Krakow

Trip Start Jul 01, 2006
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Friday, January 12, 2007

January 11

Today I left Lublin early, I got left in the outskirt of the city to try to hitch-hike to a road going in direction north in the matter to reach a crossroad that would further lead me to the road that bring to Krakow.

I wasn't too confident about that, but at least it was a sunny day and surprisingly warm for January... Chris drove me next to the Skansen where I would start hitching, but the road wasn't so friendly for it and the traffic too dense. I still tried, but after few hours of the morning I decided it was not good and started walking in direction of my first choice to leave town... heading direction south.
Sadly I lost more than an hour walking again across town to the outskirt in direction south and it made me tired as well :S

Anyway, I did manage to be there not long after noon, though a huge part of the day was now gone. So I started hitching there and luckely a little truck took me along, he would either leave me at a cross road or take me inland in the 'in between' of the 2 main roads that leads south. I took the second option which badly revealed not so great as he left me at the entrance of a little nowhere town. There was a marbelous really dark black wooden church, really it was the first time I ever saw a black church actually, and some war monument. I walked through the town until I reached one of its next village. Later on, I noticed that I was actually even out of the 'main' road that connect the 2 south main road... so I was in the country side, bloody hell!
I still tried to hitch-hike further at least to a next village, but the day was going on and dusk arriving pretty fast. Luckely there was a good local bus network so I knew I could still hop in a bus, though I was stressed about the cost.
I was thinking if someone can bring me further along the road I could reduce the cost of the transport later when I would catch a bus, it didn't happen and I finally took the bus to Kielce (I was currently stuck in Ostrowiec Swietokryzski).
To my surprise the 40 km bus trip didn't cost a lot, then in Kielce I only waited few minutes before catching an express bus to Krakow, where I arrived around 8pm under a bloody rain fall.

The stress was now to get in contact with my host who was residing out of town in Wieliczka. My phone was doing crap and I couldn't either call or send sms. My luck as been when Chris called me to see how I was doing and finally he connected me with my host for the night. I talked with Tomek who explained me how to catch the minibus from the station (Station which was pretty confusing too... renovation and you could hardly find your way easily once you were outside) and he would be waiting for me at the bus stop. I took note of the name of the bus stop, at best as I could, hop in the minibus later on when it arrived and manage to reach Wieliczka. Tomek (HC: tomekwalkiewicz)was a really cool guy, really willing to help and meet new people... he was inviting most of the people who were passing around. So I arrived there and met with his girlfriend (my gosh she was cute) and we had some food before talking a little and heading to sleep later on. The sister of his gf was currently sick also in the next room and a bit complaining (I mean the kind of complaint of someone that is sick and where everything does bother.)


Some personnal thought:

Its been now more than 6 months that I'm bumming around in Europe. Great adventure and great moments... though mixed with some depressing and sad ones too.

In a way it seems that I'm always on a broken heart mood while I'm standing along the road, especially if I take reflexion time for myself.
I was slightly like that about Marie back in 1999 while I was backpacking in France, now I still am about Gil even if everything stopped between us already 2 years ago.

I still see myself in different european cities dreaming about her, having strong nostalgic thought about my life and my years in Belgium and my great appartment on the Brouwersstraat in Leuven. Her smile then, our sex life, her presence and care. We had a simple life back then but what I would give to live it again, such a great one.
Besides missing her, what I feel the most nostalgic is to not have realised it and taken the time to live and enjoy every second of it. I'm sorry for the really sporadic arguments we had... enjoying the time being would have been great, instead of looking forward for our future together and always pushing forward for when things would be 'solved, papers and money'. If only I had proposed her in a different way.

Of course now I simply hide behind my anger and frustration but luckely I easily go through that situation... being on the road help to cope with it.
But I still find my social life condition quite harsh, while on the road I have to bring up my good side and sometimes I don't feel like it, no emotions!

Why do I actually always care so much about the impression that I leave? Why do I feel that my nationality is mostly being a handicap to every of my social relation and plans?
Why does people mind so much that I'm from 'the french part of Canada'... always making me feel like if its a disease! I hate it... and I especially hate this stupid francophonic part of my country.
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January 12

Aaaaaahh lazy day, my hosts were pretty cool and its later that food was needed so we joined useful to the pleasant time and made a tour of Wieliczka and ended up to the site of the underground salt mine, which is a 'national polish monument' and well known over the country. But the price for non-polish people was exorbitant... and do I really care about visiting a salt mine for 40 minutes for that price. Nope my priority are not there.

So we ended up at the shop, getting some goods and being back home relaxing having some discussion with Tomek about what is to visit and some plans. There will be a meeting in Krakow organised in the coming days and I will surely take part of it.

