The last time I wrote, I was on a tiny island in the Mediterranean. Now, I took my freshly tanned skin further north to see the beautiful country of Poland where I had an entire week to enjoy the city of Krakow and soak up another new European culture. Poland greeted me with pleasantly cooler weather (reminded me of home!), the smell of springtime, and a quiet but active city.
I experienced a little culture shock when greeting people. I had absolutely no idea how to say even hello or thank you in Polish. The little Italian that I picked up in Rome was absolutely no help. Polish is really different.
Thank you: Dziękuję
Your pronunciation is probably as good as mine. Luckily, most people knew at least a little English, and for some reason it was pretty obvious we were foreigners. In fact, our tourist status is obvious anywhere we go because we talk very loudly with our Midwestern accents. Every so often I’ll be talking to a friend in a restaurant or a park and realize that I am the loudest person talking. Oops! Americans are loud…
One of the things in Poland that I was thrilled about was the Polish food. In Italy, we do not get good meat very often, but there is plenty of beef and pork and sausage in Poland! The first night, I got a delicious beef stew with Polish bread. The stew was warm and meaty (yum!) and the bread was a little different, doughy and sticky. I think it was almost, but not quite, as good as my mom’s homemade venison stew. My friend was very daring and tried a black pudding burger. Black pudding is cow’s blood mixed with beef and rice. She could only eat half of it before it was too weird. I don’t blame her!
Our waiter must have liked us because he gave us each a small glass of homemade raspberry vodka. Since it was in such a small cup, I thought I was supposed to take it like a shot, so I immediately shot the whole thing. It tasted really good, like raspberry jam! Then I looked around and saw that everyone else was sipping their vodka politely. Apparently, it was meant to be a “digestive.” I was a little embarrassed, but not that much because….I just did a shot, I felt great.:)
Right away, my friends and I wanted to experience the night life in Krakow. The city is filled with rustic looking bars. One bar, about a block away from our hostel, had boys trying to tempt people in by yelling, “12 shots for 15 zloty!” 15 Polish zloty equals about $3.50 (1 z = $4). I didn’t go there, but this became my new catch phrase for the week. Instead of YOLO, “12 shots for 15 zloty!” I know. It’s hilarious.
My favorite night club that we went to was this underground acoustic jazz club. It reminded me a lot of the Caves in St. Paul and of my fiance who played trumpet in jazz band not that long ago. It had a very rustic feel with brick walls and dim lighting. I had a wonderful time sipping the girliest drink on the menu, the cherry lady, and listening to smooth jazz music that just about put me to sleep.
Altogether, this was a wonderful way to start getting to know Krakow.
To be continued…