day 18: krakow, poland

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 18: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you've been to or a favorite vacation.

Before I start about one of my favorite vacations of all time, let me say that I really, really wanted to do a vlog yesterday as a part of the blog-a-day challenge! This week has knocked me off my feet though, time and time again. I have gone to bed well before 9:00pm every night this week, because I just can't handle the days anymore. I want to make it up, and will probably combine another post with a video this month. But, let me stop babbling on and just get to today's post. :)

I think my favorite vacation has definitely been to Poland. It was so incredible, and I cannot wait to take Austen and our babies there someday. I figured out this weekend how to get my Polish Disney  movies to play on our Apple TV, which will be great for little pea to learn some Polish from. 

Back in April, I spent a week in Krakow and neighboring smaller villages with my mom and aunt. We have family that still lives there, and it was so neat to meet them and spend that time putting faces and pictures to the places we had only heard about up until then. I think my favorite though, was the city square in Krakow. 

St. Mary's Basilica is the main Catholic church right on the square. Every hour, a trumpeter plays from a window facing north, south, east, and west, but his song is cut short each time. When Krakow was initially invaded many years ago, the trumpeter had started to warn the city, but an arrow stopped the warning call short. In memory of that, the trumpeter never plays a full song, even to this day. 

A view of St. Mary's Basilica and Cloth Hall at sunset. This evening was my absolute favorite, because it was cold and had been rainy all day. We were heading back to the Easter market that was set up on the other side of Cloth Hall to do some shopping (aka: Polish pottery, pysanky wooden Easter eggs, and cinnamon chimney curled bread!).

Poland is a predominately Catholic country, and loves traditions and holidays. We went the week leading up to Easter, and it was dreamy. This was the main market, but we found a couple of others while wandering around the city one afternoon. I can still smell the baked goods, salted cheeses, and breads. Mmm... If you ever visit Europe in general, I would recommend before a holiday! There are so many more traditions and customs you become a part of. I want to go back before Christmas next time with our little family.

This was the original gate and part of the wall that guarded the city of Krakow. If I'm correct, it dates back to before the 1400s (don't hold me to that... I was getting a little stir crazy at the underground museum when they gave us the official date).

Every great European city has to have a castle! My favorite thing about the Krakow castle is its legend. They say that a former king of Krakow (back before it was even called Krakow) had a problem with a dragon that lived under a hill near the Wislaw river. It continued to eat their sheep and virgins. The king sent in many knights, but the dragon killed them all. The king became desperate and said anyone who could kill the dragon could marry his daughter. Finally, a local man, Krakow, had an idea. He killed a sheep, filled it with tar, and left it outside of the dragon's lair. It ate the dragon and became immensely thirty. It went to the river and began to drink, but could not quench its thirst. It eventually burst from drinking too much. The young man married the princess, and built a castle on top of the dragon's old lair when he became king.

You can even go into the dragon's lair underneath the hill the castle is built on. Oh, and hanging in front of the castle church are these huge bones. We asked a man standing nearby who worked there, and he looked at us with a straight face and said, "Those are the dragon's bones."

One of my favorite things about Poland? Paczki. Lots of paczki. And Polish pottery. And tea served in Polish pottery. And more of the food, mostly the breads and pierogi.

Oh, and there was that one time we found a stork in the same town my great-grand father came from. Two months later, we found out we were pregnant. ;)

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