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040: Krakow. 2012/6/10

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[Lovely Kraków photo album at the end of the entry.]

How much should a not exactly agreeable host decide my mood? Quite a bit, although the right answer should be “not that much.”

Well, I did try my best.

My mood was not great when I started my day.  My mind was partially (yes, only partially) occupied by the unpleasant incidents of last night.  First there was the dog – who want to approach people and examine things but can’t stand people approaching him; what is he, a virgin queen? Secondly, while it was ok that the host’s “roommate” hit on me, “Roomie” was not tactful nor tasteful in how to execute it: Roomie went clubbing with me, and while R made several clumsy attempts to come on to me, R also didn’t forget to ask me to take care of the drinks and the cab.  Sorry, I may sound too traditional, but I don’t feel like giving away myself without having been treated a proper drink or candle-lit meal.  Besides, the approach was really awkward and clumsy: someone didn’t know how to take “no” for an answer until the third or fifth time.

And in the early morning the dog hopped on to my bed.  As I tried to push him away from the bed, he barked very angrily – luckily my host Tomek showed some reasonable senses by dragging him out, spanked him and scolded him severely.  What an animal.

This morning everything seems “normal,” but I couldn’t help but hold the grudge.

Is it me? Is it me being too unforgiving? I ask myself this question from time to time.

The weather wasn’t too bad: although somewhat cloudy, the sun shows quite some distinction.  Something peculiar is that all various museums and sightseeing places have different days off and different days for free entrance.  I found out that 19th-century Polish Painting Gallery right at Rynek (central square) is free today, and Rynek will be on Tuesday.  The gallery has some nice things, although it’s very small.

After a fine and very inexpensive lunch at an eatery recommended by a very nice information center clerk, I tried to find my way to Wawel Castle.  As I stood along the street checking maps, a middle-aged Hong Kong woman came up and tested me with Cantonese.  She soon explained that her friend – who may or may not be Polish but in any case speaks American English with a bit of American temperaments – was wondering whether I needed help.  It’s moments like this that makes one smile in a trip, right?

On the way to the castle the light turned “dead,” as I tend to describe unfavorable light that makes everything flat and lifeless in photos.  The very heavy backpack must have contributed to a bit of my grumpiness – I made sure I carried my notebook with me so I can catch wi-fi to chat or write something at a certain point time of the day.  Some kid was yelling at me “NI HAO~~!! NI HAO~~!!” as I walked by.  Not interested.

There are buckets of people in the castle, mainly kids.  The castle is “free,” but access to various parts of the castle and their exhibitions are not.  Certain parts are free on Mondays, so I thought about maybe visiting tomorrow, even though it’s more likely that I’ll go to either Wieliczka Salt Mine or Auschwitz tomorrow; besides, (a) places offering free entrances always have much shorter (ridiculously short) opening hours, and in Wawel’s case it will be open during 9am to 1pm, I think; (b) do I need to see another castle? Ksiaz was quite a let down, and frankly Malbork, the biggest castle in Poland, doesn’t have that much to offer inside.  As the weather improved a bit, I took some photos, and continued my journey with my backpack.

I walked all the way to the Jewish quarter – “Kasmierz.” I thought the old town hall would worth a shot for the interior, but they were about to close in 45 minutes, and with their limited English they suggested that there’s nothing to see.  Further walk proved to myself that there is nothing that will interest me in this area, which is more or less as I expected, except for a couple of trendy or funky looking cafes.

I could go to Shindler’s Factory, a “Top Recommendation” by LP, but just around the corner where a information center stands (Kraków has five or six at least), there is a fine little pink gelataria-café that seems to have a long history, according to the year marked on its sign.  Well, I checked with a young waiter inside, who speaks fine English and is very nice, and somewhat unexpectedly they have wi-fi.  So I settled down for a coffee and, after having him very patiently explaining the contents and differences of various cakes they have, a piece of likely the best chocolate 慕斯 cake I have ever tried.  In the meantime I made my phone calls, searched for couches, dealt with some likely-attractive time-wasters, and looked for certain let-out venues.

Then the rain came, even with a couple of mild growling of thunders.  All the more excuses to stay indoors.  Schindler’s Factory can wait.  Most European places don’t know how to make iced Americano – when it comes to iced coffee, they tend to regard sugar, cream or even caramel to be essential.  I told the nice (even adorable) waiter how I want my iced coffee, and while it isn’t as big as it inevitably is in Taiwan, he obviously used some blender with some particular finesse and, amazingly, I got an iced glass of coffee with such finely whipped coffee foam – no sugar, no cream, just coffee.  I smiled and smiled to thank him, and I didn’t forget to tell him my opinion about the cake, partly to induce his smile.

It’s tempting to try the coffee 慕斯 cake, but I think a second piece of cake for a short afternoon will not be as fulfilling.  I walked to the only venue I found, and the eventual results were mixed.  Nevertheless, one has to give me credits for having tried!

Before taking the tram home, I walked on a main street and checked three hostels for vacancy and prices – all of which (happened to have very beautiful young clerks at the desk, ready to smile while explaining and) happen to have lots of vacancies.  Yes, I can easily get a bunk bed for 55 PLN, and in this particular case the dorm was totally empty at the moment, which means I could have the entire room to myself.  This search does not only shows that I have choices at hand, but, even more importantly, it somehow boosts my energy – I felt recharged with “backpacker’s spirits,” I felt again independent and can be ready for more fun adventure on the road.

Since my fold-out bed is in the living room, I had to endure all the stupid, loud football game on TV and the stupid dog, although after this morning’s incident Tomek made sure the dog doesn’t come close to me.  I tried to do my things to wait for the time to pass before the TV is turned off and I can have my tranquility.

I know many would ask: why would I choose to endure all these things? If surfing a certain couch is not a happy experience, why not just leave? I guess I have come to be capable of enduring many things over the years – enduring a hardly functioning air conditioner in a hot rented room back in my home country, enduring tiresome work where some bastards bitch about me behind my back, and so on and so forth.  Yes, sometimes I don’t know when to say stop.  But in this case, well, I know I have my options, and that’s great; on the other hand, if I stay in a hostel dorm room, there can well be noises and disturbances.  After all, if one wants to obsess about undisturbed quietness, one should go for something called four-star hotels, and that is neither something I can nor am keen to go for.

[Photo album of the first day in Kraków = here.]

[寫於2012/6/13, 2.09pm]

記帳:
Krakow電車:3.2*2 = 6.4
中餐:14
二杯咖啡+ 蛋糕:6.5*2 + 10 = 23
Spartakus: 29

總計: 72.4PLN

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