Sheri had a bad night coughing; she continues to fight her cold, but it seems to be winning. I decided to go out for my run alone. I didn’t feel that good either (she gave me her cold!), but I knew I had to get some running in. I left Sheri sleeping in the room, and headed out to the Planty (the green park surrounding the Old Town of Prague, once a mote). The city was bustling with people heading off to daily jobs.
I passed by Wawel Castle and headed out along the Vistula River. Along the river, they have a nice green zone with a wide paved path, with a separate area for bikers and pedestrians. I was jogging with a good number of others, and there were numerous bikers. It was just an okay run, I was definitely not in my finest form. My energy sapped late in the run, and I was happy it was only an hour run (with additional warmup and cooldown); hopefully this weekend’s run will be better.
I got back to the hotel and Sheri had just gotten up. She was feeling a little better after sleeping in. I showered, and decided to go work on our cash problem was Sheri was getting ready. I went to check with Deutche Bank if they could give me a Visa cash advance without a Visa Pin number. They only referred me to the Bankomat (ATM), but I’ve never withdrawn cash with this card, so I don’t remember if I ever had a pin number.
I went back to the hotel room and called Visa. After a little runaround they transferred me to Visa Traveller Services. I was in Customer Service Outsource HELL. With my Indian-sounding “Juan” trying to collect every bit of my personal information (since Visa won’t give it to them directly; however, if I give it all to them, how does it help prevent my identity theft?). After having to spell each item several times, I asked to speak to his manager. His manager “Maria” was no help; she spoke better english, but it was still painstakingly slow. While I was on the phone, Sheri called American express and got a similar traveller service. However, AMEX conferenced in the validation person, so no long, tortuous transfer of information. I finally cancelled the money request with Visa and said FORGET IT! American Express Traveller Assistance said we could go immediately to Western Union and pick up our money.
Sheri got directions to the Tourist Office where we could get our money. On our way we grabbed some pastries at a baked goods store that we had passed several times and the aroma had always tried to draw us in. This morning, we no longer resisted. We got three marmalade filled pastries and had them at a coffee shop where I had a smoothie (to hopefully help fight the cold).
We found the Tourist Office that American Express had said go to and pick up our Western Union money, but they forwarded us to another office. That office then forwarded us to another tourist office which DID have a Western Union sticker. After Sheri waited to get to the front of the line, they said that the man who handled Western Union transfers wasn’t there, and that she should go the BPH Bank. So… we went to BPH Bank which had a Western Union Office. After trampsing through the Old Town, we finally got to a bank that handled Western Union. We got our cash advance and headed for lunch. We had wasted most of the morning getting money (at least we could now pay our hotel bill).
We then headed back through the main square and southeast to Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter (about a twenty minute walk out of Old Town). We headed straight to lunch since we hadn’t eaten anything substantial yet that day. We found Restauracja Arka Noego (Noah’s Arc, Ul. Szeroka 2). We decided some good Jewish food to help our colds. We ordered tea (and I also had Orange Juice) and some WONDERFUL Matza Soup (Maca’s Soup) to start. After a bowl of that our sinuses had cleared up, and we were feeling a lot better. We should have just had two bowls each, and our cold might have been gone for good. Sheri also had a vegetable pierogi, which was not exactly what we expected; instead of vegetable pasta balls, this was a thin fried pasta with cheese inside. It was good (especially in the sauce provided), but not exactly what Sheri wanted. I had Smoked Chicken with some fried potatoes, both were wonderful. Sheri finished her meal with some Hot Honey Wine–mulled wine that had been heated up.
We finished and took a tour through the Jewish Quarter. We visited the Jewish Synagogue and cemetary with its gravestones close together. We visited the main market, and there were people selling vegetables and handicrafts. There were multiple Eastern Europeans selling antiques of all sorts (too bad we have to get all of this back home).
We then decided to back to the Old Town. I suggested we walk along the Vistula River since Sheri had missed her morning run. We strolled along the river while people bathed in the sun (Poles enjoying the last of their warm weather), biked and walked along with us. Everyone was enjoying the wonderful afternoon in Krakow.
We made it back to Wawel Castle and decided to take a tour. We viewed the outside of the cathedral which is a mishmash of different architectures built during different eras. We toured the grounds, and I relaxed at one of the 7 chakra points in the world (Hindu belief of 7 chakra points in the body, this was one of Earth’s main energy centers). I relaxed with several others and thought peaceful thoughts.
We then headed inside for a tour of the cathedral itself. It was a baroque, but beautiful interior. There were multiple coffins of saints and heroes, each with some carving on the top and usually some animal carved at their feet (dog, snake, etc.). We climbed the wooden stairs up into the bell tower and had a lovely view over the city.
We exited the cathedral, crossed the grounds and then started down a circular stone stairway to the “Dragon’s Den”. As we decended the air cooled, until we could actually see our breath in the air. We traveled through the caverns under the castle and came out where a iron work of dragon which actually belches out flames (every 15 minutes or so) on the banks of the Vistula River. We headed back into the Old Town and visited some shops. After a quick check on the internet (for blogging and to make sure our Budapest reservations were final) we headed back to the hotel.
We relaxed for a bit, but when it was time to go out for dinner, Sheri wasn’t feeling great. I went out to grab some food and look around town. I had a Kebab at one of the numerous stands that we had passed during the day, and it was great. I found a market, to buy some snacks for the train (but couldnt’ find any cold medicine for Sheri). I walked around the main square people-watching. It was 11PM and the square was full of people still ordering dinner and drinks. The activity seemed even more than it had in the afternoon The full moon lit up the indigo sky, and the flower market open and selling flowers.
I got back to the hotel and Sheri was sound asleep. Another end to a wonderful day in Krakow.