (I looked online later, turns out it is no longer in business).

At this point we had walked a long time and were very hungry and snapish (we hadn’t eaten since 9am), so we walked back to the main street and chose a place that had looked ok on our walk the day before.

It was a very cute chill sort of bar. We had potato pancakes and I had a beer with caramel syrup in it. So apparently that is a thing here, I’ve seen it in a few bars. It’s like the syrups they put in coffees, only the add it to beer. It was weird! I would not order it again! But I didn’t hate it.

Then we went to the apartment to pack since tomorrow we go home!

Steps: 21,464

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Europe 2018 Day 15

We left our Airbnb and walked to the train station. It seemed longer than the walk to the Airbnb from the train station, and our bags felt heavier. I think we are pretty much ready to go home! But before that, one more stop, in Warsaw!

The main Karakow train station is large, and underneath a shopping mall, so you have to walk through a mall to get there. It was very maze like but we eventually arrived and found our platform. We were determined not to get on the wrong train this time!

…and we didn’t! Everything went right and we had no problems forever the end!

But seriously our 2.5 hour train trip went off without a hitch and we arrived in Warsaw. Our Airbnb was pretty far from the train station (it would have been a 40 minute walk in 80 degree weather) so we took a bus as far as we could into the old town. From there we walked about 10 minutes to the old town square, where our apartment was.

It was on the top floor. I didn’t count the floors, but if I had to guess I’d say there were…5 or 6 floors. Sidney says 7 but I think that’s too many. Anyway, it was a lot of stairs.

We got in no problem using a lock box to retrieve the key. The apartment was adorable! Pretty much the same layout as the last one with a loft and a second bedroom downstairs, shared living room, kitchen, and bathroom. This Airbnb has a view, though!

From the loft you could see the square below and the river on the other side. Very nice.

After we dropped off stuff and refreshed ourselves from our journey, we did the Warsaw Royal Way walk from our Rick Steves book. We did it backwards because our apartment was by the palace at the end of the walk.

We walked by the palace, many churches, the university, some cool benches that played Chopin music, and a Copernicus museum all along the road that Kings used to go down when they were arriving in town.

The palace:

The walk went down a main shopping street next, all the way to a trendy shopping/restaurant area where we had dinner.

I had a pear gin fizz and fried chicken. Then we walked back all the way through the walk again to our apartment to sleep.

Steps: 14,419

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Europe 2018 Day 14

Woke up and headed to Schindler’s Factory museum first thing. There was a bit of a line even at 9 am when it opened.

The museum is set up in the building that used to be the factory. It takes visitors through the history of Krakow during WWII, as well as covering some more specific Schindler stuff.

It was very neat! I finished around 11 and sat in the Museum cafe waiting for Sidney to be done for a while (just over 1 hour. I was pretty bored and also concerned because Sidney and I didn’t have any way to contact each other). I was getting pretty worried when suddenly there she was! She had been waiting outside!

Reunited, we went to a beer garden near the old tram station for lunch. I had a beer sampler and a burger. The burger wasn’t done enough for my taste, but it was ok. The beer was good. A stand out was the dark wheat beer with honey, and also the apple and pear beers.

Then we walked back to old town to do the 19th century art museum on the second floor of the Cloth Hall.

It was small but there were some interesting pieces there.

We stopped for a drink at the museum cafe, which overlooked the town square. I had ginger lemonade.

Then we went out and bought some sweets because we were tired and needed some sugar! We got cheesecake and ate it at home while we packed because tomorrow we go to Warsaw!

Steps walked: 14,144

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Europe 2018 Day 13

Our Airbnb is on a tram line, so some noisy trains woke me up at 6am, but I managed to doze till about 7:30.

Today was our Rick Steves walk day! After breakfast (yogurt from the grocery store), we walked through the Planty (a park surrounding the old town) to the start of the walk.

The walk began at the Barbican, an old fort. Across from it was the Florian Gate, which was the entrance to the old town. BTW, the Planty used to be a moat that ran all around the old town, but they filled it in ages ago and planted trees.

Then we walked down Florianska street to the town square.

It is a very large town square! The picture is just part of it, it extends past the Cloth Hall on the right. We walked around a bit and tried to see inside St. Mary’s but it is under construction and closed for tourists. We peaked in through the doors for people who want to pray, it is beautiful inside. It’s too bad we couldn’t get a better look.

We did climb the tower though!

It was 240 steps.

We also looked through Cloth Hall. It’s an indoor market with stalls where people can sell things. We looked through but didn’t buy anything.

Next we sat at a cafe on the square and had a drink. We thought about ordering cake, but the service was so slow that we got too hungry and had to leave to get a proper lunch.

We ended up at a place called Camelot and had dumplings, half filled with cheese and half filled with meat and cabbage. I also had a beer mixed with raspberry juice. It was interesting but a little too sweet.

Then we resumed our walk, which took us by the college St. John Paul II went to, then passed the house he lived in when he was archbishop of Krakow.

We looked into St. Francis Basilica, a gorgeous Art Nouveau church.

We left St. Francis and headed to Wawel castle. It’s a very eclectic collection of buildings on a hill at the bottom of the old town. We climbed the hill using a very gradual incline and reached the Wawel cathedral.

It doesn’t even look like a church. It was built over centuries by people just adding random buildings. I liked it. The interior was also eclectic.

