22nd Jun 2012 - 24th Jun 2012
Polska – The Land of the Mullet
Not since the Great Melbourne Mullet Revolution of 2003, have we seen so many mullets and fullets cruising the pavements! I think as a male when you go to the hairdresser in Poland, you have 2 choices; Mullet or shaved head. And the ladies? Well they just do it because they can! There has been a great variety of ‘party at the back & business up front’, but the prize for the best mullet/fullet that we’ve seen does actually go to a proud German. Patriotism was flowing from all angles of her whilst cheering on her beloved Deutschland in the Euro 2012’s, and her ‘business up front’ was styled into a fringe which of course was then dyed black, red, and yellow like the German flag! Class all round.
We took the almost direct route to Krakow, making sure we avoided the tollway. Not that that would’ve made much difference to the size of the wallet. Our last trip from Wroclaw to Oswiecim set us back only 4 Euro after being on there for about 150 kilometres! Anyway we found a nice little camping ground on the outskirts of Krakow and set up ourselves for the next 3 days. It’s been screaming hot over the past few days and a bit of sunburn was beginning to show, so we washed it down with a couple of cold beers. Oh, and some after-sun aloe vera nourishing moisturising lotion cream stuff. In true Australian style, we brought out the deck chairs and made sure we made the most of the remaining few hours of sunshine! There’s no way we’re returning to Australia still looking so British!
Our first day proper in Krakow turned out to actually be a rest day. It wasn’t planned, just like pretty much everything else on our journey so far, but the weather was miserable, and that was enough of an excuse to do some much needed washing of clothes and not much else. The weather did clear up in the afternoon, and we caught up with a friend of a friend of a friend who lives in Krakow, as well as another fellow friend of a friend of hers from Melbourne. She showed us around a few sights in central Krakow, and then we grabbed dinner at a not-so-authentic mixed grill restaurant in the main square.
On the second day, the weather was tip-top terrific, and we headed back into central Krakow again to see more of the sights and sounds of Krakow. It really is a beautiful city, and we were so glad that it wasn’t overrun with Euro 2012 football hooligans. The city was really the only city in Poland that was able to retain its cityscape and cultural identity when ze Nazi’s ran riot in 1939. Many of the old buildings were untouched, which we made sure we saw. Climbing up the main tower in the middle of town, we got a great panorama over the city. Not knowing which cathedral to go into, seeings there was almost one on every street corner, we went into the one which out front had a nice big statue of Pope John Paul (or JP as we got to know him). The poles are very proud of JP and just like you go gnome statue hunting in Wroclaw, you can go JP statue hunting in Krakow. But there’s plenty of better things to be doing... In the afternoon we strolled through what was the main Jewish Ghetto during WW2, but we obviously needed a tour guide for there, because we had to guess a bit what we were seeing. Then we went to what we thought was the Oscar Schindler factory. This is in fact now a ‘History of Krakow during WW2’ museum that uses the premises of the old factory. We were a bit disappointed, because we were looking forward to learning more about the factory, but the information there was limited (unlike what could be found in the gift store). The museum was great but not where you go at 3:00 and want to be out by 5. There’s much too much going on and we really did need about 4 hours to get through it properly.
This night we finally got around to properly celebrating our engagement. We went to a more traditional Polish restaurant and pointed to random things on the menu and hoped for the best. We sat outside in the main square, enjoying the warm summer night and listening to jazz coming from a band playing nearby. The food was served and we were pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of it. We’ve had mixed reviews about Polish food, but what we had we were happy with. A nice couple of cocktails put a pleasant finish to our night.
Our last morning in Krakow was spent at Wawel Castle, which sits proudly over the river. It’s mighty structure was also left untouched by the Nazi’s, however it was overrun with tourists crowding into the place to try and get the limited amount of tickets for entry available per day. We decided to let the masses have their go to look at the royal apartments, and we strolled through the castle grounds instead.
It is now time to say goodbye to Poland, home to the never-ending supply of mullets and the catch-you-by-surprise mix of road conditions and wannabe race-car drivers, and hello to the Tatras mountains of Slovakia. Keep posted.