Sunday, May 27, 2007

Big Trip: Day Four (Zakopane to Kraków)

On our second day in Zakopane we were in a relative hurry since we had to check out of the hotel by 10 am. We ate a mediocre breakfast in the hotel and then checked out. The hotel was kind enough to let us leave our car in their secure parking lot for the day so we packed all of our luggage inside and set off for a day of fun. We all walked into the town of Zakopane and on to a lift that would take us up to a height where we could see the Tatra mountains on the other side of the valley. Up atop this ridge, we walked along a 3 km path/road to a little ski lift, which we rode back down. Ola was disappointed because there wasn't a clear view, but we all thought it was pretty anyway. Back at the bottom, we realized that the bus we'd planned to ride back wouldn't come for another hour or something, so we decided to hoof it back to town. As we neared the hotel, thunder threatened to bring more rain. We put four of our roller bags into garbage sacks and hoisted them onto the roof, tying them down with rope from Ola's dad. And then we were off to Kraków (in Polish, this is pronounced Crah-koof). With Rob back behind the wheel, we spend another 2-3 hours enjoying the Polish drivers. By this point we got into the sport of it. Rob even completed one passing maneuver worthy of a native Pole. We laughed a lot at the absurd things people did on the roads. After a few challenges with the Polish atlas, we made our way into the city of Kraków and went to the Old Town Apartments office near Market Square. We redeemed our keys, paid our bills, and got the addresses of our temporary apartments. By this time it was about 4pm and we needed to return the rental mini-van by 5. Rob rushed us to the apartment and we pulled up behind a double-parked van and began frantically unloading luggage onto the sidewalk. At this point, the van pulled away to reveal a police car. Apparently the van handed so much been double parked as pulled over by the cops! He told us to move the van and when we indicated we were almost done he said, "No, now, go." In deference to his orders, Rob reparked the van on the sidewalk (this is legal in Krakow, though in this case we took up more room than is polite). We finished unloading the van onto the sidewalk and got Rob and Steph pulled back out into traffic. Maddy, Mike, Benjamin and I loaded up 6 people's bags and began to walk the last 2 blocks to the apartment. On the way we encountered Steph, who had left the rental car paperwork in her bag, which we now had. After giving her the paperwork, we plodded down the sidewalk while they raced off toward the rental car office. According to Rob & Steph, they reached the office at 4:59pm--1 minute before closing--and convinced the man there to let them in rather than locking the gate. They got charged for insurance they hadn't wanted, but other than that all was well. In the meantime, the other 4 of us were hauling everyone's bags up the 4 flights of stairs to our new digs. There was some huffing and puffing, a broken bottle of beer on the stairs, and a punctured can of Red Bull, but all was well. We made it into the apartments and so did the luggage. After a refreshing shower-bath in a kidney-shaped bathtub with a shower head but no curtain, we headed off to dinner in the market square. After all our walking, we opted to take a cab back to the market. Benjamin and Rob had opted for a fancy Polish restaurant, which is a bit of an oxy-moron as it turns out. The food at the restaurant was fancy and good, but not really Polish at all. Even so, we enjoyed ourselves. There may have been coffee or something like that post-dinner, but Benjamin and I headed home to bed none too let and left the partying to heartier souls. I was still sick, after all.

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