Saturday night, we hopped aboard a train to Krakow; as I’m writing this, we’ve arrived back in Vienna on Wednesday morning, and I’m taking advantage of the fact that Wednesday is a national holiday1 to get caught up on writing up all the things that we did over the past few days.
It was a night train, so we arrived in Krakow on Sunday morning, feeling… not-well rested. There’s only so much sleep you can achieve in a bed that’s slightly shorter than your body and vibrating to the slightly-irregular rhythm of a moving train. We caught a group of cabs2 to our hotel, dropped off our bags, and then met up with our tour guide to start exploring the city.
One of the first things we saw was the main square in the center of town. One of the main attractions is this church3 – the bigger tower is rather famous for having helped defend against a Mongolian4 invasion. The guardsman used his trumpet, playing in all four cardinal directions, to alert the townspeople to the coming forces, before being killed by one of their arrows. In remembrance of that, every hour on the hour a trumpet player goes through the first part of his song from each of the windows, stopping when they get to the note when, per the legend, he was killed.
Walking through town, it was rather chilly, but still a beautiful fall day.
Our end goal for the walk was to get up to the castle that sits over the city. The first part of the castle complex we saw was the church – a beautiful hodgepodge of architectural styles, assembled over the past thousand years.
The view from the courtyard, just past the church, is just as beautiful.
And within that courtyard is the ruins of a couple older churches, which I assume were abandoned in favor of the fancy new one. They make for some very pretty ruins, though.
From up there, the view over the river is also wonderful. From where this picture was taken, looking down will get you a bit of a view of the fire-breathing dragon statue. We didn’t get to get any closer to the statue, which is okay, because it apparently wasn’t breathing fire that day.5
I have no idea what this tower was, but it was pretty.
The actual palace bit of the castle was very reminiscent in architectural style of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
The rest of the day, we spent exploring the castle… which had a “no photographs” rule. So we’re going to end on the one photo I took before they yelled at me to put away my camera. Exciting!