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24 September 2005

quickly to the surface

the highlight of this day was not the tour of the salt mines in wieliczka. don't misunderstand, the mines were impressive. i spent three hours underground with two tour guides wandering through the extended labyrinth of tunnels on the upper three of nine levels. down a forever wood staircase covered with marks from past visitors; the whole mine was marked. large hollows left when the salt was removed. several turned into beautiful chapels, the most impressive kinga's, the staircase, the floor tiles, the sculptures on the walls all carved from one large block of rock salt. i inhaled deeply near a salt lake. a museum explaining the techniques used by the miners. nine of us crammed into the top level of the lift and the door shut, raised quickly to the surface through the darkness, shaking.

no, the highlight of this day was not the day at all. it was the night. i hadn't intended to go out at all, just a dinner and then back inside for some writing, but as i became unalone and the group grew to six in an unusual string of coincidences, i was caught up within the night and decided not to resist.

after i returned to krakow from wieliczka, i met a new roommate, the egyptian greek australian dimi, back at the hostel. i asked him if he wanted to join me for dinner. in the town square, ellion surprised me as i stood in line waiting for an atm. swiss ellion had been forced to relocate from our hostel along with many others the night before due to a lack of beds. i asked her to join us to the infamous polanski's; no chicken cutlet for me this time. delicious pierogis and potato soup. on the way there she told us she had been looking for a friend who used to live in krakow, now working in nigeria, currently back in poland. she'd been unsuccessful in locating him.

after dinner we returned to the town square and ran into australian anders, another relocated hostelite. moments later, ellion's missing friend, half german half polish kaspar, saw us standing near his table, came over and invited the four of us to sit down with him and his polish friend, andreon. kaspar had lived in krakow before relocating to nigeria temporarily for his job; andreon still lived in krakow. we had found one of the traveller's best friends: locals. and not just any locals, these locals were on a mission tonight. kaspar explained the plan to check out a birthday party for a friend of andreon's at a local bar before moving on to others in the extensive krakovian underworld. i'd seen the salt mines of wieliczka's underground; it was time to see the bars and clubs of krakow's.

first to a basement bar of brick with curved ceilings similar to those i'd seen in prague and cesky krumlov, completely packed. a narrow passageway led to a chamber where a three piece band was rocking hard in english and polish [the long haired singer seemed out of place in this land of the shaved head]; the crowd was devouring their music and cheering and i was cheering along with them. kaspar's drink of choice was a mad dog (fiescu pies?)... some devious creation topped off with a few drops of tobasco sauce... and the rest of us allowed him to lead us down the stinging path. i feared for my night and for the next morning. we didn't stay long... we were on a mission. the next two bars were protected by large doormen. fortunately, we had the keys. i'm not exactly sure what he said to them, but kaspar unlocked the lock and the doormen ushered us in. no cover, no questions. the second club was covered with pictures, the third filled with frenetic dancing. the night was incredible... kaspar took us to bars we likely would not have found without him and got us in to places from which we likely would have been turned away. [thank you sir for an incredible night; i'll definitely stay in touch]. wish i'd had my camera with me.

it cost me 50 zloty to upgrade anders' age.

that girl has the world in her eyes.

posted by paul on Sat 24 Sep 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

comments

Hey Paul, thanks for the mention on GlobalRecon! and thanks again for a great night, but where's my Alexander Graham Bellinski joke?

The bike tour of Krakow was awesome. Guide was an american guy who was extremely knowledgable. Went to a trivia night at Nathan's Hostel that night with some of the bike group. We came second and won 12 beers!

Cheers Paul!

posted by Dimi on Sat 01 Oct 2005 at 14:03:17 est (-05:00)

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