It's finally later in the evening that I left Wieliczka to be hosted in Krakow itself by Beata (HC: filon) and Lukasz (HC: gornis) who is a really cute couple living in a student house. I pretty much enjoyed their hospitality while being there although I didn't spend extremely long with them. They were intending to go out partying that same night, I took the moment to go for a walk in town but decided not to go to the party for money reason and for having time to myself. So I walked a bit in the old Krakow by night before heading back, using the computer a little and reading some books in bed. I ended up still sleeping late though.
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January 13

I woke up late, Beata and Lukasz were mostly busy with their studies so they had things to do. It took me a while before I finally moved out of the house to go wandering into town in what looked like the first 'mild' winter days (looked like a belgian winter day) with grey weather and slightly more chill.

I was simply not motivated anymore and well I might have given that impression to Lukasz as well. But still I did wander in town for a while before looking for the meeting point to go ice skating with the other HC members... tough place to find!
Hopefully, after walking the square 6 times I did manage to find them (and the square is huge!)

Few members showed up and we headed to the local ice ring to do some ice skating. That was cool with me even if it was no amazingly crazy event to happen in my life (I lived next to a frozen lake all my life)... what amazed me is to notice how crazy polish people are about ice skating and how they can pack a little ring with too much people on such a bad ice condition with bad skate and bad skater. So the traffic was so dense that you needed to be careful that nobody run into you while turning in consistent circle... and watching out for the awful hole in the ice. I didn't understand why they didn't pass the zamboni! They only did after we left! gggrrrrrr :|
After the hour of allowed skating period we had, my feet were horribly hurting from the plastic skate they leant us. But in general, it was a nice afternoon... it changed of the routine and gave some activities!

After this rushy skating we ended up in a georgian restaurant having some drinks and meal. The thing is that in Poland, classy restaurant are sooooo cheap (but supermarket are quite expensive... quite a paradox) that it's indeed nice to be in such a place. Although it is usually not the place that you expect to be while backpacking around... but well now I'm going to eat on credits! And food was wonderfully tasty!

After this, most of the people left (I didn't present myself correctly so I did not keep any username of the people except for Tomek) and we went back to my hosts in town as I would already be leaving tonight back to Wieliczka. Tomek and me would plan to go for a day trip to the Tatras mountains tomorrow.

I was a bit unease with leaving my hosts so suddenly without having spent time with them, but luckely once there we managed to take some time to talk a bit about different things, about Canada and travelling while receiving vodka shot over vodka shot from the friends of their flatmates. After a while though, it was time to leave... as those glassed were getting errrrr too much ;)
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January 14

The plan to go to the Tatra Mountain failed as Tomek was slightly ill last night and maybe even today (although more like a light cold). So then we also woke up later, as otherwise we would have planned to leave in really early morning. Anyhow everything failed, so I took the morning more lazy, then Tomek pushed me a bit to go to Krakow to do something of the day and visit the city. I finally complied and took the minibus into town.

It was a decent day, I walked most of the town... up to the castle hill, the old town and Kasimierz (The jewish district) and the jewish ghetto and Oskar Schindler Factory until dusk. Then after dark, I was in the historic Ghetto area looking for a place to eat that would be cheap and open on Sunday, It was a hard task, so I ended up in a cheap pizzeria. I ate there relaxing slowly and letting time goes before going back to Wieliczka, so that I wouldn't annoy my host.

Then just usual talk and go to sleep,

I also had some issues with people reading my blog, which made me feel unease. Some people wrote me that they didnt like too much what I wrote about themself... being maybe too direct or harsh or also misunderstood. Anyway, I tried to correct some part of it.
Sorry about that :(
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January 15

Ok, back in Krakow... hostless.
Obviously things turned again not at ease at Tomek, so instead of asking I simply left. Though I ended up being short with hosting. Not being expected in my next destination before tomorrow.

So I walked around town with my bag, and went to a cybercafe to look and send some mail. So I contacted people in Oswiecim hoping maybe something would happen, I was also talking to a member in Krakow who had no availability but was currently working in a Youth Hostel. Which was revealing useful as well since I was expecting to end up there.

So before talking a decision I sat down and let time ticking by... its been payful as I received a phone call later (while I was walking in Kasimierz, where I stopped at the jewish book shop to by 'The Pianist') from Florian (HC: Voggeneder) who would host me in Oswiecim. At first my phone was still acting crap (stupid Polish Sim) but hopefully I manage to talk with him on another call and then to walk to the bus station to catch a minibus to Oswiecim Youth Centre where he was volunteering.

I manage to reach the place and finally spend the evening at the Youth Centre with Florian (from Austria) and other germans who were all volunteering either at the camp or at the Youth Centre. Great evening, discussing about the different influence and life of this well... well known area (Auschwitz!)
I learned a lot of different point of view about the local life, about the WWII history and about the soldier who were here.
That was really culturally educating!

Later Marcin (HC: matdem - my host from tomorrow) called to make sure everything was alright.

Then the evening went around some Gluehwein before going to sleep.
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