/ Europe2017

Can't be arsed

OK, this is the first city we've not really enjoyed! Why? Well, nothing is easy here, there seems to be no tourist infrastructure just individual companies offering their services. Google, for example, "Auschwitz tours" and you get just TripAdvisor and individual tour organisers pushing their tours. There appears to be no centralised tourist board that helps make your choices. It's pretty much the same with anything. Search for 'Tourist Information' and Google maps shows dozens of sites. Finding one on the ground and it's just a kiosk pushing some company's tours. Even when we found what looked like a central Tourist Information it was pretty useless, the woman want too helpful and there was very little literature to orient us in the city. 

It's not just Tourist Information. The buses have ticket machines inside but they don't take notes, only coins which are almost impossible for tourists to obtain. They do appear to operate contact-less with credit cards but the two separate machines we tried didn't work. So we traveled back without paying because we had no option to pay. According to that not overly helpful Tourist Information lady there are ticket machines at bus stops. There is one at the bustop by the campsite but not at ones in the city (not ones we saw anyway). These larger machines do take notes and credit cards (but the contact-less option didn't work in the one we tried either)

The campsite itself didn't help. It's instructions are to catch the 164 bus outside the campsite (it's 150m and 2 roads away) directly to the Old City. Trouble is the 164 doesn't go to the Old City, it skirts right around it. So much so that we only realised this when it was getting ever further from the desired destination. So instead of alighting and having a 1/4 mile walk into the centre we found ourselves a mile out. 
Still serendipity often comes into play. Walking in on this 'scenic' route we stumbled across Krakow's Honey Festival. A weird event with a stage for music surrounded by about 30 or so honey vendors.

One nice thing in Poland is that English is much more prominent, especially amongst younger people. A young lady off one stall gave us a leaflet with English descriptions of her products, which included 6 different honey varieties, jars of pollen, and royal jelly. We then fought the wasps over tasting each of her honeys and bought jars of buckwheat (very dark colour, slightly bitter, full body flavour) and linden honey (delicate in both colour and flavour) as well as a small jar of pollen, because it was unusual.

A small market, Liz nearly buys a fur trimmed hand knitted hat. We are both surprised to see the odd Nazi souvenir amongst all the Russian bits. Nazi Jewish stamps seem to be the most common.

Eventually we reach the main square of the Old City. It's full of tourists and horse and cart rides.

Still our timing was good. As we reached At Mary's church it was 2pm and the clock struck. Then a bugler played from high in the tower. When he stopped he started again from a different compass point and repeated until he'd played his tune in all 4 directions (difficult to tell for someone with no sense of audio direction like my one-eared self!). Curiously the tune ended prematurely each time, apparently to commemorate the original bugler warning the city of a Tartar invasion who became victim of a Tartar's arrow mid warble.

The town square is nice enough and bnot as crowded as Prague but still a lot of tourists. The buildings are no where near as nice as Prague though. It's unfair for compare just on one city but Poland does seem a little tattier than its neighbour, which surprised me.

Beer time and we find a beer bar but it's main thrust is craft beers worldwide rather than the best of Poland. Still we'd walked a long way after the missed bus stop and needed a rest. We were pretty unenthusiastic and so elected for an easy tourist place to eat, a local beer hall that at least brewed its own beer. The beer was actually pretty good and we both elected for the same food - Beer Drinker's Potato Cake with goulash, pork and vegetables. It wasn't bad although we were surprised to find the potato cake more like a pancake. We'd expected something more fishcake like, as we had had in Drusus camp.

Then the dice with ticket inspectors as we couldn't manage to actually buy a ticket back. A quick supermarket shop and back to the camp. Where we booked an Auschwitz tour for a 7:30 start on Monday! Reading the reviews this isn't the highest rated tour but it was easiest to book.

You know, Krakow had got us so we can't be arsed!