Go East, young Hemphills!

Trip Start Jul 15, 2007
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24
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Trip End Jul 16, 2008


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Flag of Poland  ,
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

(Jim)

It feels like we've just completed an unusually long six-week vacation, and we're now beginning our trip in earnest.  We arrived yesterday in Krakow, Poland.  As we walked from the train station to our hotel (another mile-plus hike, to the kids' dismay), we passed through the central square in the Stare Misto (Old City).  Krakow's square is the largest in Europe.  Both Amy and I immediately brightened -- this is what we think of when we think of Europe -- squares (places, piazzas, etc.) full of strolling pedestrians, surrounded by quaint old buildings, with restaurants spilling out onto the cobblestones.  Street performers, horse-drawn carriages, even pigeons have their place.  (Still flying rats, if you ask me.)

Quite a contrast between modern, sparsely-populated, super-clean, rich and efficient Norway to recently-communist, up-and-coming Poland.  We loved Norway, and we also love Poland for very different reasons.  One reason is the warmth and lack of rain, the other the fact that we no longer feel like poor relations from the country visiting a metropolis we can't really afford.  Both London and Norway were brutally expensive.

Last night we had a superb meal at a basement restaurant called Aqua et Vino (Water and Wine).  Great Italian food, starting with a small pitcher of prosecco, moving on to a wonderful bottle of Valpolicella for only $25 (compared to $60 for a bottle of generic rosso in Oslo).  We all ate too much, including seconds on the terrific bruschetta and a shared tiramisu, all for less than $100.  This compares to spending $200 and over for very ordinary meals the few times we dined out in London and Norway.
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