Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Krakow, Tuesday 9th September; futzing around..

I've been trying to work out some improvements to my blog, like how to put a 'fold' into each post; and how to add photos, and that. Not very successfully as you can see!

I guess I could investigate the blogspot list of goodies and see if I understands it a bit betterer.. anyone who cares to write in with suggestions for brain-dead travelling blog-dags is most welcome.

So, what we up to? M is still suffering ennui and self-shoulda/coulda/oughta wrangles. I am not so down, but SO tired.. we got up for brekkie after I'd had a good 9 hours of sleep, and afterwards I lay down and went out like a light for another 2 hours.. weird. Even for me this is kinda long. Cuts into the day of prospective touristing too.

We both have a strong sense of relief that tomorrow we travel (by train) to Berlin. A return to Western life! M speaks fluent German, so negotiating the city, the usual shopping/banking/posting/Netting details, and making our eccentric way through the days, should be much easier. I know that lotsa lotsa people don't speak English, but I'm getting a bit distressed by the 'blank face/don't wanna know' reaction from most people here. It's too much like Beijing, 10 years ago, especially the 'don't wanna know' part. In shopkeepers, waiters and the service industry in general, I don't understand the hostility - don't they want the money to keep in business? Me no get it. Me want peoples to be NICE to me. Foolish moi.

Two days ago we leapt up at the crack of breakfast and joined a group of about 10 people for a bus and walking tour of Krakow, the Old City. Our guide, the glamorous Caterina, was very good, explaining the significance and historical value of the places we visited - I particularly enjoyed seeing the remaining one synagogue still operating, and the old cemetary next door. Of course the two World Wars have had a huge influence on the city, both visually and culturally, and the markers are plain. As we saw in Riga (yes, yes, the Riga walking tour blog entry is coming) there are bullet holes, walls built from the rubble of previous structures, and restored and over-built sites of all kinds. One part of Krakow which I particularly enjoy is the parkland which encircles the Old City - it used to be the moat with a huge stone wall. Now the walls are largely gone, and the moat has become a park. This green belt around the city is a strong reminder of dear old Adelaide, the home town of your faithful correspondent.

After our tour finished (as we walked through the street where one John Paul II was once the parish priest) our legs were gone boom. We retired for a siesta, before going out to a short concert in a nearby stone church - the church of St Giles. The performance was a collection of pieces for organ and soprano. It was a strange concert - the soprano had a beautiful coloratura and was clearly experienced in stagecraft and presentation. The organist complemented her performance by playing as if he'd never seen the music before that morning. I was speculating about whether his right hand could play faster than his left, and the numerous times when he and the soprano seemed to disagree about which piece they were actually playing. He performed a couple of solos, not very well at all. He chose speed over accuracy, and his lack of musicianship was stunning. I took a couple of sound recordings on Le Camera, but I think they aren't worth keeping. The clash!

Yesterday was fairly quiet, we rested and read for ages in the morning. In the afternoon we went out to see a concert at the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, but it wasn't on for some reason. I've written about this in a piece which I hope to upload very soon.. I had a good shopping opportunity after this, making my luggage to Berlin look kinda complicated. Oh well, that's nothing new.

Today my favourite thing has been the time I spent sitting in a cafe in the Market Square, having lattes and super-fresh raspberries, oh NOM, and watching the world go by. And what did I see? Firstly, a bloody lot of smokers. So many people busy inhaling themselves to death. Then, a lot of icecream eating, hand-holding, strolling, pigeon-feeding, busking, eating and laughing. It's a lovely day today. Every day we've been here, we've heard at some point the piercing top notes of a counter-tenor who aspires to the type of musical interpretation we experienced with that organist at St Giles - this fellow means well, but his approach to pitch is to belt out a high note and hope for the best. Agonising! He sings Schubert's 'Ave Maria' with all the delicacy of a hippo burping after dinner. Today he began 'performing' on the church steps (another church) just as I finished my second latte. That was enough to send me on my way to this Net cafe!

Shortly we'll be off for an early dinner, and then our final Krakow concert - back to the Bonerowsky Palace for a piano recital of Brahms and Chopin. And I need to do some feverish packing as we'll be up at 5:45 am, ouch ouch, to get on the 7am train. Which I most decidedly do NOT want to miss.

Better go, then. Today brought to you by 'Enjoy', those delicious raspberries, and a sigh of relief.

No comments: