So after Anne's sterling debut blog entry (on foreign lands that is), I have resumed the duties on the agreement that we will alternate from this point on. It has been quite a productive few days since we last checked in, filled with adventures in two cities where we've been able to drink beer for less than 1 pound a pint!
On Saturday morning, we awoke feeling extremely refreshed after our nights sleep in a private room and decided to take in the sights of Prague. Obviously, wandering into the tourist areas on a Saturday afternoon is never going to be a quiet affair, but we managed to stand our own against the hustle and bustle. As we didn't have any set agenda, we just pointed to places of interest on the map and generally set sail in what we thought was the right direction. We managed to walk over the Charles Bridge and survive the incline up to Prague Castle, which coupled with the stunning views was well worth the exertion. After strolling around the city for a while longer, we retired early for the night and found that we had the hostel to ourselves for the majority of the evening. The hostel only occupied 2 of the 6 floor apartment building in which it was situated and therefore was relatively small compared to the two where stayed previously. As the interiors were impeccable, it gave it more of a guesthouse feel and as Anne said in the previous post, we knew that we wanted to enjoy an additional night there just for that. We cooked what felt like a homemade meal on the saturday night, using shop bought tortellini parcels and Czech equivilent cup-a-soups for the sauce. We had then spent what felt like an eternity abusing the free internet in order to book the final few chapters of our Europe adventure. I won't tell you what's in store for the next 3 days from now, as it should hopefully make for fantastic reading in Anne's next blog...
Sunday was more of the same, as we had planned to leave on Monday to Kraków on the overnight train, departing at 21.17, therefore as we had a full day to kill time on Monday, we began to piece together our itinerary for the day. We woke up and generally took everything in our stride. We had breakfast with a brilliant couple called Mike and Kaili from Portland, Oregon in the United States. Now, if you've had a conversation with me around music over the last 6-12 months, you might have noticed that I've developed an obession with Portland based bands and so it was great to discuss them with actual locals! It was a real shame that we didn't have more time with Mike and Kaili, but hopefully we'll meet for beers with them by the time we make it to the US. After breakfast, we ventured to the train station to lock our luggage up and then, as is becoming customary on our travels, we went to seek out the local football stadia; The Generali Arena, home of Sparta Prague 1893. In order to walk to the stadium from the city, you have to go through a park where there are daubings from the local football hooligans. Scrawlings of 'Sparta Hoolifans', 'Red Firm Z', Youth Firm 1893' and 'City Boys' can be seen on the stairs leading to the park. God knows what goes on there.
Afterwards, we ventured into another medieval town (again, up another hill; it seems like everything in Prague is up a hill), before embarking on a guided tour of the Prague undergrounds. It was quite interesting but the leaflet promised us a free beer which wasn't delivered, so we couldn't help feeling like we'd been stitched up somewhat. Before our first overnight train journey, we filled our stomachs full of local beef goulash and headed off to the station feeling rather content. However, the contentment was to turn to delight as we were told that our 4 bed compartment was actually to be a private one (and trust me, if you had seen the size of them you would understand our delight).
Prague was a very pretty city with stunning architecture. Upon reflection, it can be a very cheap city if you find the right places to eat and drink. However, this can make you reckless with your spending, especially as they're not in the euro so you can temporarily forget the conversion and think that you're getting a bargain with every purchase. Luckily, we were mindful of this from the very start, so we approached everything with a sense of frugality without depriving ourselves of anything. For example, we managed to buy 8 beers for just over 3 euros from one shop - can't argue with them prices!
Unfortunately, our overnight train didn't give us the rest that we had hoped for and we arrived in Kraków at 7am feeling absolutely exhausted. After locating our hostel and dropping off our bags, we were left with no other option than to wander around the town until our room was ready at 2pm. This would have been a lot more appealing if we had at least been able to shower beforehand, but the hostel did give us a free breakfast so we can't complain! After a quick coffee in the main square, I managed to talk Anne into perusing the homes of Wisla Kraków and Cracovia, the towns two main football sides. Their grounds are in close proximity with only a green area and road separating the two. Kind of like the Liverpool teams with Stanley Park. After a lovely local dinner of wholemeal bread soup / sour soup and breaded pork / chicken breast with a mass of buckwheat (along with 2 beers each it came to only 10 pounds for everything!), we returned to the hostel to find that our rooms had been overbooked and so we were moved into a private room. Score.
We had a nap and then ventured out for more one pound beers and to watch the City game (Anne was beginning to OD on football at this point). After the game, we located another local bar and entered to find the locals watching a Polish documentary on a bear who was used by the Polish army in the second world war. Seriously. I was as bemused as anybody reading this might be, but the bear was apparently used to distribute ammunition.
So that brings us up to today. This morning saw us visit Auschwitz, I'm not going to write much on this for two reasons. A) It is seriously as powerful as can be expected and even after visiting we still cannot begin to comprehend the extent of what happened B) Some Spanish chappy is looking to use the computer in our hostel and I have been hogging it a little bit. So, visiting the camp on a bleak wintry morning really gave some eerie atmospheric reflection.
This afternoon, we went for Polish goulash in bread bowls and had some local cabbage and mushroom dumplings to accompany it. Really fantastic cuisine. Accident number two occured during the meal though (after my sprained ankle in Brugge); Anne managed to pierce her thumb with her fork and one fork-spike-thing literally ran the full length inside her thumb. Slight panic for a moment, but we managed to return to our food within a few minutes suffering minimal blood loss. Brave Anne.
So, it's off to bed for us in a short while. For our evening dinner we'll be enjoying Rye Bread bought from Munich, with Cheese Spread bought from Brugge, along with noodles bought from Krakow with some Chilli sauce bought from Prague... maybe we should be concerned about our food miles?!