After the cathedral we wandered down to the river to see the Wawel dragon.

It shoots fire every 4 minutes or so. Not very much fire.

At this point it was about 2 pm, so we figured we had time to do another Rick Steves walk! This time, the Kazimierz walk.

Kazimierz is the Jewish part of Krakow. It’s the hip part of town now, with lots of food trucks.

The walk started in the old town square of Kazimierz and went by some synagogues and Jewish cemeteries (which were all closed because it was Yom Kippur), then a market and some museums. The walk ended near the Schindler’s Factory Museum. We went in since we still had some day left, but they were sold out of tickets for the day even though they were still open for 4 more hours. I’m not sure how that works, but we will come back tomorrow morning so it’s fine.

Since we suddenly had some time, we walked back to some food trucks we’d seen on the walk for dinner.

We had pork sandwiches with beetroot/chocolate puree and then I had some ice cream for dessert. It’s from a place called chimney cakes, the dough is grilled then filled with ice cream.

It was a very long day but we saw a lot of what we wanted to see in Krakow. Tomorrow is our last day in Krakow. We will check out a few museums and mostly take it easy.

Walked: 23,120 steps

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Europe 2018 Day 12

Today was our Auschwitz and Salt Mine tour.

The night before, after our ridiculous day, I realized I may have given our tour guide the incorrect address since the Airbnb app sent us to the wrong spot and I had just copied that for the tour. So, I emailed and made sure they had the right place. They responded very quickly and confirmed. So professional!

They picked us up outside our Airbnb at 8:30. A nice young man was our driver. We picked up two more people, a couple from Ireland originally but who live in Australia.

We drove to Auschwitz, it is outside the city and took a little more than an hour. We arrived half an hour before our tour. It was very crowded! It seemed like a lot of school tours were here.

The tour took around 3.5 hours and was very informative. Lots of it was displays of the possessions prisoners left behind when they were killed. Before we went I thought I might cry on the tour but I didn’t. We saw both Auschwitz and Auschwitz II Birkenau then we had lunch in the car (bagged lunches) while we drove to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

The salt mine was a thing. We went down about 800 stairs over a couple hours. The chambers were pretty, generally. Some of them had mannequins demonstrating how the miners worked, those made me feel a little like I was on the Disneyland Railroad in Disneyland going through the grand canyon and prehistoric times. But less cool because I wasn’t at Disneyland.

It was dark so I didn’t take many photos. The coolest room was a cathedral with three big chandeliers and carvings. I think you can all probably give the salt mines a miss if you are ever in Krakow.

Eventually we escaped the mine and got back to the car, a little early. It was 30 minutes back to Krakow where we bought some groceries (breakfast for the next few days), then dropped bags back at the Airbnb, and grabbed dinner (schnitzel at a very busy, very loud restaurant).

Steps walked: 19,255

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Europe 2018 Day 11

Today we travel to Krakow after a nice few days in Gdansk. Our train left at 11 so we had a little time in the morning to hang out.

We had breakfast at the hotel buffet. They had everything! It was quite a spread. I have an issue with buffets, I always eat too much, and today was no exception. I guess it’s ok today though because our train doesn’t get to Krakow till 4pm so we wont really be having lunch. I had 2 plates of food:

The buffet even had chicken aspic! I did not eat it.

We checked out and I asked the hotel desk if they had a mailbox because I had some postcards ready to mail. They looked a little confused then said they’d mail them for me. I hope they remember to send them!

Then we were off to the train station. It was a bit of a walk, but we arrived with plenty of time.

We found our platform and when the train came we got on it. But the train looked a little weird! Turns out it was the wrong train! We got on the 55302, not the 5302. KIND OF NOT A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE TRAINS WITH SUCH SIMILAR NUMBERS DEPARTING FROM THE SAME PLATFORM. So, we got off quickly, at the next stop, with a bunch of other people that made the same mistake we did (which made me feel better about it. Everyone was confused!). We waited 25 minutes for the next train back to the central station so we could sort out what to do next.

When we finally got back the very nice ticket agent helped us buy new tickets on the train that left at 12:51, 2 hours later than our original train. She also gave us a form to fill out to get a refund on the tickets we were unable to use. She was very helpful! We had about an hour to wait so we went back to our platform.

Our train ride, once we finally got the correct train, was 5 hours long. I had coffee and a beer. When I ordered the beer (a lager) the cafe car people seemed to laugh at me. It’s been a dark day.

Finally, we arrived in Krakow! One 30 minute walk later, we were at our Airbnb. Or, what we thought was our Airbnb. We had the address wrong. What came up when I was on the Airbnb website and clicked directions was wrong. It listed it as 21 such and such street, when it was actually 6 such and such street. The 21 was the apartment number.

We figured it out after a while.

THEN once we got to the right place, we couldn’t get in.

Finally, a nice young man (sent by the Airbnb host), found us loitering in the vestibule and identified himself. He led us up to the 3rd floor (the listing said 2nd floor) and let us in. It is a cute place.

We have separate rooms (sort of, one is a loft) so that’s nice.

We did some laundry with mixed results (the washer has locked Sidney’s jacket away and we can’t get the door open), had yogurt for dinner, then gratefully went to sleep.

Walked: 7,303

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