Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Kraken?: An Obvious Pun

Stories from our class trip to Krakow, Poland await!

It started with a train again.  

This time, I felt even more like Hermione because I was with my fellow Potter-lovers. Naturally, we pretended to be the characters on the train. (Who wouldn’t?)

[I'm guessing Grace is HP because she has brown hair, and Naomi is Hermione, because she's so damn excited for school.]

 [Obviously I'm Malfoy, check the scowl. Joe is HP, ala my glasses.]

Poor Sarah (our Academic Director) had the worst of luck on this day. When we got on the first train, off to start our week-and-two-days long trip, she realized she had left her giant bag of belongings on the platform. She may have laughed it off, but she had to buy a week’s worth of new clothes and other items. Suck.

Then we got on the next train, realizing within 15 minutes that we were on the WRONG ONE. We had to get off on the next stop and wait to turn around. 

[Lee, on bag]

 [Everyone is crabby as I make sure we're in the right place.]

After taking these pictures I realized I really had to pee. Sarah wouldn’t let me go because she was too worried about making the train back to the right train. When we got on the train back to the right train she informed me there still wasn’t time. I stubbornly ran to the bathroom (and back because someone was there and I felt it stopping, and back because it wasn’t our stop) and fucking MADE IT. Peeing quickly master, right here.

By the time we got on the right train, it had been a long day. Dani whipped out her blow-up neck pillow for a nap. She’s one of those very responsible people who always has a neck-pillow on hand when the time is right.\

Next we went to an authentic Slovakian restaurant. I was not in the mood, so I got a salad.

We had an authentic Slovakian time playing with waterbottle caps on our eyes. 

(Oh, and we did have meat-filled dumplings, but they weren’t good, so there is no need for you to worry about a lack of photo.)

At the hotel, our bathroom was like a beach/resort/ocean/getaway. 

So calming.

The next day we woke up early to a lecture on the history of Poland in relation to communism. Surprisingly not as boring as it sounds. We had a good speaker and good tea. AAAAAAno.

We saw a bit of the city; pretty in a gray sort of way. 

At a local coffee shop Grace and I discovered Remember Cats, the game that is sweeping the Polish nation. What amazing things happen in Remember Cats (other than the physical act of remembering cats), you ask?? Well, it’s Memory… with CATS. Delicious.

[SO MANY cats to remember!!]

 [We may have cheated.]

After that we went on a tour in Communist buses. What are those you ask? Naturally, they look like this,

but I think they are just buses that were produced during the Communist era. It was never really explained to us. On the bus, ever-cheerful Grace exclaimed, “Who knew Communism could be such fun!” Remember that one, people.

 [Grace: not pictured.]

We mostly toured Nowa Huta, the only city that was built from the ground up as a Communist city. It’s shaped like a star and had parks and monuments to Stalin and factories. 

 [When the graveyard is the only cool hangout for teens, you know Communist planning is not the ideal.]

We also went to a park that was opened sometime after its completion. For some reason that park was heavily advertised even outside of Nova Huta and claimed to have a lake. On the day of the grand opening hundreds of families showed up with children, beach towels, and swimsuits to find an empty field. Yep, another barren promise from Communist leaders. 

The park was not devoid of fun, however. We must give it some credit.

 [Indeed, this is real fun.]

You may not expect this because of Communism’s anti-religious sentiments, but there is a massive church in Nova Huta. Why? Not because the leaders wanted it at all but because the people struggled for it. They painstakingly worked for permission to build a tiny wooden chapel and slowly worked their way up to this giant church, taking years to finish it. At one point the Communists changed their minds and tried to destroy it but the people fought back. Some even died. 

Catholicism is super strong in Poland, very different from the Czech Republic, which is statistically the most atheistic country in Europe. Actually, people going to church and following the pope was the way the resistance to Communism first started in this country. It was the first to fall of all the Soviet Union’s satellites. The first night we walked past some sort of processional where people were carrying a statue of Mary. There were candles, and tall, dancing shadows, nuns (one running because she was late), priests, and tons of people. I didn’t get a picture but it was like a scene from a movie or something.

That night we tried to get Kebabs (abundant and high-quality in Krakow) but ended up with Indian, somehow. The next day we went to Auschwitz, a whole other story.

On Sunday, we had a free day. It started out with a trip to a gallery that was showing the top journalist photos from the world in 2011. I learned about many current events that I should have known before.

That night, I had a fantastic meal at a place called Family Fun. We walked for way too long to find it while I was hangry (hungry + angry) and settled on this place which had an ugly flashing purple sign. And was called FAMILY FUN. I was positive it was going to be lame.

Yet this pork, apple, onion, mashed potato, horseradish, sprouts thing I had was fantastic!

Here’s a picture of the main square, unfortunately it was taken at night.

 [And no one was freaking looking! I need to start doing countdowns before I take a picture or something.]

And here is the tower of beer we got at a local bar. 

Don’t worry, we shared it. 

Next stop, Slovakia!


  1. How nice it must be to be on a trip with so many Harry Potter nerds! They're the best kind!

    "Having an authentic time with bottle caps on our eyes." You're a funny lady.

    I also think it's funny that you weren't in the mood for authentic slovakian food. :)

    I love Remember Cats! I used to be SO GOOD at that game when I was a kid.

    That second meal looks fantastic. Ooh boy. And I love Kebabs.

    WOW that's a big beer tower.

  2. I think we need to play Remember Cats at the party we're having when you return. :)