Rain in Krakow
Helle does not feel well and has slept badly. Unlike her usual self she only nibbles at breakfast, which today is reduced to yoghurt and half a banana.
We go out at 9:30 to get some air and to give the staff a chance to fix the room, so Helle can rest undisturbed. It is raining lightly. We have not been exactly lucky with the weather, but there is nothing you can do about it, and at this time of the year it is bound to be less predictable. At least it is mild.
In the bookstore on Rynek Glowny I find a Michener novel about Poland. I have finished the second Danish novel I brought along. You consume more pages when it rains, and tomorrow there will be waiting in airports.
The stalls in the market hall are opening, and there is no crowd. We consider visiting the amber museum in ul. Florianska, but rain is now in power, and Helle's energy is at zero. So adventures are reduced to refreshments at Zakatek before we return home. This weather certainly does not inspire to any outdoor activity.
At 12:45 the umbrella and I go for a walk. Umbrellas dance their complicated dance in three dimesions to avoid contact. In front of the ATMs in the market square people line up and try to be smaller targets. At the indoor ATM below the sign with the blue bull there is no line. I grab the notes immediately - the machine threatens to eat them after 30 seconds.
After a light lunch at Zakatek's the umbrella must work again. It is raining stubbornly and with stamina from an evenly grey sky. There are many puddles on the pavements, and you must watch your step.
I find the art museum, but it is closed on Mondays, so no cultural vitamins today. Right now I feel like fleeing into a bar and let the sun shine some other way, but it is a bit early and Helle needs fruit and comfort more than I a beer. So I visit the small supermarket near the hotel.
Fruit and vegetables are in a small glass cage, and you give your order to one of the two encaged women. She weighs, bags and labels. Surprisingly sweets are next to the health cage and far from the check-out counter and the usual stretch of impulse shelves. Two bars of chocolate and some Polish sweets supplement the bananas and the apple as a get-well-diet.
As I unfold the umbrella some plastic thing breaks off. It is the first working day for this umbrella, and it should have been sold as disposable. Of course I could buy something of a decent quality instead of this cheap trash, but then I'll most certainly forget it somewhere. I put it in the shower and tell it to be ashamed.
At half past three restlessness sets in again, and I declare it is time to inspect the Irish pub. I make a stop by the reception - I may as well pay the bill now. As the receptionist fixes the papers, telephones start ringing. She ignores them completely and finishes her business with me. When that has been dealt with, she asks politely if she can answer the phones now? Admirable! Phones are usually more important than people.
The Irish pub is closed for inspection, but then there is the bar with the white eagles at the market square. I get a small table by a window, one step up. Two girls at the table below lower their voices. There was no need for that, because I do not understand a word of their Polish gibberish. At the next table a man of my age is reading a book.
The girls leave and are replaced by a company of American Jews. They throw clothes and bags in a heap on the floor right where I need to step, once I decide to leave. I am probably mistaken for a piece of furniture. They are on a pilgrimage and talk about genocide and camps. I contemplate asking them to collect their stuff, but instead I jump the heap with Tarzanic agility. I don't think they even noticed.
Later Helle feels better and we cross the street towards a pizzeria. A drenched man is begging desperately in the street and says he cannot afford to eat in this neighbourhood. He could have had my pizza anytime, because the 'spicy' sausage is so chilli-hot that my mouth is senseless after a few bites.
I defend against this taste bud attack by removing the sausage, but then a second front opens: a kid terrorises the restaurant with wailing, flying toys and spilt Coca Cola. The father gives instant psychological counselling, so the frustration can be converted into decibels rather than lifelong traumas. Fortunately the family leaves before we have finished eating, and there is a sigh of relief from the whole restaurant.
Tuesday March 20th 2007
We have asked for a taxi at 9:45. Our flight is at one, but we must check out anyway, and the last time I was here the airport was utter chaos and it took forever to even reach the counters.
We get down in good time, but the driver is already waiting. This driver switches the meter on. I am a bit puzzled when we cross the river going south and ask if this is the way to the airport. To such a stupid question "Yes" is the only answer, and soon we turn right and pass the river once again - this time going north. I guess it was just a reasonable way to avoid traffic jams in the city centre. After 20 minutes we are at the airport, and the meter says 64 PLN. Cheap for 15 kilometres.
The airport has been rebuilt since I was here two years ago, and check-in goes much more smoothly. The Polish LOT uses the counters 1-9, and 10-19 are allotted to international airlines. We pass through security reasonably quickly, which according to the airport can take up to 45 minutes.
The flight is delayed 30 minutes. The woman on the other side of the aisle is nervous when we take off. She moves her lips silently and fiddles with a rosary. I close my eyes, convinced that she has good connections.