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A Short Trip in Poland
by Paul Shelton

The plan for today is to head out the Wawel. This is a small hill on which stands the Krakow Cathedral and the Royal Castle. Krakow was until recently the royal capital of Poland and thus, these are both very impressive monuments. Before we manage to get in, however, we have to navigate Polish ticket sellers.

In normal places at peak season, you would imagine the ticket seller would make you aware that the tour you are asking for is only in a language that, excluding any beer references, makes as much sense as rocks do! In Poland, this is done with uncharacteristic efficiency, even when there is no alternative.

"Polish language..Polish tour!" the ticket seller exclaims.

"Oh, are there any in English?" I ask.

"No!" she replies, trowing back her head and laughing in demeaning cackles at yet another tourist who has fallen for it.

The Royal Castle--actually, it's more of a palace--is a very impressive square building with a large courtyard surrounded by what can only be described as drainage dragons.

Our first call is the jewellery and armoury museum which houses an equal number of pretty trinkets and evil looking sharp bits of metal designed purely for pain and dismemberment.

Next, we head for the royal chambers. These are an exquisite collection of recreated royal living quarters and art galleries. Each room has a certain purpose, including the Royal Bedroom (with single bed), which finally explained why old beds are so short. It is believed that people would sleep half sitting, half lying on a mound of pillows. Nobody is quite sure why, since this is by all accounts bloody uncomfortable. One popular suggestion is that when you died you were laid to rest horizontally and so...through some weird reverse logic they thought that laying down brings you closer to death.

The last call of the Wawel was the Cathedral. Exactly what to say about this is hard, save for it's an excellent monument testifying to the Polish love of Catholicism--large buildings and even larger bells. A beautiful place, but only slightly more pleasant and inviting than the guns and swords.

We decided that our touristic obligations are fulfilled with this trip, and so go in search for food, drink and merriment with a Polish twist.

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