Grant McWilliams

Krakow Poland

We spend the day on the train with two young guys from Poland. One spoke ok English and the other spoke excellent English. We talked about the language and America. The one had taken a Greyhound from San Diego to Chicago and vowed never to do it again. He also said the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC is excellent.. He saw it before going to see Auschwitz in his own country which seemed backwards. We get to Katowice 20 minutes late and our connecting train is supposed to leave in 5 minutes. We jump off the train and run under the overpass to the first train that says Krakow and get on it. It’s a very rough rattly regional train that gets us to Krakow 25 minutes late. We manage to get a fair taxi for 15 zloty ($3) to our apartment and Bernadette a pretty red headed Polish girl is waiting for us. Our apartment is really kind of fun. It’s one of those things that’s so peculiar that you’re just willing to live with it like French cars with gear shifts in the dash or Swedish cars with ignition switches on the floor. We enter the courtyard with is very pretty and head for a building at the back. Inside is a wooded crate of an elevator that can only handle 35 kg so we put 2 bags in it and carry the rest up the stairs. The stairs are bare wood and very rustic like they were in a barn. We climb, and we climb and we climb some more until we get to the attic. The two bags are waiting for us. Our bodies were so tired by this time I could see it possible to accidentally fall over the rail and plunge to a violent end at the bottom of the stairs. Thankfully this doesn’t happen. Inside the apartment you are very aware that you are in the attic. The floors are a dark stained hardwood like Cherry or Walnut and there are dark exposed beams in the ceiling and walls. There are also exposed wooden poles supporting the ceiling. We have one bedroom instead of two like we thought. These Europeans count funny. In America a two room apartment would probably have two bedrooms, in Europe it has two actual rooms not including the bathroom. So you take the number of advertised rooms, subtract the number of bathrooms and kitchens and what you have left is the bedrooms. If this number is 0 you sleep in the kitchen and if it’s less than 0 you sleep in the bathtub.

There is a bit of a kitchen with a hotplate, sink and fridge but it’s really not enough to cook a real meal since we don’t have an oven and only one burner. In the ceiling are skylight type of windows that let in quite a lot of light and give the place a glow and our only virtical windows are near the floor and are only one foot tall. Half of the ceiling is slanted and the other half is flat so I have to duck down for about 6ft of the floorspace nearest the wall. Overall it’s a very cute apartment and makes you feel a little like Rapunzel or Quasimodo. As soon as Bernadette leaves we check out the in-room computer which of course has Windows. It also has a USB DSL modem which means I probably won’t be using my laptop to upload pictures with. Our first meal out was at the bottom of a spiral staircase in the basement of a building. We decided to play it safe the first day in town as we’ve become accustomed to doing and at Italian food. It was ok. We need to be back in the outside gates by 10 PM or we need to buzz the guard and he comes and opens the gates for us so we headed back and just got inside the courtyard before the guard locked the door.