Originally published 9 May 2012.
The first day in Krakow was exhausting, but exhilarating! I literally walked from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, with no sitting down till supper time First up, breakfast! My hostel was pretty much awful (I won’t go into all that, but I’m now in a hotel and MUCH happier with this situation!), and the “included breakfast” was instant coffee, regular sliced bread, and jelly that was no telling how old. So I went in search of a real Polish breakfast, and I found it!
One of the first places I stumbled upon happened to be a hotel restaurant, and the menu with pictures they had displayed outside looked appetizing, so I decided to give it a go. The Polish breakfast included two sausages, a boiled egg with mayo-chive sauce, bread, vegetables, and coffee. Mission number 1: Breakfast: Completed!
Mission number 2: Find the Lost Wawel! Wawel Hill has quite the interesting past, including being home to the royal family of Poland for over 500 years. The original stone castle was built in the 10th century, and one of the exhibits (called “The Lost Wawel”) is dedicated to archaeological discoveries from the earliest parts of the structure. It was incredibly impressive because they’ve actually left things generally where they were, rubble and all, and you can walk on a raised path through the ruins inside! There were fragments of bones (behind glass so they’re protected), pottery, shoes, tools, etc., etc., etc., all there for people to see. I wish there’d been more explanations about how and why things were used, but it was sufficient enough to read what it was and around the year it was made. These ruins were quite different from the ones in Turkey, which were out in the open and free for the exploring. Both ways of displaying historical ruins have their advantages, though!
There is also an exhibit all about armor and weaponry. Interestingly enough, I had my own little weaponry incident going into the exhibit! My friend Alan let me borrow one of his pocket knives, just in case… you know. So, I had it in my purse. I walked right through the door, put my bag in the conveyor belt to be scanned, and walked right through the metal detector. As soon as the guy scanning my bag got that puzzled look on his face, I knew I was in for it! He looked at me in disbelief and calmly asked, “Knife?” I said yes, I’d forgotten it was in my purse and I was very sorry. He said I couldn’t take it in, so I asked if I could leave it there and come back for it. He said sure! So off I went to enjoy the exhibit!
Now, in America, I would have been taken away and questioned. At the most lenient of places, they would have taken the knife and not given it back–which is really what I was most afraid of because it’s not mine, it’s borrowed! But thankfully that was not the case here! When I went back later to get it, there was a different guy at the metal detector, but the girls greeting people as they came in were still there and remembered me. I went and asked if I could get my knife back, and they told the guy where it was and for him to get it for me. Again, there was this look of disbelief when he looked at me and gave me the knife. He LAUGHED! And then the other girls did, too! =) So a good laugh was had by all; deportation and international scandal were avoided. =)
Back to the royal weaponry! So I kind of couldn’t quite grasp what I was seeing. There were suits of armor, crossbows, lances, maces, tournament weapons, etc., all from medieval days. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve really only seen in movies! There were swords, guns, pistol-swords, cannons (which I have actually seen before, of course!), and other royal items like tournament outfits and the like. One of the hats actually kind of looked like a Mad Hatter hat–oversized and made of what looked like velvet or something like that. Pretty cool looking, but also kind of funny looking! Sorry, unfortunately pictures were not allowed in the castle exhibits.
And much to my delight, I got in and out of the castle quick enough to grab a pretzel on the go and make it to the free walking tour at 11:00.
And then the fun REALLY started!