Our European Odyssey

This blog covered our month-long trip to Eastern Europe -- specifically the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Andrea and Jake, the Churchgoers

Since we've started this vacation, we've turned into avid churchgoers. We've probably been to church more than any of you, dear readers. OK, not really to church but in church. Churches, actually. Since arriving at 6 yesterday morning in Krakow, Poland, we've been to at least seven Catholic churches.





Krakow appears to be the most Catholic town we've ever seen. In addition to the many Catholic churches packed into a very small radius, we've seen nuns, priests and monks (in full garb) everywhere, plus posters trumpeting the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

Last night was our first night in a hostel. So far, we've been very impressed. Mama's Hostel offers a free breakfast, free laundry, free Internet and a great central location. We can walk basically everywhere we want to go in the city.

Did we mention free breakfast? It's quite a spread, too. In both Hungary and Poland, we've been served sandwiches for breakfast -- not American-style bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches but ones with good bread, deli meat, cheese, veggies, cream cheese and more. They are wonderful.

We're sleeping in a 10-bed dorm. Not surprisingly, we were the first to go to bed last night and the first to get up this morning.

Yesterday, after checking in at the hostel, we started our day by visiting Wawel Castle, a 10th-century castle with 71 chambers and beautiful 16th-century tapestries. We viewed the state rooms, the armory and the royal treasury. Royalty sure did have its privileges.

We also visited Wawel Cathedral, the coronation site for centuries of Polish kings and queens and home to the tombs of several Polish royals and national heroes. Our poor legs didn't get a rest, as we climbed to the top of the cathedral to view Krakow from above.

We then meandered down the Royal Road, home to many of the city's notable sights, mostly churches. Also part of the Royal Road is Cloth Hall, a venue for local merchants to sell jewelry, clothes and knick-knacks. The jewelry is made primarily of amber from the nearby Baltic Sea.

We just found out yesterday that the pope will be in Krakow at the end of this week. We'd like to catch a glimpse of him while he's here, but it might not work out. Notice in the poster that Benedict is following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, who was Archbishop of Krakow and beloved by his countrymen.



For dinner last night, we went to a small restaurant that specializes in pierogi, a dumpling that can be stuffed with a wide variety of food -- fruits, cheeses, meats, etc. Andrea had the pierogi ruskie (stuffed with cottage cheese and potatoes), and Jake had a mixed platter of pierogis (stuffed with cheese, meat or sauerkraut). Oh yeah, did we mention that bacon grease was drizzled over the tops of them? They were a very good dinner. We also drank cherry juice with our dinner. It was neat because you could see the woman making the pierogis after you ordered. It was definitely made-to-order, authentic Polish cooking.



Today we plan to visit the Wieliczka salt mine. Click on the link for the fascinating history of the mine.

2 Comments:

At 6:30 AM, May 24, 2006, Anonymous Millie said...

I alway start my day by checking your blog. It is entertaining as well as educational. A day without a new entry is like a day without sunshine. Grandma Flynn wants to print everything out so she can sit down and read every bit of what you have written.

Love you,
Mom

 
At 8:33 AM, May 24, 2006, Blogger Nichole said...

Last night I dreamed I was sneaking around in a mansion, trying to take a picture of the pope. Too much "Alias" for me.

The pierogis look wonderful!

 

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