Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Krakow Cathedral.

A side Chapel in the Cathedral.

An altar piece.

This is where they keep the dead Kings. Somewhere they will be an old woman with a toilet roll just in case one of them wakes up and wants a wee.

Your scribe drinking a cup of coffee, in a plastic cup, outside, to avoid officious bustlings.

The Wawel.

The High altar. Photography is strictly forbidden, so forgive some of the camera angles. I can see no harm in taking pictures with no flash and it felt good to break the law! (see below).

Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

The Cathedra of the Bishop of Krakow.

High Altar.

The Old Town is dominated by the Wawel, the great rocky outcrop on which the castle and cathedral were built. After a long, long climb up a slope one comes out onto a small car park with a set of stone steps behind you. Typically of Poland, there is a sign pointing down the hill again, saying 'down' for which information, surprisingly, there is no charge. Ah, I see, I have not yet had my rant, for there is one my friends. This is the thing which grates more than anything in Krakow, that everything costs and everything is a problem. You want to use the toilet after spending a weeks wages for many Poles on another plate of (admittedly excellent) roast pork? Try getting past the Babushka on the door without paying some more and even if you do manage then you will find no paper for she is also the dispenser of that. There are separate charges for what sort of movement you expect to have so be sure before you go in! Before this, however, you will have had to have your coat checked in and put in the coat checking in place. That will cost as well, and no, you can't put it on the back of your chair because if one of the waiters sees it then, zoom, it's gone before you can say 'this is a blasted rip off and I want to phone the Consulate!'. When the bill comes then if you put your money on the plate and say 'Thank you' to the waiter, which I hope all my readers would be naturally inclined to do, then that's it! No change, even if the change is a large amount. you will then be ritually humiliated by the waiter who will have forgotten he can speak English if you try and retrieve it. The list goes on and it is an indication of my fractious mental state by the last day that, when queuing for a ticket to get the train to the airport (which are free into the town but not back, although there is nothing to explain this....) and a soldier, gathering that there were three tourists and an old woman in the queue before him, pushed to the front, glaring around, probably looking for someone who had paid for a wee but gone for a poo somewhere, found himself surprised to be lifted up by the scruff of his neck and frogmarched to the back of the queue with a stern telling off from your scribe. I am still expecting the Polish Army round any time now! At the airport I had all the fight taken out of me after a two hour queue at the check in because the luggage belt was not working and I allowed myself to be ripped off to the tune of ten quid for excess baggage that weighed less than when I arrived. The country got it's final laugh when there was no Gin in the Duty Free shop.
Anyway, the Cathedral is very nice although clearly only used as a place of worship for state occasions. The ticket issued by an unsmiling nun will allow you access to all of it, but there will still appear a uniformed guard at every corner to inspect your ticket again (what for? nits?) and point to the arrow which tells you the way to go because, let's face it, you'd have missed it otherwise you dissolute westerner with your fancy cords and flannel shirt! Enjoy the pictures anyway.